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On the Face of It
By- Susan Hill
Theme / Central Idea of the Lesson. Analysis of On the Face of It
The play deals with the sense of loss, a sense of isolation and how to overcome it. The actual pain caused by a physical impairment is often much less than the sense of alienation felt by the person. The title ‘On the Face of it’ is used to mean that something seems to be good, true etc. but that needs to be changed when you know more about it.
Appearances are deceptive and most often, we go on dealing with impressions and prejudices about others without bothering to know them. People know Mr Lamb as a lonely, eccentric lame old man but in reality, he is a very kind and generous man who longs for company and he loves his fellow human beings along with all the other creations of God. Similarly, Derek appears to be an abominable ugly boy with a huge scar on his face whom no one loves or likes or befriends. He is the object of other people’s hateful stares, ridicules and neglect. Even his mother does not dare to kiss him on the cheek with the scar. Yet this boy who is suffering from an acute inferiority complex has a tender and sensitive heart. He wants to love and be loved. Fortunately, he meets Mr Lamb who transforms him with his healing touch.
Justification of Title
“On the Face of It” is an informal expression used to say that what may seem good but this opinion may change when you know more about it.
This definition of the expression should leave us in no doubt about the appropriateness of the title. Mr Lamb is called Lamely Lamb and mothers were afraid of sending the children because of his tin leg. Derry has a burnt face and everyone pities him. Only a mother could love such a face.
Both Mr Lamb and Derry have been facing hatred and alienation. Mr Lamb takes comments lightly. But Derry does not have the attitude like Mr Lamb. The attitude of the people needs to be changed. On the face of it, both suffer from disability but their attitudes are very different. The title is therefore justified.