'Same Time, Same Place' by Mervyn Peake

Essay by Michael CullisonUniversity, Bachelor's November 1996

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In literature, all stories are written so that they convey to readers a central idea or theme. Writers compose their works so that the theme they are writing about is brought out in a story in such a manner that the various elements of the story work together in communicating the theme. The better a writer is at their work, the more literary elements there will be in their stories that complement each other and seem to work together. In the story 'Same Time, Same Place' by Mervyn Peake, the main theme that is evident is that things are not always as they seem. Peake uses the literary elements of characters, setting, contrast, and many others in a way that they all lead the reader to the same main point. These literary elements and how they work together in communicating Peake's theme will be the focus of this essay.

The literary element of setting is used in 'Same Time, Same Place' so that it plays an integral role in the formation of the theme. Peake sets his story in a town circus. He describes this circus as 'the center of the world...where anything might happen'(p.264). Circuses are generally known as places where the unusual and odd aspects of humanity and the world congregate. They are places where the impossible is said to be possible. The reason that this type of setting helps create Peake's theme of things not always being as they seem is that this is precisely what circuses are all about. When one thinks of a circus, images of the two-faced man and the fire-eater are conjured up along with many other images of things not always being as they seem.

Peake also uses the element of characters in his story to...