The Incongruous Self: Facing the Fallibility

Charlotte Gill


In contrast to humor derived from incongruity between the reader's own expectations and perceptions in Joseph Conrad's "The Secret Agent," post-World War I literature is characterized by a internal incongruity wrought by the characters' own subjectivity. As the period following World War I fostered internal skepticism through recognition of one’s fallibility and faulty perspective, the characters’ discovery of their own incongruity fuels the transition from external to internal subjectivity in Kingsley Amis' "Lucky Jim" and Graham Greene's "Heart of the Matter." However, the contradiction manifests itself differently in each – via humor in "Lucky Jim" and tragedy in "The Heart of the Matter." More specifically, Lucky Jim’s Dixon represents the clash with absurdity through comical outward expression, while Scobie in The Heart of the Matter commits suicide in the face of his own contradiction.


Modernity; Colonialism; Incongruity Theory; Humor; Post-World War I Literature

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