The Valvet Homgover - Summary | Major English Grade XI

Vaclav Have

The Valvet Homgover

Velvet Hangover refers to the Velvet revolution. A hangover is a type of uneasiness and types of sickness. Before 1940 in the Czech republic there was the system of communism. There was the revolution that brought about the end of communism. There was the arrival of democracy. The revolution is called velvet because it was peaceful. There was no murder, death and killing. After the arrival of democracy there was a free and fair democratic election for the parliament. The democratic parliament elected Vaclav Havel as the first president of the democratic Czech Republic. The present essay is the address speech given by Havel in the name of the nation and the citizens.

When Havel began to work as a president he felt very very weak. He was in a state of confusion he could not decide what do do and what not. He compares the time before 1940 with poetry and the time after 1940 with prose. Poetry stands close to the imagination and the prose to reality. Before 1940 there is the real challenge of protecting democracy. Reality is always hard and difficulty in rebuilding the country which was destroyed in communism.

Havel compares the present situation with the life of Sisyphus. Sisyphus was the mythical character who had a curse. The boy had to roll up a heavy stone from the bottom of the hill to the top of the hill. As soon as the stone was at the top of the hill, it began to roll down. Again Sisyphus had to repeat. It was the tragedy of Sisyphus his labor was meaningless and his life was also meaningless. Havel finds his life and the condition of the country as meaningless as the life of Sisyphus.

He says that before 1940 there was an old fear of communism and old fear is now replaced by a new fear. It is the fear of the unknown future. It is not only the personal felling of Havel. The whole country has the same fear, weakness, and confusion. Havel has the fear that he can not fulfill the gap between rich and poor people. That is why he says that Czech people should be honest and true to one another. The essay begins in a note of hopeless but ends in a note of hope. Havel says that the fear of defeat will finally lead to victory. The fear of failure will lead to success.

Important Questions Solutions:

1. What is the significance of Havel’s statement that ‘the poetry was over and prose was beginning’? [2063]
Ans. Vaclav Havel became the president of Czechoslovakia after the smooth transition of power from the Communists. Havel thinks that before coming into power they had only dreamt of a beautiful nation but now they have to prove it. Poetry is melodious and lyrical while prose does not have the charm and melody. Poetry is like a sweet dream while prose is like the ugly reality. In the time of struggle, they were happy because they had a beautiful dream and plans for the country. But now they have various challenges in the new democracy. The country can go in the wrong direction at any time. Planning for the future is simple but putting that plan into action is a difficult task. So, Havel says the poetry of planning was over and prose of action was beginning.

2. What are some of the disadvantages facing the new democracy as described by Havel in “The Velvet Hangover”? [2056]
Ans. Havel thinks that the new democracy in Czechoslovakia can ambush the country if not properly handled. He fears that the three dangers his newly democratic country is likely to face are – the rise of national conflict, loss of social –welfare protections, and rise of new totalitarian government controlled by money and money-minded people. The people of democratic nations have more personal freedom, so they may forget their social responsibility. The greatest danger to democracy is mob rule. Even the money-minded business community may try to buy the politicians and take control of the government. If democracy is not properly handled it is worse than the totalitarian government. 

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