What is the purpose of introducing the former student in Nissim Ezekiel’s poem ‘The Professor’?
‘The Professor’ by Nissim Ezekiel is a dramatic monologue where one speaker, namely the professor does all the talking and in the process reveals his character traits, thoughts and attitude. But, in every dramatic monologue, the presence of a silent listener is a necessity. In the present poem, it is the erstwhile student who acts as the listener. He does not speak directly. But from the speaker’s speech, readers know that he is present there and is answering the professor’s queries. The whole thing looks like a conversation between two persons, though it is actually only one man doing it. In short, without the student present there, the monologue wouldn’t sound dramatic.
Moreover, the student is someone before whom the professor is confident enough to speak up. This was necessary to bring out his thoughts and his character traits. If it were someone else in place of his former student, he might not have revealed his inner self so naturally. So, the student fulfils dual purpose in the poem.