Hi, I am a grade 12 student and I am having a difficulty understanding these sentences from an essay I was assigned in my English class. I wasn't exactly sure which forum this topic belongs to so if this is in a wrong place, please forgive me.
Here are two sentences I am having a trouble with:
"My theory -- true for myself, at least -- is that the cocktail party is a form of shock treatment comparable to the snake pit of earlier times. So great is the horror of it, so keen the sense of relief at escaping, that all one's other sufferings and problems are reduced to triviality."
I don't understand what shock treatment is and how it is comparable to the snake pit. Is the author making fun of cocktail parties?
Also, I was wondering you can help me with this:
from this essay I found this sentence to be very confusing:
The usual cocktail-party types were on hand -- languid immigrants, inferior decorators, insulting engineers, gloomy dames, misplaced trustees, impractical nurses..
I know for a fact that the author is playing with words. Languid immigrants is really landed immigrants, inferior decorators is interior decorator and impractical nurses is practicing nurses. But I have no clue on insulting engineers, gloomy dames, and misplaced trustees.
(1) Yes, the writer is using hyperbole in comparing cocktail parties to snake pits. He is saying that attending a cocktaill party is like being thrown into a snake pit-- very frightening. He does not like cocktail parties.
(2) impractical nurses = practical nurses
insulting engineers = consulting engineers
gloomy dames = (this, I think, is a different kind of wordplay: gloomy days + dames = unhappy women)
misplaced trustees = (this is also a different kind of wordplay: misplaced trust = dishonest trustees)