What would be the characterization of Norman Gortsby?

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herappleness's profile pic

M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The story "Dusk" by Saki is about a man who gets duped despite of his self-proclaimed attainments in the understanding of people and their behaviors. This self-proclaimed ability to analyze people comes together with other character traits that include unnecessary boldness in expressing his thoughts, obstinacy, and sarcasm. He is also judgemental and, it is also safe to say, annoying. This latter trait comes from the fact that, although Mr. Gortsby feels presently frustrated with some aspects of his life, he does not do anything different to make up for it.

The first indication of this characterization appears right at the beginning of the story. The mere fact that Gortsby has determined and decided that dusk is "the time of the dejected" is quite silly. Yet, he religiously abides by his rationale and has made a practice out of visiting Hyde Park at this time.

He had failed in a more subtle ambition, and for the moment he was heartsore and disillusioned, and not disinclined to take a certain cynical pleasure in observing and labelling his fellow wanderers as they went their ways ...

This quote indicates that Gortsby does have a tendency to place a judging eye on others and speak his mind on the subject. Case in point, when the "young man" sits next to him on the bench claiming to be in need for money to resolve a temporary problem caused by going to get soap, Gortsby shamelessly calls him a liar when he does not obtain proof of what the young man is trying to say

It was a pity," mused Gortsby; "the going out to get one's own soap was the one convincing touch in the whole story, and yet it was just that little detail that brought him to grief.

Gortsby also tends to overanalyze to the point of maybe even confusing himself. This is exactly what occurs when, insisting on analyzing the people in the park, he completely misses the fact that there are some people who can think faster than him, and may be plotting against him. Isn't he surrounded by "the dejected", as he claimed at first? How can he be so comfortable and trusting?

Therefore, Gortsby is not only too self-confident, but also too comfortable in his own intellect; unfortunately for him, and for many who are like him, the results are always the same: they become fooled by their own pretentiousness.

humurabbi's profile pic

humurabbi | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

Norman Gortsby is the main character or the protagonist of the story. He is confident about his judgement of the people around hi and takes a cynical pleasure in observing and labelling them. In the story, he is seen noticing people moving silently in the dark stretches between the lamp lights. According to him dusk is the hour of defeated. among whom he count himself. However the reason for disillussionment is not the lack of money but a more subtile ambition.

Gortsby is quick to judge young man and see through his story. He relates his own incident similar to that of the young man but recaals having found his way back to his hotel. He points at the weak point in the young man,s story. He tells him that he should have been clever enough to produce the soap to make his story credible.

Gotsby realizes late that he has misjudged the young man as he finds the evidence of soap. He is guilt-striken and helps young man by lending him money. It is highly ironibecause the young man goes away. Gortsby finds that he has actually been duped and the cake of soap belongs to the elderly man occupying the bench earlier. Gortsby previous judgement had been correct but his overconfidence proved him wrong.

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