Midwich Cuckoos

Midwich Cuckoos

  • Submitted By: amykitten
  • Date Submitted: 11/24/2009 7:26 AM
  • Category: English
  • Words: 1746
  • Page: 7
  • Views: 409

The hegemony of 'Englishness' in The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham (1957), though an example of a mythical ’universal truth’ according to Roland Barthes, is disrupted by the arrival of an unidentified threat into a small rural hamlet. This close reading will serve to expose the naturalised elements of quintessential 'Englishness' as represented in the text by the manifest content of characters and mise en scene, and demonstrate how Wyndham utilises his craft to give rise to the latent context of the sociological implications of mass immigration into Britain in the 1950s.

The text opens with the narrative voice informing the reader that it his birthday, and when interplayed with knowledge of the rest of the text, it is possible to glean a sense of impending new beginnings for the village Of Midwich. The opening passage unequivocally informs us that this is a science fiction novel despite not directly addressing any abnormal occurrences. We know that something untoward will be detailed in the future when we read that ‘One of the luckiest accidents in my wife’s life is that she happened to marry a man who was born on the 26th of September’. We are encouraged to wonder what fate the protagonists have managed to escape. The text does not follow the standardised fiction format identified later by Todorov in the 1960s, as the equilibrium of the society being discussed is not described first, rather, the impending threat to the status quo is initially introduced. This is an effective tool for Wyndham, as the reader never has the chance to get ‘too comfortable’.

Utilising Barthes cultural code as illustrated in his work Mythologies (1957), it is possible to identity elements which give rise to the novel being centred around the myth of ‘Englishness’. The opening chapter includes a lengthy description of the village of Midwich with its ‘triangular Green ornamented by five fine elms and a white railed pond’, quaint cottages infused with history and of course, a...

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