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Life Of Mahatma Gandhi By Louis Fischer

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Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi led India’s independence movement in the 1930s and 40s, facing down the British colonialists with stirring speeches and non-violent protest. As a result of this, he’s often named among the 20th century’s most important figures and remains revered in India as a father of the nation, so with this in mind, it is no wonder that he has appeared in many books of a biographical nature. As Louis Fischer’s 7th non-fictional book, The Life of Mahatma Gandhi is a seemingly non-bias and accurate account of Gandhi’s life following his life story starting from early childhood through to his death and legacy. The author has limited himself to the record of Gandhi’s life, with a minimum analysis and interpretation. However, there is some evidence to show that Fischer’s personal ideas, attitudes, and values have influenced his use of aesthetic language, which underpins the way in which Gandhi is represented to the audience throughout the book.

Through reading the text, the audience can get a sense that the author is clearly in support of Gandhi and his life’s journey, but to be fair who isn’t in this modern age? Fischer’s book was also one of the first accurate accounts where western readers could grasp a detailed insight into the development of Gandhi, which was key to understanding the fundamentals of a man with such extraordinary capacity for growth. Fischer’s book also attempts to right some misplaced emphases and corrects some misapprehension about Gandhi. A promenade reading throughout shows Fischer’s attempt to set straight many westerners’ interpretation of Gandhi solely as the leader of India’s independence movement, despite his work having albeit enormous indirect application to the achievement of independence. With this, the author’s commentary is pushed toward hero-worship more often than respectable. At times Fischer also tries to cash in on the drama by rehashing Gandhi’s assassination—a low move, indeed, showing that his value for selling the book by creating a captivating story, is greater than his will to write a neutral and purely factual biography. Moreover, had he left the event as they happened in chronological order of Gandhi’s life, the story would have remained impartial to all readers, but could also have left a more significant impact on readers. All this being said, The Life of Mahatma Gandhi does present all facts of Gandhi’s life, including the relevant political and historical background, but the author’s personal bias can be seen through the use of aesthetic language devices such as hyperboles, imagery, and juxtaposition.

This description overtly emphasizes the dedication of Gandhi by adding an exaggerating and hooking factor, which leads the readers to feel compassion and highly empathize with Gandhi. Hyperboles in literature carry great significance as they allow the writers to present something common in an intense manner, with this example being no exception. Instead of recounting this event in a brief yet succinct way, Fischer uses additional adjectives with high modality to make the already noteworthy facts of Gandhi’s life come across as much more severe. From this, the astute reader can in fact gather that Fischer is in admiration of Gandhi’s practices. This is further … to an audience that may know the background of the author’s life. Having read some of Louis Fischer’s previous works in the period between 1942-47, The Life of Mahatma Gandhi is just another checkpoint in which his support for Indian independence is, expressed vociferously and prolifically, with Fischer’s criticisms and eventual opposition to the personality and foreign policy of Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, this treatment of Fischer situates his criticism of Nehru within his personal development as an anti-communist in the late 1940s and 1950s. Hence why his desire to put Gandhi in the lime-light is apparent.

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Additionally, Fischer’s use of imagery shows his position on aspects of Gandhi’s practices and experiences. Using the example of “…capacious stomach demanded to fill…” as found in the chapter ‘first fast’; readers are subjected to the author’s interest in Gandhi’s renowned fasting and dietary regimes, but moreover are once again exposed to Fischer’s captivation surrounding Gandhi’s dedication to he believes and values. This use of imagery creates an array of sensory triggers and feelings for readers, rather than just guiding the audience to visualize the scene. As a result, this causes an emotional effect to intensify the impact to which the story has on the audience. This reiterates how Fischer wants to pull the reader’s attention back to the commitment of Gandhi. The impact from imagery within this line is further supported as the two subjects within the phrase juxtapose one another creating an even heavier impact on readers. It is through this that Gandhi’s discernible hunger can be explicitly visualized by audiences who may not know much about his life prior to reading the biography. This is not the only example of Fischer’s use of imagery. Earlier in the book (page 73), Fischer describes “… black men whipped till their skin came off in strips…” This adjective used in this example is more simplified in comparison to the example mention before. Yet through this, their impact is not lessened. This description creates a vivid mental image for readers, once again intensifying the potential audiences’ empathy towards Gandhi as he had to endure and witness such horrors, as well as creating an undeniable emotional empathy to the (South African) men which are described in this specific sentence

For the most part, The life of Mahatma Gandhi keeps as an unopinionated read, however, the author’s choice of foregrounded themes and details can still be seen to highlight Fischer’s personal values. This is evident as at times throughout the book accurate and impartial anecdotes and tales are told, without any emphasis on one side of the story. For example, Fischer writes a chapter reflecting on the history of the British Rule in India, and the way in which it held authority through Gandhi’s life. Given the author’s career as a journalist providing him with the right amount of background information, he is able to maintain a completely objective outlook on the facts, while leaving Gandhi, rightly so, in center stage. However, later into the biography; more specifically only a couple of pages after Gandhi banished his own son from the house on moral grounds (page 271), Fischer writes: “Gandhi accepted everyone as they were. Aware of his own defects, how could he expect perfection in others?”. At this point it becomes apparent that Fischer has chosen to the foreground and therefore focus on the more honorable aspects of Gandhi’s principles, managing to somewhat redirect the readers’ view on Gandhi to be more aligned with his own. This example along with the abundance of others throughout the text acts as the foundation for the showing of the author’s ideas, attitudes, and values, to be built upon with his use of aesthetic language features.

In conclusion, throughout the biography, Louis Fischer underpins the life of Mahatma Gandhi with his own admiration of Gandhi’s dedication to his respective beliefs. He does so by mainly using hyperboles and imagery, amongst the tactical choosing to which of Gandhi’s stories are foregrounded or not. After finishing the biography, readers are likely to walk away having not just learned the straight facts to the stories of Gandhi, but also adopt a heroic lensed bias towards Gandhi as a result of Fischer’s use of aesthetic language.

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Life Of Mahatma Gandhi By Louis Fischer. (2022, February 26). Edubirdie. Retrieved August 18, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/life-of-mahatma-gandhi-by-louis-fischer/
“Life Of Mahatma Gandhi By Louis Fischer.” Edubirdie, 26 Feb. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/life-of-mahatma-gandhi-by-louis-fischer/
Life Of Mahatma Gandhi By Louis Fischer. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/life-of-mahatma-gandhi-by-louis-fischer/> [Accessed 18 Aug. 2022].
Life Of Mahatma Gandhi By Louis Fischer [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 26 [cited 2022 Aug 18]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/life-of-mahatma-gandhi-by-louis-fischer/
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