Charles Lamb used his own experiences to inform his writings. His essay the superannuated man explores different aspects of his life; however, they also reveal his personality, preferences, and values he holds. The Superannuated Man is concerned particularly with the tensions in Lamb’s life caused by the tension between his artistic sensibilities and the monotony of his job as an accountant. With humor and a few quips, Lamb highlights the monotony of his job that nearly made him an unnatural, mechanical creature. He was at his desk for so many hours that it felt as that the wood had penetrated inside my mind.
While he complains about his experience working as a professional, we see an odd and real-life discord in his behavior after the decision has been made to grant him early retirement from his job. Alongside the feeling of relief from living an orderly, regular life, we also see Lamb feeling a sense of unease. Lamb frequently goes to work with colleagues and feels there is a gap that is forming between them. Additionally, Lamb is extremely disturbed discovering that other people are using his desk and peg, even though Lamb knows this will happen.
Lamb begins by stating that anyone who has spent his life in the ‘stupid isolation’ of an office and lost his way and forgot the joys of a relaxed childhood or an unexpected vacation can understand his joy at the ‘deliverance of clerical servitude.
The third paragraph of the superannuated man focuses on Sundays of Lamb’s that have been a bit sour despite being a weekly holiday. The beauty and color of weekdays are absent on Sundays because they are devoted to worship and worship, which can be a very serious event. The closing of shops as well as the lack of the familiar sounds of cities, the grumpy faces of the traders, apprentices, and maidservants who’ve lost their sense of freedom, the absence of ballad-singers, and the general feeling of sadness caused due to the absence of activities has made Lamb’s Sundays incredibly monotonous.
The only other days the man has spent with himself are during the Easter holiday Christmas, Easter, and weeks-long summer holidays. The summer vacations, in particular, helped him get through the long work schedule. They always seemed to get a bit too fast, and instead of enjoying the freedom, Lamb generally spent the entire vacation wondering how to maximize the enjoyment.
In this section, Lamb discusses the impact the accounting job was a burden on his mind. He was increasingly scared of making mistakes that could have a major impact on his work, and this anxiety kept him awake in the form of nightmares that kept him awake all late at night. The advancing age of his life made it even more difficult to deal with anxiety, and the symptoms of depression started showing on his face.
The people around him became extremely worried about him, and upon discovering his struggles, his employers offered his early retirement.
The superannuated man as a personal essay
Lamb talks about the immediate impact of his retirement and his newly discovered freedom. He was initially overwhelmed by the glimmer of freedom without limits. Lamb jokes that he was suddenly so wealthy at a time that he believed that he would need a bailiff or steward to handle the “estates of time for him.
After his retirement, Lamb was beginning to appear more like a younger man due to the fact that Lamb had spent all of his time working for others, and in the time, he was spending with himself, he hadn’t aged much.
In Paragraphs 9 and 10, we see the disorientation of a man wishing to be free from his job and yet is entangled to it strangely. Lamb is disengaged from his colleagues at work. The intimacy he previously enjoyed with them has disappeared, and not even the kindliest gestures from them will convince him that all is exactly the same as it was previously. It hurts him to realize that the desk used to sit at and the peg that the hat he was hanging is now utilized by someone who is not him. In time he adjusts to his new lifestyle and gives an end to his work as a professional.
A few weeks later, Lamb is at peace and content with his life. He can now enjoy every moment without being overwhelmed and can be as free as he wants to. He is in control of his time. He no longer holds specific days of the week with dread. They are all the same to the individual, each exactly as enjoyable as others. Despite his years full of activities, he’s totally devoted to his contemplative life.
Lamb has become his very own boss. Lamb has fulfilled all of his obligations and is now completely free to do whatever Lamb wants.
Charles lamb prose style
Lamb speaks about all the above in a humorous style; however, as is typical of his work, the humor is closely linked to emotion. Every little detail of the comedy exposes the confusion of a man who is completely cut off from his world of work. Lamb’s is desperation-inducing humor. His life was filled with mishaps and painful events, and the only way to preserve his sanity was to come up with a sense of humor that would conceal the hurt from the world and him. Therefore, in the works of Lamb, his character is constantly visible, displayed to the audience, yet it is meticulously crafted and controlled before being presented.