Penelope Fitzgerald

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What is a detailed analysis of “The Axe” by Penelope Fitzgerald?

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In “The Axe,” by Penelope Fitzgerald, we have a ghost story that also engages in a spot of social criticism, demonstrating how modern-day business practices can reduce loyal workers to ghosts of their former selves.

After being let go despite years of hard work and loyal service, Singlebury becomes a ghost of his former self. His work was his life, and so once he's shown the door, his life is effectively over. His employers were fully aware of how much Singlebury’s job meant to him, but they let him go anyway, convinced as they were that efficiency savings were necessary.

It's not surprising, then, that after a distraught Singlebury takes his own life, his ghost comes back to haunt his old office. In social critical terms, this can be seen as a commentary on how ruthless modern-day business practices will always come back to haunt companies who treat their employees, especially those who have given years of loyal service, like pieces of junk that can be thrown on the scrapheap.

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