Love Is a Fallacy
Max Shulman
Love Is a Fallacy
• About the author
His writing often
Max Shulman (March
focused on young
14, 1919–August 28,
people, particularly
1988) is a 20th century
in a collegiate
American writer, best
known for his
television and short
story character Dobie
Gillis, as well as for
his best-selling novels.
Love Is a Fallacy
• About the author
He is one of America’s
best-known humorists.
He is a writer of many
talents---he has
written novels, stories,
Broadway plays,
movie screenplay电影剧
本, and television
Love Is a Fallacy
the story:
This text is taken from The
Many Loves of Dobie
Gillis(1951). Dobie Gillis,
the narrator, is a typical
American teenager who
frequently suffers from
romantic angst (worry,
anxiety). The character
appeared on a popular
television sitcom
(situation comedy) during
the 1950s .
Love Is a Fallacy
• This story is an interesting and humorous
story. In this story the narrator tells his
failure to win the heart of a young woman
with the force of logic, which proves to him
that “Love is a fallacy”.
Love Is a Fallacy
• The story:
• There are three persons in the story : Dobie Gillis ,
narrator, a freshman in a law school , the
protagonist of the story; Petey Burch , his
roommate whose girlfriend he plans to get; Polly
Espy, the girl whom he intends to marry after
suitable re-education. The narrator is quite sure of
his final success because he is smarter and it is
only logical that the girl will choose him. However,
the result is a great surprise to him because the
girl turns down his proposal and choose Petey
Burch, all because of what Dobie Gillis regards as
a “silly reason”, thus proving that “love is a
• In order to understand what a fallacy is, one
must understand what an argument is. Very
briefly, an argument consists of one or more
premises and one conclusion.
• There are two main types of arguments:
deductive(推论) and inductive(归纳). A
deductive argument is an argument that the
premises provide complete support for the
conclusion. An inductive argument is an
argument that the premises provide some
degree of support (but less than complete
support) for the conclusion.
• Fallacies are defects in an argument - other
than false premises - which cause an argument
to be invalid, unsound or weak.
• Fallacy means 1) an idea which many people
believe to be true but which is in fact false
because it is based on incorrect information or
faulty reasoning.2) a weakness and lack of logic
or good sense in an argument; Incorrectness of
• E.g. The belief that women are always weaker
than men is just a fallacy.
Teaching aim
I. Learn to appreciate English stories and the
development of the stories
• II. Learn to taste and appreciate the humor
embedded in this story and the writing
• III. Get to know some features of American
colloquial and slangy expressions
Love Is a Fallacy
• Introduction
• 1. Warm-up activity
• What is your opinion about love? What
does love mean according to you?
Love Is a Fallacy
• Introduction
• 2. theme : Love is a fallacy---it is inconsistent with
• The author wants to lead readers to the conclusion
that love’ is an error, a deception and an emotion
that does not follow the principles of logic. But
through this story, he has succeeded perhaps
unwittingly in revealing what love may sometimes
mean in the affluent society. Girls do not want
brilliant, gifted or educated husbands, but want
husbands who are rich and wealthy enough to
provide all the wealthy things (big mansions,
famous brand cars, etc.)
Love Is a Fallacy
• Introduction
• 3. What does the name Espy mean? Espy:
to catch sight of ( esp. faults, shortcomings,
etc.) , glimpse.
• the author might have deliberately chosen
this name, which may allude to her
amazing physical attraction.
• 4. In which place does the story reach its
climax? The ending when she refuses to
go steady with him.
Love Is a Fallacy
• Introduction
• 5. The role of raccoon coat: It is the
reason that the girl denies the narrator’s
love. It implies that love is not sth. that can
be deduced. Love is not a scientific study.
• 6. Language: a lot of short sentences ;
elliptical sentences ; inversion ; dashes;
metaphor and simile are used ; colloquial
sentences , irregular sentences, shortened
forms are used (to make the story vivid)
The Title of the Text
• The title of the story “Love is a fallacy”
has two meanings .
1) When “fallacy” is taken in its ordinary
sense, the title means “there is a
deceptive or delusive quality about
2) When taken as a specific term in logic,
the title means “love can not be
deduced from a set of given premises”
Characters in the
• There are three persons in the story :
• Dobie Gillis , narrator, a freshman in a
law school , the protagonist of the story ;
• Petey Burch, his roommate whose
girlfriend he plans to get;
• Polly Espy, the girl whom he intends to
marry after suitable re-education.
Type of writing
• This text is a piece of narrative writing. The
narrator of the story, Dobie Gillis, a freshman
in a law school, is the hero or protagonist. He
struggles against two antagonists: Petey
Burch, his roommate whose girl friend he
plans to steal; and Polly Espy, the girl he
intends to marry after suitable re-education.
The climax of the story is reached in paras
147-150 when Polly refuses to go steady with
the narrator because she had already
promised to go steady with Petey Burch. The
denouement(结局) follows rapidly and ends
on a very ironic note.
Macro-structure of the text
• Paras.1-3 prelude
• Part 1 : (Paras. 4-5) The boasting of himself
and downgrading his roommate.
• Part II: (Paras. 6-59) The whole process of his
deal with Petey. He succeeded in persuading
Petey to exchange his girl for a raccoon coat
• Part III : (Paras 60-120) His dates with Polly /
His re-education to Polly
• Part IV (Paras121-154) Love is not logical, but
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para1 the author’s remark or attitude
towards writing the story : spongy (not firm)
and flaccid (lacking firmness/energy) and
• 1.S1 Charles Lamb is the kind of merry and
enterprising person you rarely encounter.
He wrote the essays, Old China and
Dream’s Children, which set free the
informal essay. 像查尔斯 兰姆这样快乐和富
Love Is a Fallacy
• 2.Charles Lamb(1775—1834):
English essayist. He, in
collaboration with his sister
Mary, Published Tales from
Shakespeare in 1867. His
dramatic essays, Specimens
of English Dramatic Poets
(1808), established his
reputation as a critic and did
much in reviving the
popularity of Elizabethen
drama. Old China and
Dream’s Children are from
his collection the Essays of
Love Is a Fallacy
• 3.Why is Charles Lamb mentioned here? To make a
comparison between his writing (spongy or limb or
flaccid) and Lamb’s (informal)
• 4.There follows an informal essay that ventures even
beyond Lamb’s frontier: Here is an informal
essay which is even freer than the ones
Lamb wrote.
• 5.Ls. The author is being humorous with his selfmocking tone. This essay of his, of course, is
anything but “limp”, “flaccid” and “spongy”.
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para2 1. Vague though its category, it is
without doubt an essay: Although it is
difficult to say which category it belongs
to, it is undoubtedly an essay.
• 2. three elements in the essay: argument ,
evidence/instance , conclusion
Love Is a Fallacy
• Thomas Carlyle
• English author, is
considered as one of the
most important social
critics of his day.
Carlyle’s style, called
“Carlylese”, is a
compound of biblical
phrases, colloquialisms,
Teutonic (adj.日耳曼人的,
日耳曼语的)twists, and
his own coinings,
arranged in unexpected
Love Is a Fallacy
• 5.John Ruskin (1819-1900)
Love Is a Fallacy
• 5.John Ruskin (1819-1900): British writer and
art critic and social theorist who considered a
great painting to be one that conveys great
ideas to the viewer. He put forward the
principles that art was based on national and
individual integrity and morality and that art was
a “ universal language”. Later his art criticism
became more broadly social and political. In his
works he attacked bourgeois England and
charged the modern art reflected the ugliness
and waste of modern industry. He also
advocated social reform. His works include
Modern Painters (1843-1860).
Love Is a Fallacy
Para3 那么就读读下面这篇文章吧,它将
生生的事物,充满美丽 激情和心灵的创伤。
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para4 description of the author
• The author is satirizing a smug, selfconceited freshman in a law school, who
keeps boasting at every opportunity. He
heaps upon him all the beautiful words of
praise he can think of--- This
exaggerated self-praise and the profuse
use of similes and metaphors help make
the satire humorous.
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para5 description
of Peter Burch.
Love Is a Fallacy
• Paras4—5
• a comparison
between the two
characters Burch
and narrator.
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para5
• 1.Impressionable: easily influenced易受影响的
e.g impressionable young people. Impressive:
Making a strong or vivid impression: 给人以深刻
• 2.Faddist: n.趋于时尚者, 好新奇的人
• Faddish: Having the nature of a fad.具有追求时尚
的天性的; Given to fads.赶时髦的
• Fad : n. stresses the impulsive enthusiasm with
which a fashion is taken up for a short time (一时
流行的)风尚; 狂热一时的爱好;癖好, 嗜好 (craze)
• Fashion: The prevailing style or custom, as in
dress or behavior: 风格,时尚
Love Is a Fallacy
• 3. Fads, I submit, are the very negation
of reason: I believe following
fashion /crazes shows a complete
lack of sound judgment.
Love Is a Fallacy
• 4. Craze n. A short-lived popular fashion; a
• Acme: The highest point; Summit 最高点,
the acme of perfection 完美无缺
the acme of good behavior 最崇高的行为
the acme of science 科学尖端
the acme of one’s hope 最高的愿望
Love Is a Fallacy
• Not, however, to Petey: Ellipsis.
This was not the acme of mindlessness to
Petey. Petey did not consider such
behavior as the acme of mindlessness.
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para6. One afternoon, --• One afternoon, when I went back to my
dorm, Petey was lying on his bed. He
wore such a depressed look that I
came to the conclusion at once that he
was suffering from appendicitis.
“I want a raccoon coat”
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para11 Charleston n. A fast lively
characterized by a twisting step and
popular during the 1920’s. 查尔斯顿舞,
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para16 quality of raccoon
• Petey, Why? Look at it rationally.: Petey,
why must you have a raccoon coat? “it”
is a vague pronoun, standing for the
whole issue of owning and wearing a
raccoon coat.
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para20 my brain, that precision instrument,
slipped into high gear: My brain, which is as
precise as a chemist’s scales, began to work
at high speed.
• “anything?” ellipsis. Would you really give
anything for a raccoon coat? Are you indeed
willing to give anything away for a raccoon
• “anything.” He affirmed in ringing tones(他毫
不含糊地大声说道): ellipsis. Yes, I’m willing
to give anything for a raccoon coat.
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para22 1. It so happened that I knew
where to get my hands on a raccoon
coat: Luckily I happened to know where I
could get hold of a raccoon coat.
• 2.He did not have it exactly, but at least
he had first right on it: He did not really
own Polly Espy, or Polly Espy didn’t
really belong to him. They were not
married or going steady. But Petey got to
know her before him, therefore he had
the first claim.
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para23-24 Why was the narrator interested in
Polly Espy? What kind of girl was she?
• According to the narrator, he was interested in
Polly “for a shrewdly calculated, entirely
cerebral reason”. He wanted Polly to further his
career as a lawyer. Polly was beautiful, gracious;
only she was not intelligent. The narrator
considered “Polly” a beautiful dumb girl”. who
would smarten up under his guidance to
become a suitable wife for him.
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para23 she was a girl who excited the
emotions. But I was not one to let my
heart rule my head: She was beautiful
and attractive enough to arouse the
desires and passions of men, but I
would not let feelings and emotions get
the upper hand of reason or good
• Metonymy is used
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para24 I was well aware of the
importance of the right kind of wife in
furthering a lawyer’s career:
• I knew very well how important it was
for a lawyer to have the right kind of
wife. The right kind of wife would help
promote a lawyer’s career.
Love Is a Fallacy
• Pin-up: (American
colloq. ) n. a girl
whose sexual
attractiveness makes
her a subject for the
kind of pictures often
pinned up on the wall.
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para25 1.She was not yet of pin-up proportions,
but I felt sure that time would supply the lack:
She was not yet fully developed like pin-up girls
but I felt sure that , given time, she would fill up
and become just as glamorous/charming.
• Not yet of pin-up proportions: not yet as
attractive as the picture pinned up on the wall .
• Time would supply the lack: given time, she
would develop in right direction. Time will give
her a perfect figure.
Love Is a Fallacy
• 2.She already had the makings: She
already had all the physical qualities
needed for developing into a very
beautiful woman.
Making: The abilities or qualities needed
for development: 素质发展所需的能力或
性格。She has the makings of a fine
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para26 S2 她婷婷玉立 体态优雅,这一切都表明
• Ease: Freedom from constraint or
embarrassment; naturalness. 不拘束,不拘谨;
• Bearing: The manner in which one carries or
conducts oneself:举止/风度,一个人的行为方式:
• poise: The bearing of the head or body; mien. 姿
势,样子the poise and bearing of a champion.冠
• breeding: Training in the proper forms of social
and personal conduct. 教养
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para26 gravy: n. The juices that drip
from cooking meat. 肉汁, 烹肉时滴出的
• sandwich
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para26 Ls. the implied
humor is that the woman
had an usually good
appetite. She wolfed down
• Without even getting her
fingers moist: Her fingers
did not even get slightly wet.
Showing her dainty and
refined table manner
Love Is a Fallacy
• para27 In fact, she veered in the opposite
direction: In fact, she went in the opposite
direction. This is a sarcastic way of saying
that she was rather stupid
• Paras 25—27 The author elaborates the
three qualities that he believes to be
important to a good wife 1) beautiful 2)
gracious 3) intelligent
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para30 go steady [American colloq] date someone
of the opposite sex regularly; be sweethearts成为
关系相当确定的情侣, 经常只和某一异性朋友约会出
• Para 34. if you were out of the picture, the field
would be open: If you were no longer involved
with her( if you stop dating her) others would
be free to compete for her friendship/love.
• Out of the picture: not considered as involved in
a situation
• Open: free to take part in or compete in ( the
games being held in the field)
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para.40
• I said with a mysterious wink.
• A transferred epithet. He said
mysteriously with a wink. ( the wink
was not mysterious)
• Paras41—59 He succeeded in persuading
Petey Burch to exchange his girl friend for
a raccoon coat with him.
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para45 Mince: To moderate or restrain
(words) for the sake of politeness (由于礼
• Don’t mince words: say what you mean. 不
要忌讳, 把你的意思直说出来
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para50 1.He was a torn man: He was
tormented, not knowing what was the right
thing to do.
• 2. he looked at the coat with the
expression of a waif at a bakery window:
Comparing his longing for the raccoon
coat with the expression of a hungry
homeless child looking longingly at the
bread at a bakery window.
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para50
• 3. Back and forth his head swiveled, desire
waxing, resolution waning: 1)His head
turned back and forth (looking at the coat
then looking away from the coat). Every
time he looked, his desire for the coat grew
stronger and his resolution not to give away
Polly became weaker.
• 2) desire waxing, resolution waning:
antithesis. “desire waxing” is balanced
against “ resolution waning”
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para.51
• “It isn’t as though I was in love with Polly,”
he said thickly. “ Or going steady or
anything like that”
• Petey is trying to rationalize his action. He
is trying to find an excuse for finally
deciding to accept the coat and give up
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para. 53
• “What Polly to me, or
me to Polly”
• A parody from
Shakespeare’s Hamlet,
act II, scene 2
• “ What Hecuba to him
or he to Hecube that
he should weep for
her ?”
• It’s a deal
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para. 57
• The coat bunched
high over his ears
and dropped all the
way down to his
shoe tops.
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para60 1. How did the narrator’s first
date with Polly Espy go?
• The narrator had his first date with Polly
Espy to find out how dumb she really
was. The result was disheartening. Polly
was more ignorant than he had
expected. The narrator realized that he
had to make a great effort to make Polly
smart enough to be his wife.
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para 60
• 2. How does the language used by Polly
strike you? Find some examples in the
• Espy : delish—delicious; marvy—
marvelous; sensay—sensitive.
(simple—minded girl) these words create
the impression of a simple and rather
stupid girl. These words increase the
force of satire and irony.
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para61 What is the level of speech in para61?
What purpose does it serve?
• The language is very formal. The narrator felt
very depressed after the first date with Polly. To
bring this feeling out, and to create a humorous
effect, the writer uses formal phrases such as--• This loomed as a project of no small dimension:
To teach her to think appeared to be a very big
task, and at first I even thought of giving her
back to Petey.
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para62 Why did the narrator teach Polly Espy
logic? Did he succeed?
• The narrator wanted a wife who would help to
further his career as a lawyer. Polly was pretty,
but the problem with her was that she did not
know how to think, so he decided to teach her
logic, the science of thinking. He succeeded
only too well for in the end Polly refused to go
steady with him and used all the “logical
fallacies” she had been taught to reject his offer.
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para 75 it will be better if you stop tugging
at my sleeve: Polly, in her excitement ,
was tugging at the narrator’s sleeves and
urging him to explain more logical fallacies.
The narrator told Polly rather brusquely to
stop this.
• It will be better: a request showing
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para77 I hid my
exasperation: The
narrator was greatly
annoyed by Polly’s
stupidity when she did
not understand that she
was only making a
supposition. He
managed to control his
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para79 I fought off a wave of despair: For a
moment a feeling of hopelessness came over me,
but I managed to keep it off.
• Para97 –proof: (often used in combination)
resistant to; unaffected by 耐…的,防…的,不能
穿透的。Waterproof watches防水表; a fireproof
• The girl simply had a logic-proof head: Logic
never has sense to her. She can never
understand/grasp logic. Polly had a head that
was resistant to ( would not be affected by) logic.
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para98 1. Who knew? A rhetorical question,
expressing some doubt or some hope. He
might still succeed in teaching Polly some logic.
Nobody could tell for sure.
• 2. maybe somewhere in the extinct crater of
her mind, a few embers still smoldered:
Perhaps there is still some intelligence left in
Polly ‘s empty or stupid mind. Here Polly’s
mind is compared to the extinct crater of a
volcano and some sparks of intelligence is
compared to embers(metaphor).
• 也许,在她死火山般的脑袋里,还有一点余火
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para 98
• 3. Maybe somehow I could fan them into
flame: Perhaps I could develop the little
intelligence still existing in Polly’s mind.
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para111 plate : A light-sensitive sheet of
glass or metal on which a photographic
image can be recorded. 感光版,在其上能记
• Pitchblende: A massive variety of the
mineral uraninite . 沥青铀矿,铀矿的一种
Love Is a Fallacy
• From para61—112. the narrator’s
reaction to Espy : with a heavy heart--gently---hid his exasperation---fight off a
wave of despair---sigh deeply---consult
my watch---keep from screaming--testily---coldly
• Para120 pshaw interj. Used to indicate
impatience, irritation, disapproval, or
disbelief. 哼,啐, 用来表示不耐烦,生气,
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para122 She said with an airy wave of her
hand: She waved her hand in a gay
manner. This showed that she was pleased
with the praise she received.
• Para123 1. Over and over and over again I
cited instances, pointed out flaws, kept
hammering away without let-up: Over and
over again I gave examples and pointed
out the logical mistakes involved. I kept
emphasizing all this without stopping.
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para123
• first everything was work, sweat, and
darkness--- all was bright: At first it was
very hard work (sweating and working in
the dark) but finally he saw the light at the
end of the tunnel and knew he had
succeeded. When he went out at the other
end of the tunnel he found the sun shining
brightly. (After a lot of hard work he
managed to make Polly think logically.
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para124 She was a fit wife for me, a proper
hostess for my many mansions, a suitable
mother for my well-heeled children: Here the
author describes the role, which he thinks, a
wife should play. First she should be a proper
hostess of a rich man who owns many
mansions. In other words she should be good
at entertaining his rich friends and clients and
thus further his career. Second, she should be
a good mother and properly look after his rich
and prosperous children.
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para125 Did the narrator love Polly Espy?
How did he try to “acquaint her with his
• The narrator claimed that he loved Polly.
Just as Pygmalion loved the perfect
woman he had fashioned, the narrator
now loved Polly as his creation. Now he
was ready to propose for marriage.
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para125
• Pygmalion n. (Greek mythology) A king of
Cyprus, and a sculptor, who carved and then
fell in love with his own statue of Galatea,
Lovesick, Pygmalion goes to the temple of the
goddess Venus and prays that she give him a
lover like his statue; Venus is touched by his
love and brings Galatea to life.
• 希神】塞浦路斯国王(热恋自己雕的少女像),
他雕刻了一个妇女的塑像, 然后陷入对她的爱恋
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para131 How can you say that we are
well matched on the basis of only five
dates: How can you come to the
conclusion that we’d make a good
couple when we’ve been out together
only five times. Your conclusion is hasty
because it is not based on enough facts.
Love Is a Fallacy
• Para138 Frankenstein the Swiss medical
student Frankenstein ( whose name serves
as the title of Mary Shelley’s novel, published
in 1818)created from parts of corpses a
monster that destroyed himself later. People
have persisted in calling the monster
Frankenstein; The word has gone on to refer
to 1)“ monster” having the appearance of a
man; 2) and a creation or an agency that
slips from the control of and ultimately
destroys its creator.
• 瑞士学生弗兰肯斯泰因(此名
弗兰肯斯泰因; 此词后来演变
Love Is a Fallacy
• Why does the narrator mention Pygmalion
and Frankenstein?
• These two allusions are well chosen. He
planned to be Pygmalion, to fashion an
ideal wife for himself; but he became
Frankenstein because Polly (his student)
ultimately rejected him (her teacher).
Love Is a Fallacy
• How did Polly respond to the narrator’s
argument for going steady with her? Why
did she reject him? What does it show? As
the story progresses, Polly turned out to
be smarter than the narrator had
previously thought.
Love Is a Fallacy
• How does this contrast contribute to the
humor of the piece?
The narrator taught Polly how to
recognize the common fallacies of logic.
He succeeded too well because the
whole thing backfired on him. Polly
refuted all his arguments as logical
fallacies and finally rejected him. She
rejected him because he didn’t own a
raccoon coat as Petey Burch did.
Love Is a Fallacy
The End
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