Tribulation and Comedy in Kingsley Amis' "Lucky Jim"

Essay by LAWSON WINDERCollege, UndergraduateA, December 1996

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Despite misfortunes, comedy possesses the ability to elevate one's mood in distressing or unhappy times. The sweet flavour comedy adds to life makes many situations much more palatable. In Kingsley Amis' Lucky Jim, the Jim Dixon character is cast into unfavourable relations with other characters who make his existence quite trying. Jim's involvement with Margaret is marked by his desire to see it end. His association with Professor Welch incessantly lands him in a disagreeable position. Moreover, Jim does nothing to amend this, and the reader becomes frustrated with Jim's inaction, and his ready acceptance to let things carry on as they are. However, Jim's extraordinary comic sense continually lightens the severity of his predicament and makes living with his problems much easier.

Jim Dixon's relationship with Margaret is the source of considerable anxiety and distress; yet, he dodges the need to remedy this. Jim sees Margaret as a girl possessing 'minimal prettiness' (Amis, 1953, p.

105), a person who is unenjoyable to spend time with, and whom he knows is manipulative. At the same time, he feels compelled to continue seeing her. Although it is not clear, his behaviour seems to be partly derived from a tragic sense that beautiful girls are not for him. As well, it seems to come from an unprecedented, yet noble sense of duty combined with pity; and a belief that he hasn't 'got the guts to leave her' (Amis, 1953, 201). Essentially, Jim lacks confidence. In noting Margaret's deceit, one observes from the inception of their friendship, that Margaret is manoeuvring Jim into something he is not aware he is being involved: 'It had seemed only natural for a female lecturer to ask a junior...male colleague up to her place for coffee, and no more civil to accept. Then suddenly he'd...