Analysis of The Professor by Nissim Ezekiel

The Professor is noted for its expression of the Indian attitude. Indians are proud of their proficiency in English but they are never bothered about the fact that their Indian English is far from the Native English.

 

 

STYLE AND FORM: The Professor is both a conversational poem as well as a satirical poem. The Professor is in a conversational form, it is about a conversation between two people, a professor and his former student. The professor is the narrator in this poem and he talks about himself, his family and children. The poem is in free verse style without having any regular metrical form. This form helps the poet to freely describe the thoughts and feelings of a retired professor. He speaks about his sons and daughters, his health, changing times and changing values, talks that are typical of a middle aged man. Thus, we can say the poet Nissim Ezekiel has used a informal style to convey the thoughts of the old man.

A satire is a way of criticizing a person, an idea or anything else. In a satire, the human follies are attacked by using humour, irony and exaggeration. The Professor is a satirical poem where the professor is the object of satire and is ridiculed by the poet. Through the character of the professor, Ezekiel has satirized the educated class, living in the cities. Like an old father-figure, the professor speaks about his eleven grandchildren and then boasts about the material wealth of his sons. Moreover, the poem is a blow to the Indians who use English language, making mistakes of syntax, grammar, tense etc but still they would speak in English(they find it prestigious) rather than in their mother tongue.

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Use of Hyperbole: Hyperbole means exaggerating something. Ezekiel has shown that Indians have the habit of exaggerating for emphasis. The use of hyperbole is quite apparent in the professor’s speech. The examples are listed below-

*Our progress is progressing.
*Everything is happening with leaps and bounds.
*This year I am sixty nine
*You were so thin, like stick.

Use of Irony: The narrator being a professor should have a well command not only over the subject he teaches but also the language he uses. But the poem is full of grammatical errors. He talks like a boastful father, as he speaks of his sons-
“By God’s grace, all my children
Are well settled in life
One is Sales Manager,
One is Bank Manager,
Both have cars.”

THEME:
Urban Thinking Pattern: The Professor revolves around the typical urban mentality of people in India. The speaker here is a professor whose academic excellence is far above from that of a common man. Instead of having a broad thinking, the professor has a narrow, stereotyped thinking. His views are confined to his family, children and their material achievements in life. He talks about his daughters who are happily married and about his two sons who are sales and bank managers respectively. Like a typical urban mentality, he thinks women should be happily married and confined to their homes only.

The poet has ridiculed the typical Indian mentality which measures a person’s success based on monetary gains. Ezekiel has intertwined satire, irony, humor with Indianism, urbanity and academic excellence to draw the picture of a bereaved professor who meets one of his former students.

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