On Shaking Hands By A.G. Gardiner : Summary
On Shaking Hands By A.G. Gardiner
On Shaking Hands : The essayist, A. G. Gardiner in this essay ‘On Shaking Hands‘, is talking about the custom of shaking hands. According to him, though shaking hands is a good custom yet it is not free from criticism. This custom is an amicable practise but formal accusation is directed against it on the hygienic grounds. Generally we shake hands either as showing our happiness on meeting someone or as a sign to part with someone.
The essayist thinks that it would need a pretty stiff act of parliament and a heavy code of penalties to break us free from deep-roated habit of hand shaking. Eventually, there are many people in the world who go through life without ever shaking hands. Perhaps, few people in the world manage to spend life without shaking hands. The essayist tells us about the various ways of salutation as the Japanese bows down, and the Indian salaams and the Chinese makes a grave motion of the hand nad whereas the Arab touches the breast of his friend to show their salutation.
But at the same time one’s way of greeting or salutation seems indecent and pastoral to the other country. For example western custom of shaking each other by the hands seems rustic to the Japanese whereas it seems unintelligible indecency to the Japanese when they salute by kissing each other. The essayist is giving example from the famous passage in Erasmus’ letters, in which he describes how people used to kiss in Tudor England and even how it was enjoyed by learned and holy men. Just like masculine kissing is an entirely continental habit developed among the Russians. The essayist is citing an example of the greatest display of kissing which he ever witnessed at Prince Kropotkin’s house. It was his seventieth birthday celebration. The essayist noticed that aged and bearded Russian patriarchs entered and wishing him with kiss and Kroptkin gave a resounding smack in return.
Kissing as a part of salutation strictly does not match on the moral ground. But the essayist believes that Englishmen could not conceive that they will ever be argued out of shaking hands with each other. The essayist compares that greeting with the grip of the hand to accompany. It would seems like controlling one’s anger or violation of sacred things. It seems like a bond without the seal and as inactive and cold as stepmother’s breath or an official type written letter with typewritten signature.
It seems as without shaking hands we are revolting with our hands. It seems that we chain our hands or taking their natural right to shake hand with others. The essayist is criticising shaking hands on hygienic grounds. As we should not prefer to shake hands with warm, clammy hands, listless, limp, skinny and energetic hands. The horror and hatred with which uriah heep filled our youthful mind was conveyed more through the touch of his hand than by any other situations. It was a cold, damp hand that left us fearful with the sense of morally disgusting and creepy things. The essayist tells us that sometimes shaking hands shows pollution, dishonesty or sometimes courage also.
Now the essayist is telling us various ways of shaking hands and its symbolic meaning. Some celebrities appear to analyse themselves into a handshake. It appears that by shaking hands they are discovering something. The essayist is giving us an example of a publisher Peaker, who advances with outstretched hand and places it in yours as though he wants to get rid of it. The essayist is saying that our hand shaking is symbolzing as it is cold or warm shaking or means of salutation. According to the essayist hand-shaking should be mutual and not to be unresponsive like Jelly-fish.
On the other hand the essayist is presenting before us hearty fellow stubbing, the sort of man who used to welcome ‘Tom and Jack’ with warm shaking hands or with genuine heart. Sometimes we have loose hand shake and other person shakes it and crushes it into a jumble of aching bones. Some people used to shake hands with limp and lingering hand that seems so energetic and full of affection that it does not know when to go. Some people used to shake hands that make you shudder and it seems as you are paying penalty for shaking hands. At the concluding part of the essay.
A. G. Gardiner is telling that is the joyous manner of greeting as oriental’s formal salaam and the Russian’s huge hug and it has less respect than the Arab’s touch with the fingertips, that is like an utterance of a blessing. But whatever we are saying or criticising the formal manner of shaking hands to prove this we need a lot of medical evidence before we stop to say what our poets say that there is a hand for my trusty friend and offer me a hand of yours to help.
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