My Tailor by Stephen Leacock
Stephen Butler Leacock( 1869- 1944) was born in a wealthy family in Southern England in 1869. He was the third of eleven children. The family soon settled in Canada where Studied at Upper Canada College.
He then worked as a teacher, a job he disliked immensely and studied at the University of Toronto. He had been a man of great literary flair and talent.
Leacock’s literary work reflects humor one way or the other but there has been one this that was quite true to life.
His literary work shows his matchless wisdom in the use of his humor. He wrote his autobiography The Boy I Left Behind Me which earned immediate fame posthumously.
His famous work in fiction includes Literary Lapses, Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town, My Discovery of England, and Short Circuits.
Summary of My Tailor
Stephen Leacock is a famous English comic writer. His humor is light, harmless, free from bitterness, and mixed with pathos. The essay My Tailor is an excellent example of a humorous piece of writing.
In this essay, the writer describes the behavior and personality of his tailor. The writer has been associated with the tailor for the last thirty years. Whenever the writer went to the tailor’s shop, he saw his tailor standing at the back of the shop.
His measurement tape was woven round his neck. He also welcomed the writer and other customers with a smile on his face. He had only two varieties of cloth, tweed, and serge.
The tailor always selected the blue serge for the writer and the writer always accepted his suggestion. He did not buy any cloth without the help of the tailor. Perhaps this is the first amusement of the essay.
The tailor used the word Yes without any meaning is also funny. His behavior of showing cloth to his customers was also funny. He lifted his one knee in the air and the other knee-handed and dropped the cloth over it.
Whenever the writer visited the shop of tailor for a suit, the tailor only measured his chest. He advised the assistant to add half an inch in the previous measurement of the writer. The writer was fully aware that he was doing it only to flatter him.
One day the writer was surprised and shocked when he came to know of his tailor’s sudden death. The people were talking about the tailor that problems and worries of business had finished him.
They were also talking about the stock of cloth and his family members. The writer did not believe in the death of the tailor. He thought that he should live forever.
It was on the death of the tailor that the writer came to know that his wife had been left in economic problems. The tailor had a daughter but the writer did not know about it. He also acted as a sideman in the church.
The writer did not know these activities of the tailor because he did not talk about the family life. The writer always thought his tailor an immortal character.
Questions and their Answers
Q 1. Why does Leacock regard the tailor as immortal?
Leacock had been visiting his tailor’s shop for thirty years. The tailor welcomed Leacock smiling. He showed him the clothes and helped him to select the ones he liked. This loving care of his endeared him to the writer.
He always stands there- and stood there thirty years- in the back part of his shop, His tape woven around his neck, a smile of welcome on his face, waiting to greet me
We naturally begin thinking of loved ones as immortal. The death of any one of them cannot be easily believed by us. The tailor was such a dear one to the writer. Leacock was shocked when he came to know of his tailor’s sudden death.
He thought that he should have lived forever. The writer could not believe that a live favorite tailor would disappear so suddenly from the worldly scene. The writer liked the manners and ways of the tailor.
The writer believed that his tailor was an immortal person. His grief was based on his past experience. The tailor always stood in the back of part of his shop with a measuring tape around his neck.
He spread the cloth on his lifted knee to show it to the writer. He measured only his chest and flattered him saying that it was a little fuller than before. Then he would inquire the writer if he demanded anything in shirting and hosiery.
In the end, he talked about the weather. The matter of bill was always done by correspondence. The writer had never felt any change in the behavior of his tailor.
Pleasant weather we are having, he says. It is never other, So I notice, with him. Perhaps the order of suit itself is a little beam of sunshine.
His posture, his conversation, and his tailor would always be there standing and greeting his customers. It was on the death of the tailor that the writer came to know about his family. He had a daughter in bad condition.
He also worked as a sideman in the church. In fact, the writer saw only the business side of his tailor’s personality. His inner life remained hidden from him. That is why he considered him immortal.
There is, I am certain, a deep moral in this. But I will not try to draw it. It might appear too obvious
Q 2. Bring out the elements of Humour in Leacock’s essay “My Tailor”.
It is true that My Tailor is a humorous essay. Stephen Leacock is a great comic writer. He has written many humorous essays and stories. His humor is light, harmless, and free from bitterness.
In this essay, his humor is based on characterization. He describes the manners of his tailor in an amusing way. He explains humor by the professional manners of his tailor and makes the essay entertaining and delightful.
Stephen Leacock delineates beautifully the element of humour in his essay when he says that the tailor always stands at the back of the corner with measuring tape that was around his neck.
The way the tailor showed the suit material to his customers on his bended knee with one leg in the air seemed funny. He thought that when he was in that condition, it was difficult for a customer to resist him.
A serge, yes, continues my tailor, something in a dark blue, perhaps
The tailor tries to flatter his customers by saying them healthier when he took the measurement. His way of charging is also humourous because said to the customer that he would not charge if he had not a large consignment from Europe.
He only measured the chest of the writer. He said to the writer, it is a little fuller than before The writer was fully aware that he was doing it only to flatter him. The writer also tells us that his tailor always talked about the weather. He called it pleasant because he had received an order of suit.
A little fuller in the chest, my tailor muses
Another amusing point was about billing. The tailor always settled the problem of the bill by correspondence. We can conclude that the essay is full of many humorous and funny incidents that the writer remembers.
Q 3 What moral lesson can you draw from the essay “My Tailor”?
My Tailor essay presents a profound and extensive moral lesson where we found a harmless and gentle character tailor to whom the writer had been visiting for the last thirty years. The writer always found him calm and composed.
In our daily routine, we meet many characters who are associated with different vocations. Although we are very close to them yet we do not try to know them internally. we are unaware of their financial position or their circumstances.
We go to them for getting something from them but we make ourselves restricted. This is the dilemma of life. We do not share their worries or hardships. We only remain limited to business matters only. We think about them as mechanical human beings and not men.
It gives a glimpse of the life of a professional person who works like a machine. He keeps his profession and personal life at a distance. The writer presented his behavior, attitude, and action in a funny and humorous manner.
Writer’stailor never looked worried or disturbed. The writer believed that the tailor was a very happy and satisfied man. But the writer was shocked when he came to know of his tailor’s sudden death. Then he knew his business was not going well and his health was also failing.
He further discovered that he had a wife and daughters who were left in a bad situation. He felt sorry for the poor tailor that he had never bought anything other than suits from him. He blamed himself for not knowing about his personal life before.
They had been friendly to each other for such a long time but their conversation was confined only to business matters. In a way, the writer considered himself partly responsible for his untimely death.
The basic moral lesson of the essay is that we should understand the problems of other people. We should take care of our neighbors. In this way, we can help each other and share the joys and sufferings of others.