Enduring Love

Unreliable Narrating in Enduring Love by Ian McEwan

February 15, 2021 by Essay Writer

Enduring Love is infused with McEwan’s didactic ideas and messages. Being the dominant narrative voice of the novel, Joe is the main source of knowledge to the reader. The idea of bias or unreliable narrating is key when analysing the text; It is essential to examine the effect of Joe’s narrating “What I liked here was how the power and attractions of narrative had clouded judgement” This gives the audience the sense of storytelling form Joe and questions his reliability as a narrator. There are some different perspectives of the events that occur during Enduring Love offered however and these need to be considered too

The biased narrating can be shown through Joe’s storytelling of events and he can distort the message to the readers. This is key for readers because if they are fed false information the message the narrator is trying to pass on will be lost. “I suspected that at any moment he would be reaching out to touch me” This is how Joe exaggerates the truth and shows his unreliability as the narrator, as he does not ell the complete truth and covers key information. This false leading of the narrative voice links to D.Lodge statement in the critical anthology “Even a character-narrator cannot be one hundred percent correct” The statement supports the idea of a character narrator being unreliable and dishonest which is Joe as he continues to twist key events and not take responsibility for his actions. “I am not prepared to accept that it was me” illustrates Joe’s denial and refusal to accept the blame for this accident. “’Not prepared to take blame” suggests how he does not want to admit even to himself; Joe is unreliable because he does not face reality himself. This idea of denial is very important because it is highlighted throughout the novel and is huge flaw in Joe’s character, never accepting fault nor being responsible for his mistakes. “I’m holding back, delaying the information. I’m lingering in the prior moment because it was a time when other outcomes were still possible.”

Throughout the novel there are chapters where we get letters from Jed and Clarissa, these are the only other point of views from other characters. This shows how we only ever really get to see the perceptions of events from Joe’s opinion, we never get to see how other characters react with controversial subjects within the novel. As Joe may be seen as an unreliable narrator it can difficult to see who is telling the truth. “It would make more sense of Clarissa’s return to tell it form her point of view” even when the chapter purports to be from another’s point of view it is still spoken through Joe which doesn’t make it wholly from Clarissa’s view because Joe is the one controlling the narrative still. This further supports the idea that Joe is an unreliable narrator and links to D.Lodge; statement in the critical anthology “the point of using an unreliable narrator is indeed to reveal in an interesting way the gap between appearance and reality” As we only get to see Joe’s side of the story it is more difficult to see if he is telling the truth; the other characters opinions or points of view are minimised

Joe refers to his own actions by trying to justify them; “Why did you swipe the message?” asks Clarissa, Joe is embarrassed by Jedd showing his affection, but in response to justify his reasoning for swiping the calls, he claims that the police won’t help. By deleting these call’s he sends mixed messages to all characters and to the reader; he’s very indecisive and does not indicate to Jedd that the feelings are not mutual. The indecisive nature of Joe links to D.Lodge’s statement in the critical anthology “his narrative is kind of a confession, but riddled with self-justification and special pleading and only at the very end does he find an understanding of himself” The anthology suggests characters use the narrative to give a better understanding of themselves, and they are able to justify their actions even if they are wrong. Joe is unable to accept that Clarissa feels he is dealing with the situation in the wrong manner and while this fact helps us to understand Joe we have to look beyond him to get a clear understanding of the novel.

Joe’s identification of “de Clérambault’s syndrome” is a decisive moment in the novel. Joe was the one to diagnose Parry and to Joe he is now easily dealt with, instead of being an unpredictable and erratic force. Joe realises that he has become obsessed with Parry, just as Parry has become obsessed with him “There was research to follow through now and I knew exactly where to start”. This self-awareness illustrates Joe’s larger self-awareness of his position of a narrator with bias. Joe references his continuous career disappointment at the end of the quote, reminding the reader of his bias and motivations. “It was as if I had at last been offered that research post with my old professor’ The reader may understand that he became obsessed because of his scientific background and he felt as if he was pursuing his dream.

On one of the few occurrences when we get to hear Clarissa’s vacant voice, we hear her expressing the same feeling as Joe. While she previously believed that their love was ‘meant to go on and on,’ she is now not sure of her feeling towards Joe. Clarissa is now doubtful of both the enduring power of love and the objective truth of awareness. Her longest sentence describes what their love used to be, an enduring stream of relative happiness. She breaks that sentence off, and finishes her letter with two very short sentences, including one that isn’t even a proper sentence. As an English professor, Clarissa clearly has the ability to express her purposes through writing. She uses her ability to manipulate words to imply this, however she rarely speaks throughout the novel as Joe is the more dominant spokesperson. This could be seen as masculine dominance as Joe controls the novel and he even speaks about Clarissa’s interpretation within chapter nine.

Appendix 1 was a scientific report on De Clerambault; syndrome “British Review of Psychiatry” and this report is able to give facts of the novel that Joe is unable to provide. The report focuses on Jed Parry’s life “intense and lonely child” these are key events during Parry’s life that as a narrator cannot pick up on. The report was able to justify Parry’s illness and shows the reasoning of his homo-erotic obsession. McEwan introduces his view of religious ideology “isolation and religious belief intensified” with this we understand how Jed Parry was trying perceive his dream of “God’s Glory” and by the appendix being wrote by someone other than Joe we can have a better understanding of Jed Parry’s actions.

Joe Rose narrative voice is the key to the readers understanding of the novel and leads the audience through his own view of personal events. However, as Joe does narrate he does bring in a form of an invented character because he is still involved within the story. Joe does control the perception of character by being the narrator he is able to control the readers feeling towards each character because we are only ever given his personal view. Joe’s viewpoint does give us a great understanding towards each character and although it could be bias he speaks mainly of the truth, and this is seen at the end of the novel. The idea of masculine dominance could be picked upon as the character that has fallen in love with Joe, has been male is this McEwan’s subtle way of trying to in force this masculine supremacy. The idea of the affair of Joe and Jed show’s how even in love, the male is chosen before a women.

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The Theme of Obsession in Doubt and Enduring Love

February 15, 2021 by Essay Writer

John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt and Ian McEwan’s Enduring Love explore the theme of obsession, it’s cause and consequences it poses when someone to go to extreme ends to achieve their goal. The characters in both Doubt and Enduring Love want to protect something and prove that someone is presents a threat. Sister Aloysius believes that the students are in danger from a predator and that their future is at stake while Joe wants to protect himself from a possible danger that Jed Parry will bring. Although their motivations are different, Sister Aloysius and Joe find themselves go to great lengths to prove themselves and eliminate someone who they believe poses a threat. Sister Aloysius sees it as her duty to find out whether Father Flynn has an inappropriate relationship with a student and does everything in her power to prove that he is guilty despite her beliefs while Joe, despite his rationalism, can’t stop thinking about Parry and how dangerous he is, and is unable to stop his theories getting in the way of his behaviour. Both characters’ obsession suggests their behaviour is a result of powerlessness.

To begin with, both characters have strong beliefs in which they live their life. Joe in Enduring love shows that he is inclined to examine events from a scientific perspective, even while recollecting times of great stress. Joe’s reference to “vertiginous theories of chaos and turbulence” reveals not only his educatedness, but also his desire to narrate in a scientific way (Mcewan 17). On the other hand, Sister Aloysius emphasizes the channels of power and communication that run throughout the Catholic church. She scolds Sister James for trying to deal with misbehaving students on her own implying that “there’s a chain of discipline. Make use of it” (Shanley 8). She is pointing out the fact that Sister James is at the bottom of the institution’s chain of power and she reveals her belief that teacher should follow the pre-established customs of the church. Although their beliefs are different, one in science and the other in Catholicism and its hierarchy, Joe and Sister Aloysius follow a set of rules on how to live their life.

Living their life by a set of rules, both characters finds a reason to prove that someone poses a threat. Two days after the ballooning accident, Joe finds that his emotional state is already being affected by Parry’s aggressive, obsessive behavior, which awakens Joe’s irrational obsession: “Being hounded by Parry was aggravating an older dissatisfaction. It comes back to me from time to time, usually when I’m unhappy about something else, that all the ideas I deal in are other people’s” (McEwan 75). Although Joe has a good career, Parry’s illogical obsession has driven the rational Joe to an illogical obsession of his own. He admits that that it’s an emotion — unhappiness — that always drives him to obsess about this “older dissatisfaction” and contemplate about his professional life. That the seed of such an important life decision could be simple unhappiness about “something else” is deeply irrational and suggests more complexity to Joe’s psyche than he is willing to admit. On the other hand, Sister Aloysius’ questions about Father Flynn suggest that she’s suspicious of him for some reason, though she doesn’t clarify why this might be the case. She tells Sister James to be alert but she “must be careful not to create something by saying it” (Shanley 15). Sister Aloysius instructs Sister James to keep an eye out for anything worth reporting aligns with the idea that she herself is worried about something. In turn, she urges Sister James to adopt a more suspicious, discerning outlook. She also implies that Sister James has a moral responsibility to protect the children in her class. Both characters try to justify their actions by insisting that someone threatens both the student and their safety.

In addition, both characters start to consume more time on their suspicions and can’t feel powerless over the situation. The day after the ballooning accident, Joe is working in the London Library when he is distracted by the sensation that he is being watched. He states, “I was afraid of my fear, because I did not yet know the cause. I was scared of what it would do to me and what it would make me do. And I could not stop looking at the door” (McEwan 44). Joe’s fixation on the swinging doors, and his fear of his own inexplicable fear itself, point to the obsession that Jed Parry is about to infuse into Joe’s life. Parry is, indeed, stalking Joe, and Parry’s obsession with Joe will make Joe somewhat obsessed with Parry in return. This initial moment of unease, in which Joe is afraid of what fear “would make me do,” points to the ways in which Parry will unsettle Joe’s life and put his worldview in conflict with the emotion and irrationality of people and circumstances around him. Here, Joe cannot know what is to come and it is this fact, more than his unease at Parry’s presence, that makes Joe afraid and feel powerless. While Sister Aloysius’ unwillingness to speak more directly about the matter is linked to the Church’s hierarchy, since she can’t address Flynn about her misgivings because he is her superior. When Sister James suggests that they tell the bishop about Sister Aloysius’ suspicions, she exclaims, “the hierarchy of the Church does not permit my going to the bishop. No. Once I tell the monsignor, it’s out of my hands, I’m helpless” (Shanley 23). There is a clear chain of command that is already set in place, one that dictates who can talk to whom. It is difficult for her to make sure Father Flynn is held accountable for his actions which makes her feel powerless. Unable to go directly to the bishop, she’s forced to handle the matter on her own—a difficult burden that will likely bring trouble her way. Nevertheless, she’s willing to pursue the matter because she sees it as her moral duty to protect the children of St. Nicholas School. As both texts reach their climax, both characters are determined to eliminate Jed Parry and Father Flynn, and they try to take matters in their own hands which cause them to disregard the people around them.

To a certain extent, both Joe and Sister Aloysius overstep their boundaries and neglect the people that will be affected of their behaviour. Jed Parry has sent Joe a long and deep personal letter, which Clarissa has just read, leaving her visibly shaken: “It wasn’t that she believed Parry, I told myself, it was that his letter was so steamily self-convinced, such an unfaked narrative of emotion — for he obviously had experienced the feelings he described—that it was bound to elicit certain appropriate automatic responses” (McEwan 101). Parry’s letter contains deeply felt emotional cues, and Joe believes that those cues are bound to provoke a response in anyone, especially Clarissa who is emotionally sensitive. Clarissa is disgusted by his attempt to bring reason to bear on what has been an intuitive personal response. Furthermore, she sees Joe’s reasoning as a way not to deal with her criticism of him. By seeing Clarissa’s emotions so coldly, Joe is able to avoid confronting the fact that she is upset with the way he has treated her. Joe believes that Clarissa is unwilling to acknowledge the threat posed by Jed Parry. This intensifies the tension in Clarissa and Joe’s relationship. On the contrary, horrified by Mrs. Muller’s reaction to her revelation regarding Father Flynn and Donald Muller, Sister Aloysius threatens to throw the boy out of school just to protect him. She exclaims, “ I will this whatever way I must. It won’t end with your son. There will be others, if there aren’t already” (Shanley 49). Sister Aloysius’s statement that she’ll kick Donald out of school in order to protect him from Father Flynn illustrates just how intensely she believes it’s up to her to keep the children in her school safe. Trying to impress this upon Mrs. Muller, she points out that Father Flynn will continue to molest young boys if he isn’t stopped — an idea intended to weigh on Mrs. Muller’s conscience and ultimately convince her to stand up to the priest. Both Joe and Sister Aloysius try to deal with the situation by themselves without consulting the people that are involve in the situation.

Although both characters were driven by their obsession, both texts ended differently. For Joe, his desiresfor forgiveness exist entirely outside the realm of reason: “This breathless scrambling for forgiveness seemed to me almost mad, Mad Hatterish, here on the riverbank where Lewis Carroll, the dean of Christ Church, had once entertained the darling objects of his own obsessions. I caught Clarissa’s eye and we exchanged a half-smile, and it was as if we were pitching our own requests for mutual forgiveness, or at least tolerance” (McEwan 230). As a consequence of such thinking, Joe is much more cautious. Though he admits that he would like forgiveness and he wants to set his relationship right, he is unwilling to give into this emotion. He may one day be able to ask Clarissa for forgiveness and forgive Clarissa for her perceived disloyalty to him, but he will have to think things through. His decision cannot be a purely emotional matter. Sister Aloysius, on the other hand, reveals that sometimes a person has to commit smaller sins in order to counteract more significant injustices: “In the pursuit of wrongdoing, one steps away from God. Of course there’s a price” (Shanley 58).This, it seems, is why Sister James finds it so difficult to adopt Aloysius’s worldview, which makes it hard for a person to maintain “peace of mind.” And though Sister Aloysius has strong convictions regarding right and wrong, she suddenly feels an overwhelming sense of doubt. She suddenly exclaims, “Oh, Sister James! Ihave doubts! I have such doubts!” (Shanley 58). This doubt, though, has nothing to do with whether or not she should have protected Donald Muller. Rather, the entire situation has caused her to doubt the morality of the Catholic Church, an institution to which she has devoted her entire life, and her decisions that lead up to this point.

Both texts do not simply tell the characters’ stories, but rather their beliefs, values, and their situation that they are in that lead up to their decisions. Obsession cannot simply be obtained. There are reasons behind them in every story, and some might want to protect something important to them. Both McEwan and Shanley effectively portrayed the story of obsession in a way that other themes can be incorporated.

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Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet – an Enduring Love Story

February 15, 2021 by Essay Writer

The world’s most enduring love story, Romeo and Juliet, continues to have as much relevance for a modern day audience as it did in Shakespeare’s time. It is a masterpiece of lyric poetry. The story of star-crossed lovers, whose struggle for love and happiness in spite of familial opposition ends in senseless death, has been called the greatest work of romantic story ever written.

Romeo and Juliet was written by Shakespeare most probably in 1594 or 1595. It’s still popular after it was written around 400 years ago, because themes are still relevant. We can see them at present time. They are human incentives. Humans live with them and they don’t change by the time. Its film versions made as well. One of the evidence is that we all heard it’s still studied at high school and universities. There other reasons are the plot development and characters and their development.

The action of Romeo and Juliet involves two carefully balanced groups of characters. At the head of the two feuding families of Verona are Lord and Lady Capulet and Lord and Lady Montague. Their children Romeo and Juliet have two cousins who are clearly contrast each other. Both family have servants which represent loyalty theme.

The character development is well-prepared in the play. When we first meet Romeo, he was a moody rejected lover. But he had not always been like this, solitary and withdrawn. The very fact that his father, Benvolio and Mercutio all make so much of his changed ‘humour’ shows that his present behaviour is a drastic alternation and that he was not like the Romeo they used to know; ” Madam, an hour before the worshipp’d sun, peer’d forth the golden windows of the east, a troubled mind drove me to walk abroad, where underneath the grove of sycamore. (That westward rooteth from this city side) So early walking did I see your son. Towards him I made, but he was ware of me, and stole into the covert of the wood. I, measuring his affections by my own, Which then most sought where most might not be found, being one too many by my weary self, pursu’d my humour not pursuing his, and gladly sunn’d who gladly fled from me.” (Act1, Scene 1, 116-129). We know that he was well thought in Verona. The Old Capulet says he wasn’t like that before; ” A bears him like a portly gentleman, and to say truth, Verona brags of him to be a virtuous and well-govern’d youth.” (Act 1, Scene 5, 65-68) . The most interesting thing Capulet says is that Romeo is ‘well-govern’d’, clearly, he was not always infatuated with Rosaline, Romeo was a popular, lively and sociable member of the society.

The plot of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is which engages the reader from the very beginning of the play. It’s here that the two families which have an ongoing hatred between each other are revealed to the audience.

Shakespeare’s play explores issues through its contrast of themes such as youth and age, life and death, joy and sadness, and passion and control. What emerges from this analysis is a mix of messages and themes to do with human relationships.

Viewed from this fresh perspective, Shakespeare’s tragic drama of the “star-crossed” young lovers is seen to be an extraordinary work. Romeo and Juliet was an experimental master piece at the time of its composition.

As a result, I think, this is the greatest teenage love story of them all. Shakespeare didn’t invent the tale of the star-crossed lovers, he just did it better than anyone else.

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The Outsider and the Society in Enduring Love and Ethan Frome

February 15, 2021 by Essay Writer

An outsider is defined as ‘a person who does not belong to a particular organization or profession.’ In Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome the protagonist, Ethan Frome, is portrayed as an outsider of the early 1900s society as he contemplates his duty to his wife, Zenobia Frome, and his passion towards her cousin, Mattie Silver. Likewise, the protagonist in Ian McEwan’s Enduring Love, Joe Rose, develops into an outsider as he becomes enthralled with Jed Parry who believes that something has passed between him and Joe, something that sparks in Parry a deranged, obsessive kind of love. In both novels, different settings are constructed where society has a direct impact upon the lives of the protagonists.

Wharton emphasises the struggle Ethan has by being condemned through her descriptions of Mattie, as if she is some sort of ethereal being:

He had been straining for a glimpse of the dark head under the cherry-coloured scarf and it vexed him that another eye should have been quicker than his. (Wharton 16)

Ethan standing out in the snow while the dance goes on inside portrays his isolation from society which supports Jennifer Travis’s statement: ‘If it had no social side, if it implied only what it brought of suffering and sorrow to the partakers in it, then we could do little but cry out in self-protective impatience.” (Travis 64) It is jealousy of Denis Eady’s wealth that shows his sense of inferiority as well as his tendency to blame external forces, for instance his poverty, for his situation in life. Money was of great importance in the 1900s and the United States’ global power was attributed to its economy. The ‘cherry’ scarf highlights the importance of Mattie’s character and how her persona contrasts that of the residents of Starkfield. The colour red connotes feelings of passion as well as danger which is foreboding seeing as Ethan’s eventual downfall was due to his passion for Mattie. Wharton, as a Romantic author, utilises darkness and light as a motif for the, as yet undiscovered, feelings that Ethan has for Mattie. Ethan keeps to the shadows knowing that he is morally wrong as a married man. The agent of light is used to represent morality, innocence and new found love. This novel can be seen as a reflection of Wharton’s own life as she herself had an affair with Morton Fullerton in 1908 but believed that she was the victim because her and her husband shared no intellectual or aesthetic interests and this victimisation she felt is reflected in her depiction of Ethan Frome. In a similar way, in Enduring Love, McEwan shows a similarly stark contrast between Joe Rose and Clarissa Mellon. After the ballooning incident, Clarissa insists that she and Joe “have to help each other” (McEwan 33) by acting on their mutual feelings for each other. Joe realizes that by constantly rationalising every moment of the tragedy, he has “been trying to deny [himself] even the touch of her hand.” (McEwan 33) Clarissa, on the other hand, has “effected a shift to the essential” (McEwan 33) by leading Joe to bed she is trying to help her husband remember that their love is what truly matters. The reader sees here that McEwan sees love as a cure for desolation. This is the height of the power of love: it makes adversity in one’s life bearable by providing them an alternative emotional dimension into which to escape. As Michael Ruse appropriately states: “What McEwan suggests is that Joe, through his knowledge and love of science, has managed in some sense to transcend his purely biological nature” (Ruse 10). However, it is because of this that Rose has become an outsider, because he has transcended his biological nature, Joe only makes things worse: for himself, for Jed, and particularly for the relationship between himself and Clarissa. This occurs because Joe is at times reluctant to show affection to his wife. Thus showing how Joe’s rationalism can lead to him being condemned.

The titular characters in both novels are also condemned as they do not play by the rules of love. A critic of Ethan Frome has stated: “Ethan‘s struggle is between passion and duty” Indeed it is, as such can be seen since Ethan has a duty to be Zenobia’s husband yet he has a burning passion to live his life with Mattie Silver. One may argue that this struggle is made more prominent when readers see that Ethan is reluctance to alter his situation. Zeena states: “I can’t go on the way I am much longer.” (Wharton 35) This implies that she is unhappy with her ill health and desires to get better, showing she is more committed to her marriage than Ethan. In contrast, her husband offers no pity upon learning of his wife’s pain. Instead Ethan’s mind is preoccupied with the thought of himself and Mattie alone in the home together, as he put it, ‘like a married couple’. (Wharton ) Wharton utilises the silence between the couple to symbolise the absence of affection in their marriage. In the late 1800s, affairs became a target for more opprobrium and concern as the American society was defining itself morally. For this reason, Ethan can only fantasise about what life would be like with Mattie. Ethan is condemned as he does not commit to his marriage nor to his wife which is what was expected. Likewise in Enduring Love, Rose does not play the game of love but instead plays God. This is urged along by Jed Parry’s homoerotic obsession with Joe which Jed supports with his ovver zealous religious beliefs. He believes he has been chosen by God to evangelise Rose: “It’s not only that you deny there’s a God – you want to take his place.” (McEwan 136) Parry is referring to one of the seven deadly sins, pride. Pride is defined as an excessive view of one’s self without regard for others and is seen as many as the most serious of the deadly sins. Jeremiah 9:23-24 states, “…Let not the mighty man boast of his might…but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me…” Here Rose not only does not play the game, in this sense, he seems to be playing God. In turn Parry surpresses his homosexual urges while Joe is in denial. Michele Roberts responds to this by asserting: “Joe has to face the fact that he doesn’t, for all his scientific approach to life, understand loving a woman either.” (Independant) He cannot discuss the situation at hand with his wife due to his obsession with Parry which has broken their relationship. Despite at first appearing as an ideal relationship, their bond breaks as they cannot support each other. The 90’s were a dynamic battle for gay rights. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, Senator Jesse Helms, is well known for his public opposition to the ‘homosexual lifestyle’ and described such people as ‘degenerates’ and ‘weak, morally sick wretches.’ (Newsweek) These views from people with a higher social status would have projected a negative stereotype of the LGBTQ+ community.

Furthermore, Ethan may be struggling merely due to the fact that readers are only given Ethan’s point of view, thus we are given an unreliable narrator: “She slipped from him and drew back a step or two, pale and troubled.” (Wharton 69) Judging by Mattie’s astounded response to Ethan’s audacious act, there may be some underlying guilt within Mattie as her reaction casts doubt on her provocation for flirting with Ethan. If the novel was written from Mattie’s point of view or Zeena’s, the struggle would shift to them. From Mattie’s point of view, and to some extent Ethan’s, this move would be considered as something alluding to an affair. Adultery was subversive in a way that the 1950s middle class would not have condoned, especially in a town such as Starkfield. This is similar to Joe’s encounter with Logan’s wife, each have their own narrative. On one hand, Joes is disturbed by his own cowardice while Logan’s wife is desperate in finding the truth about her husband’s death, employing her own narrative:

…That’s what he would have done without her, and it’s pathetic. He was showing off to a girl, Mr. Rose, and we’re all suffering for it now. (McEwan 123)

This supports Zohreh Ramin’s statement that: “Joe wishes to exercise his power by constantly imposing his beliefs to what he himself believes has happened.” (Ramin 4). Although a stark rationalist, at times he cannot even provide proof for his hypothesis, which is alarming to the passionate Clarissa. This suggests that Joe may not be used to being argued against due to his intellect and career as a science writer. His way of thinking emotionally distances him from those he knows, straining their relationships. Without seeing the point of view of other characters, readers are lead to believe that Joe Rose is condemned because he does not play by the same rules as the other characters.

Ethan is known to have somewhat of a dispassionate demeanor about emotional circumstances, for example, the tragic loss of his parents:

His father’s death, and the misfortunes following it, had put a premature end to Ethan’s studies; (Wharton 15)

Rather than seeing the death of his father as an emotional loss, he saw it as an end to a life that may have been, for this reason he may harbour some negative feelings toward his parents for being destined to live his life in Starkfield. Ethan chose to stay perhaps due to the reactions the townsfolk would have to his departure:

It was a long time since anyone had spoken to him as kindly as Mrs Hale. Most people were either indifferent to his troubles, or disposed to think it natural that a young fellow of his age should have carried without repining the burden of three crippled lives. (Wharton 80)

The word ‘somebody’ and the phrase ‘There warn’t ever anybody but Ethan’ shows readers how the villagers expect Ethan to become a caretaker without regard to his aspirations. In the 1900s, a woman’s place was in the home – women gave up work after marrying, and husbands were the breadwinners but Ethan had to take up both the roles after his parents passed, emphasising that he was an outsider as he had not married yet. This justifies Bjorkman’s critical response: ‘…after all, the tragedy unveiled to us is social rather than personal… Ethan Frome is to me above all else a judgment on that system which fails to redeem such villages as Mrs. Wharton’s Starkfield.’ (Bjorkman 54) Ethan is broken physically and emotionally since the beginning of the novel. His misery captivates the narrator as the whole novel represents the narrator’s effort to reconstruct the tragic circumstances of Ethan’s life. Ethan is an outsider in this circumstance because he had aspirations and actually left Starkfield when he was a young man while the other villagers have been unable to leave. This is also seen in Enduring Love. Christopher Lehmann-Haupt suitably states: “As a scientist he simply can’t deviate from the facts of the case. But this suggests that his point of view is limited and that there may be more to the story than he can see.” (The New York Times). Rose’s inability to relate to emotional situations and deviate from facts causes him to be an outsider, as seen in Chapter One:

If one ever wanted proof of Darwin’s contention that the many expressions of emotion in humans are universal, genetically inscribed, then a few minutes by the arrivals gate at Heathrow’s Terminal Four should suffice. (McEwan 4)

Instead of thinking of this situation from his heart, Rose instead uses ‘Darwin’s contentions’ to project his emotions. The fact that Rose knows that ‘the many expressions of emotion in humans are universal’ suggests that he himself may know that he is an outsider due to his apathy at times.

Another way one may say that Ethan Frome is an outsider as he doesn’t play the game, making him an outsider to the society in which he lives, is through the way he victimises himself to justify his love for Mattie. Ethan does not play the role of a loving husband and victimises himself by demonising his wife:

Ethan looked at her with loathing. She was no longer the listless creature who had lived at his side in a state of sullen self-absorption, but a mysterious alien presence, an evil energy secreted from the long years of silent brooding. (Wharton 66)

The imagery that Wharton associates with the confrontation between Ethan and Zeena reflects the motif of darkness. Repeatedly, Ethan utilises words connoting to a demonic presence, ‘creature’, ‘alien presence’ and ‘evil energy’ presents a negative depiction of Zeena which makes Ethan seem like an innocent victim in the game of love. The confrontation of the married couple occurs in their bedroom, a room which Zeena is easily able to assert her dominance. Notably, Zeena has previously asserted herself over Ethan in the bedroom, such as when she made a derisive comment to him about shaving every morning since Mattie’s arrival, and that Ethan thinks best when he isnot in his own home with his wife. Wharton points out Ethan’s awareness that he is trapped in a loveless marriage. She alludes that Ethan will not violate his marriage vows and the rules of society. Ethan is aware of the control Zeena has over him. There was a lot of social pressure from the elites who penalised and as late as the 1950s and ’60s, a man who wasn’t married or who was divorced was often passed over for a promotion. During Ethan’s desperate time of need, being married for the sole reason of having company would eventually take a toll on his marriage. Joe Rose in Enduring Love also believes himself to be a victim to justify his actions which in turn caused him to be an outsider. During the events following the accident, Joe has a brief conversation with Jed Parry. In this exchange Jed develops an obsessive infatuation in Joe. Joe rationalises Parry’s infatuation by classifying it as a pathological condition which he wants to see as:

…a dark, distorting mirror that reflected and parodied a brighter world of lovers whose reckless abandon to their cause is sane. (McEwan 128)

After diagnosing Parry with de Clérambault’s syndrome, Joe contemplates the impact it had and will have on his life, this reveals the importance of emotion within Enduring Love. Also known as erotomania, de Clérambault’s syndrome is distinguished by the delusion, usually in a young woman, that a man whom is considered to be of higher social standing has romantic feelings towards her. Rose hopes to use Parry’s love as means to bring Clarissa back to him. Rose uses the definition to understand the love he and his wife share by comparing it to Parry’s obsession. This approach is a reference to the good and evil division shown in Paradise Lost, a text that Clarissa speaks of during the balloon incident. Logan’s fall from the sky causes Joe and Clarissa’s fall from their love, which is a necessary step for them to truly understand their emotions. By contradicting their true love to Parry’s delusional love, their love grows stronger and ultimately survives. However, according to Adam Mars-Jones “…his own experience calls into question any so confident a separation of healthy from diseased.” (Guardian). As Mars-Jones correctly states, Joe is an outsider as he is unable to properly diagnose Parry with a suitable disease, despite his education. The critic’s statement suggests that Rose’s ‘experience’ is not enough for him to fully comprehend the situation at hand so he cannot discern a healthy mind from what has become diseased. The reason why Rose found it difficult may have been due to the fact that mental illness in the 90’s had a lack of awareness. A study conducted in 1998 revealed that Londoners did not consider themselves well informed about mental illness but do think they should know much more. Only one in four respondents said they are very well informed.

In conclusion, the two novels present readers with different perspectives of both the outsider and the society in which he lives. Joe Rose’s analysis of events takes force from his interest in science and rationalism. For him, it is the narrative which is explainable through reason and information, in other words, scientific facts which count as important. This in turn makes him an outsider to the important feelings he has with his wife. Ethan Frome’s indecisive nature and reluctance to act on his powerful relationship with Mattie and his contrasting emotions to his wife makes him an outsider in the relationships he has with both women. As mentioned earlier, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt states: “But this suggests that his point of view is limited and that there may be more to the story than he can see.” This provides more questions rather than answers; if we are all unique in our own way, are we outsiders because we do not play the game society intends us to play?

Works Cited

  • Ian McEwan, Enduring Love, Jonathan Cape, 1997
  • Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1911
  • Adam Mars-Jones, I Think I’m Right Therefore I am, Guardian News & Media Limited, 1999
  • Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, Enduring Love’: Science Vs. The Divine, With Suspense and Passion, The New York Times Company, 1998
  • Jennifer Travi, Arizona Quarterly: A Journal of American Literature Culture and Theory, John Hopkins University Press, 1997
  • Michael Ruse, Intelligent Design and Its Critics, Metanexus, 1999
  • Michele Roberts, Enduring Love by Ian McEwan, Independant, 1997
  • Zohreh Ramin, Unraveling Identity in Ian McEwan’s Enduring Love, Canadian Academy of Oriental and Occidental Culture, 2012

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Enduring Love, a Novel by Ian McEwan. The Theme of Conflict in the Opening Chapter

February 15, 2021 by Essay Writer

“Enduring Love” Analysis – Chapter 1

The opening chapter of “Enduring Love” is the most well-known part of the entire book; particularly because of the extreme tension McEwan creates. The suspense is introduced from the very first sentence. The shortness and the fact that “The beginning is simple to mark” is so straight to the point that it captures the readers’ attention from the outset. It also helps to set the pace for the whole novel by getting straight in to the action and skipping any excess narrative passages.

The narrative discourse is also a contributing aspect to the tension created. The way in which McEwan neatly changes between present – past – reflective – future – present creates a different kind of suspense to any previous; a more ‘see-sawing’ type. This type of Postmodernist narrative technique reminded me of a similar technique found most commonly in music written in the later half of the Nineteenth Century. Altering the time signature in almost every bar of music is engineered to create more flow and movement; perhaps not dissimilar to creating flow or pace in a piece of writing.

The sentence “I’m holding back, delaying the information” displays a metafictional and retrospective narrative technique that is also heavily attributed to Postmodernist writing. This device is particularly useful because, by drawing attention to the fact that tension is being created, the reader will effectively fall for it and believe in the tension. “I’m changing my style now” is another good example of the writer commenting on what he has just written. However, another interpretation of the former could be that the reason any information must be withheld is because it was a too traumatic and painful experience to touch upon. This interpretation would also fit with the rather confessional tone that remains for the entire chapter.

There is a recurring and particularly strong theme of conflict which stays present throughout the novel. This theme is present in many areas of this particular extract, for example the serenity and calm of the picnic scene at the start versus the impending doom and tragedy and the conflicting differences in personality between the three main characters; Jed Parry, Joe Rose and Clarissa. Leading on from this point, these three characters are perhaps symbolic of our society and culture. Clarissa represents the literary world, Jed represents a more religious take, whilst Joe represents science. The theme of conflict is also extended to pose questions to the reader about the nature of humanity, the directness of which enhances the very colloquial, conversational style used. I believe the strongest example of this to be the decision between whether to hold onto the balloon and be killed or let go of the balloon and let someone else be killed as it has a direct link to the whether it is possible to draw a line between right and wrong; another strong theme in this extract. The reference to crops as being symbolic of the aftermath of the balloon accident implies that is the surrounding climate and social situation that determines where a line can be placed, and that being exposed to the elements or social environment can alter the outcome drastically.

There are certain aspects of the narration in this extract which would lead the reader to believe that Joe Rose is a particularly unreliable narrator. “Its door, or doors” and the use of the phrase “I think” generates doubt over the clarity of his memory of the event. Therefore, by implying that the number of car doors left open would actually be of great significance later in the plot, makes the reader question the validity and strength of the narration. Another contributing aspectis that Joe Rose is, being the focaliser himself, likely to be very biased; the fact that the character of Joe is entirely an extended interior monologue adds validity to this assumption. Although the sudden shift in perspective to “I see us through the eyes of a buzzard” does work as far as the more cinematic element is concerned, and it is inevitably very psychologically convincing, it does however lead the reader to believe that only an unreliable narrator could imagine a scene from a bird’s point of view.

Also, there are aspects of Clarissa’s characterisation which imply that she would be a more reliable narrator than Joe. The character of Clarissa is portrayed to have far more self control than Joe does, for example she “resisted the urge to run” towards the tragedy, whilst Joe had no hesitation and ran straight into the danger in a fashion that could perhaps be perceived as being a little infantile. Clarissa being displayed as a “well-placed observer” strengthens this statement, and the fact that Joe is not actually the protagonist (only a potential character at this point) could make him again, particularly biased. The direct contrast between Clarissa’s self discipline and Joe’s chid-like panic is shown clearly through the reference to the “knowable, limited plane of the snooker table”. This shows that Joe’s personal way of controlling difficult and unmanageable situations is to bring it back to something he can cope with, in this case the snooker table is something he would be absolutely comfortable within his social class. It is also significant that the spacial analogy of a large square setting of a field is condensed into a much smaller square setting of the snooker table, again suggesting that control is only there for Joe when he is able to alter things to manageable dimensions. The “comforting geometry” of a snooker table implies that for Joe to regain composure and control, things must be precise, ordered and geometrically perfect. The mathematical grace of writng and structure McEwan uses is significant in portraying Joe’s intense need for control and also how control is gradually lost in during the period of time leading up to the tragedy; the exact and balanced structure of the beginning declining slowly into a lack of any pattern at all. This again questions just how far Joe Rose is actually in control of his mind and consequently, his actions.

The juxtaposing images “cool neck” and “black foil” of the wine bottle is just one example of the ominous imagery McEwan uses to build up to the coming tragedy. The blackness and smothering of the foil is symbolic of the stifling moral decisions to be made later in the plot, and perhapness of the darkness and smothering fear linked to the balloon accident. The word “labyrinth” is another example of this. The word “labyrinth” itself has connotations such as the Minotaur and danger lurking beyond immediate eyesight; again giving reference to the unknown and darkness.

The final point I shall explore is again linked to the theme of conflict, and it is in the ambiguity of the title itself; “Enduring Love”. This has three distinct and separate connotations; everlasting love, love that suffers in its own right, or perhaps, love that must be suffered. This perfectly symbolises the barriers between the main characters, with true love being between Clarissa and Joe, whilst the relationship between Jed and Joe is simply infatuation. This title questions the nature of reality, and makes the reader feel uncertain as to whether reality is as it is perceived to be. It also questions whether being stuck inside the “furnace” and moral vacuum our society has created generates a greater proportion of strongly conflicting moral decisions, or whether the social climate has such a potent effect on those in it that the word ‘humanity’ is no longer able even to hold a distinct meaning.

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Romeo and Juliet: Different Personalities and Enduring Love in Shakespeare’s Play

February 15, 2021 by Essay Writer

Sarah Dessen once wrote, “There is never a time or place for true love. It happens accidentally, in a heartbeat, in a single flashing, throbbing moment.” The concept of love at first sight is emphasized in the story of Romeo and Juliet. In this tragedy, Shakespeare portrays both Romeo and Juliet to be passionate and loyal towards one another, but Romeo is more impulsive, aggressive, and a bit of a coward whereas Juliet is more mature and shows courage. In the play of Romeo and Juliet, both characters show a different side of how they feel but also have similarities to how they approach love.

Romeo is a lovesick teenage boy in beginning of the play. “O, teach me how I should forget to think!” (I.i.219). He’s grieving over Rosaline, of how she didn’t love him back when he had proposed to her. Comparably, Romeo seemed impulsive when he meets Juliet. His words, “Then move not, while my prayer’s effect I take.” (I.v.104), trying to force a kiss. The way Romeo goes after Juliet shows his aggressive side. In the balcony scene Romeo interrupts Juliet’s thought, “Call me but love, and I’ll be new baptis’d;/Henceforth I never will be Romeo.” (II.ii.53-54), not caring that they are foes. He shows himself as a coward towards the end of the play, when he learns that Juliet is dead. He fears of being alone so he poisons himself. He kills himself because he is afraid of a life without her.

Juliet trusts her life and future to Romeo, “Shall I speak ill of him that is my husband?” (III.ii.97). She pushes through with courage and refuses to believe the worst of him after he gets involved in a fight and kills her cousin, Tybalt. Her act of innocence and obedience becomes lost after falling in love with Romeo and she becomes more mature. “He shall not make me there a joyful bride!” (III.v.117). She is defiant against her parents’ marriage wishes to Paris.

Romeo and Juliet are passionate and loyal characters. The balcony scene, when Romeo asks Juliet to marry him, “It is too rash, too unadvis’d, too sudden.” (II.ii.122-124), even though she thinks it’s unwise she allows herself to be persuaded by Romeo. Thus, she allows her own and his feelings of passion to override her rational thoughts. Sadly, their rash, passionate decision to marry immediately helps lead to their deaths. Corresponding to Juliet’s loyalty towards Romeo, “But wherefore, villain, didst thou kill my cousin?” (III.ii.100). She’s doubting her anger at Romeo after learning he killed Tybalt. Romeo shows passion through his words. In the tomb with Juliet, as he takes the poison he says, “Eyes, look your last. /Arms, take your last embrace! And lips, O you/The doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss/A dateless bargain to engrossed Death.” (V.iii.112-115). He’s killing himself because of the love he has for Juliet, because he can’t live without her. When Juliet wakes and finds Romeo dead, she does the same and kills herself because of how strong their love is.

In the event of the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, their love is shown to be honorable and true. Their difference in personalities, circling around aggressiveness, impulsiveness, cowardice, courage, and maturity do not hesitate their love they carry for one another. Their love is true and succeeds with the devotion both characters hold.

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The beautiful monument for enduring love of Taj Mahal

January 12, 2021 by Essay Writer

As a tribute to a beautiful woman and as a monument for enduring love, the Taj Mahal reveals its subtleties when one visits it without being in a hurry. The rectangular base of the Taj Mahal is in itself symbolic of the different sides from which to view a beautiful woman. The main gate is like a veil to a woman’s face that should be lifted delicately, gently, and without haste on the wedding night. In my tradition, the veil is lifted gently to reveal the beauty of the bride. As one stands inside the main gate of the Taj Mahal, his eyes are directed to an arch that frames the Taj Mahal. The dome is made of white marble and the background works its magic colors. The colors change at different hours of the day. It sparkles in the moonlight when the light hits the white marble and catches the glow of the moon. The reflections of light seem to depict the different moods of the woman.

Negative events were not really triggered in this situation. In this case, Mumtaz Mahal was in love with her husband, Shah Jahan. She wanted to have the love continue and that is why she had given those four promises to help realize that the love can still grow strong. The monument symbolizes the love that Shah Jahan had for his deceased wife, Mumtaz. Mumtaz wanted this monument more than anything. She wanted to be remembered with a monument, which symbolizes “eternal love”.The event has triggered being part of the wonders of the world. It started to attract many people from other cultures because of its beauty and the mystery behind it. It intrigues people on how one person designs a monument for his wife and tries to accomplish the promises she gave before she had died. People wonder how that much love from one man to his wife can show that there is always hope in a relationship even after the significant other dies.

Everyone has their own favorite time to see the Taj Mahal. Crowds will distract you from the cool, serene presence of this flawless monument. The best way is to try arriving just as it opens or as it is about to close. A few minutes alone in the perpetually echoing inner sanctum will reward you far more than several hours spent on a guided tour. The sensuously curving lines of the temple of love demand to be savored without interruption, then the presence of the building itself will impart its own message.The problems and issues of the Taj Mahal was very difficult back then. Actually, it was two main issues, but they were very burdensome. The only issue was the death of his wife and getting the beautiful monument done. The lengthy wait and the overcoming of her death was too much for Shah Jahan, but he had promised to his loving wife that he would eventually complete the sacred monument in her name.A Muslim, Emperor Shah Jahan in the memory of his dear wife and queen built the Taj Mahal at Agra, India.

The society at the time was very productive and created a lot of success and hope for the Indians there. When Mumtaz Mahal was still alive, she extracted four promises from the emperor: first, that he build the Taj Mahal; second, that he should marry again; third, that he should be kind to their children; and fourth, that he visit the tomb on her death anniversary. He kept the 1st and 2nd promises. The construction began in 1631. The expert craftsman from Delhi, Qannauj, Lahore, and Multan were employed. They constructed the monument over a period of twenty-two years, with employment of 20,000 workers. The total amount spent on the beautiful and sacred monument was 32 million rupees.

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Romantic and Passionate Love in ” Enduring Love”

January 12, 2021 by Essay Writer

In both “Twelfth Night” by William Shakespeare and “Enduring Love” by Ian McEwan, the pursuit of love is presented within the main characters. Their attempts to pursue a relationship could be seen as romantic and passionate; however, it could also be argued that the pursuits verge on being obsessive. In the case of “Twelfth Night”, it could be argued that obsession is simply a continuation of infatuation; something that expresses deep love and true emotion. However, in “Enduring Love”, the reader is introduced to obsessive love extremely early on, with the idea of romantic love being disregarded by the reader due to the unreliable narrator. There are arguments to suggest that pursuing romantic love and obsession are both similar and separate concepts.

In “Twelfth Night”, Orsino’s pursuit for Olivia is arguably more romantic than obsessive. His pursuit for romantic love is seen to be innocent and harmless, indicating that there is a clear divide between pursuit and obsession. When Curio asks ‘Will you go hunt my lord? The hart.” Orsino replies by saying “Why, so I do, the noblest I have.” The image of Orsino hunting deer juxtaposed with the image of Olivia implies that Orsino is attempting to portray an impression of masculinity and power by referring to the killing of animals, which was a feature of courtly love commonly practiced. As this form of pursuit was so prominent in Shakespeare’s era, it could be argued that Orsino was not in any way obsessive at this point. The pun in ‘The hart’ implies that Orsino is also attempting to bring comedy to the situation, which the audience watching the play would have found more humorous than obsessive. The concept of Courtly Love often includes males having to earn the love of a lady, which is clearly seen with Orsino’s romantic pursuit for Olivia as she “till seven years’ heat, Shall not behold her fact at ample view.”

Similarly, in “Enduring Love”, it could be argued that at some points, Jed Parry is attempting to pursue Joe romantically, with little evidence of obsession. In his first letter to Joe, Jed begins by saying “I feel happiness running through me like an electrical current.” Later, he says “Then I got it. You had touched them in a certain way, in a pattern that spelled a simple message. Did you really think I would miss it, Joe!” Jed using stereotypical and conventional love letter language such as abstract nouns, similes and metaphorical language to convey his adoration to Joe implies that Jed’s pursuit for love is innocent. The chapter being in the form of a love letter has implications that Jed is aware that his love for Joe is not reciprocal, therefore must resort from communicating from a distance. The use of direct address in “Did you really think I would miss it, Joe!” denotes how personal and deep rooted this romantic pursuit is. As “Enduring Love” is a postmodern novel with a metanarrative, the reader is made aware of the extent of Jed’s obsession, therefore they are unable to see the romantic and innocent nature of the letter. The reader’s perception of Jed is seen to be negative from the start of the novel, as the narrator is not only telling the story from hindsight, but also with the notion that it is a narrative in mind.

It could also be argued that there is a fine line between pursuit and obsession, and that obsessive love can be seen in both texts. In “Twelfth Night”, Viola’s drastic measures to be in close proximity to Orsino could be seen as an example of obsessive love. When Orsino asks Viola to charm Olivia on his behalf, Viola says “I’ll do my best to woo your lady. (Aside) Yet, a barful strife! Who’er I woo, myself would be his wife.” The use of aside to voice Viola’s inner thoughts is symbolic of how deceiving she is willing to be in order to pursue a romantic relationship with Orsino. The rhyming couplet of “strife” and “wife” is reflective of the end of a love sonnet, symbolising how Viola’s obsessive pursuit for Orsino is based around a romantic infatuation. The extent to which Viola is willing to change her identity to fit the expectations of a man she has just met demonstrates her obsession with Orsino. The idea of obsession is also explored in “Enduring Love”, as Jed suffers from de Clerambault’s syndrome. In a letter to Joe, Jed says “Joe, Joe, Joe….I’ll confess, I covered five sheets of paper with your name.” “Confess” has religious implications, with connotations of sin and wrong doing. This religious imagery juxtaposed next to “I covered five sheets of paper with your name” implies that although Jed believes his pursuit for romantic love with Joe is feasible, it is immoral. It could be argued that in Jed’s case, because of his condition, the pursuit for romantic love cannot happen without obsession being involved. Religious connotations can be found during the balloon accident when Jed asks Joe to pray with him. “Parry wasn’t giving up. He was still on his knees” could be seen as foreshadowing the nature of his romantic pursuit for Joe. Jed not letting go of the balloon, a symbol of chaos, reflects how he is unable to let go of his obsession with Joe. This image being so early on in the book implies that Jed’s pursuit for Joe was in fact, always obsessive.

In “Twelfth Night”, it can be suggested that Orsino has an obsession with the idea of love, which is far greater than his obsession with the woman he is attempting to pursue. When telling Viola what message to deliver to Olivia, he says “O, then unfold the passion of my love, Surprise her with discourse of my dear faith”. Orsino’s repetition of the personal pronoun ‘my’, as well as his use of empty adjectives such as ‘faith’ and ‘passion’ imply that he is more concerned with making himself look good than attempting to engage with Olivia. It could be suggested that Orsino’s constant pursuit of love has caused him to become self-obsessed, as well as forming an obsession with love itself. This is mirrored when he says “Away before me to sweet beds of flowers. Love thoughts life rich when canopied with bowers.” The rhyme in ‘flowers’ and ‘bowers’, reflective of a love sonnet, has implications of love and passion. However, ‘love thoughts lie rich’ implies that he is not thinking of Olivia, but simply love as a whole. In contrast, in “Enduring Love”, Jed’s obsession is purely based on an individual; however he attempts to disguise his true pursuit. Although Jed’s true purpose is to romantically pursue Joe, he uses his faith to disguise the true intent of his obsession. In a letter, Jed says “To bring you to God, through love. You’ll fight this like mad because you’re a long way from your own feeling? But I know that the Christ is within you. At some level you know it too.” The use of religious lexis such as “Christ” and “God” indicate how Jed not only has an obsession with Joe, but also with religion. He is so involved with both concepts that he believes it allows him to use his faith as an excuse to obsess over Joe in the way he does. However, his use of interrogative indicates how tentative he is in his pursuit as he perhaps doesn’t believe in his own intentions. However, unlike any other characters in the novels, his disorder means that this behaviour is uncontrollable; therefore he must disguise and manage it in any way he can.

Whereas it is clear that romantic love is pursued in both “Twelfth Night” and “Enduring Love”, whether or not this pursuit has the potential to become an obsession varies from the two novels. Jed in “Enduring Love” clearly shows evidence of obsession over Joe, however the existence of his disorder could imply that his pursuit for love is simply a way of feeding his obsession. On the other hand, Orsino in “Twelfth Night” demonstrates how he may be pursuing Olivia romantically, however the obsession that he experiences is more self-obsession. Both novels indicate that although romantic pursuit can often lead to obsession, there is a clear divide between the two.

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The Pursuit of Love in “Twelfth Night” and “Enduring Love”

May 31, 2019 by Essay Writer

In both “Twelfth Night” by William Shakespeare and “Enduring Love” by Ian McEwan, the pursuit of love is presented within the main characters. Their attempts to pursue a relationship could be seen as romantic and passionate; however, it could also be argued that the pursuits verge on being obsessive. In the case of “Twelfth Night”, it could be argued that obsession is simply a continuation of infatuation; something that expresses deep love and true emotion. However, in “Enduring Love”, the reader is introduced to obsessive love extremely early on, with the idea of romantic love being disregarded by the reader due to the unreliable narrator. There are arguments to suggest that pursuing romantic love and obsession are both similar and separate concepts.

In “Twelfth Night”, Orsino’s pursuit for Olivia is arguably more romantic than obsessive. His pursuit for romantic love is seen to be innocent and harmless, indicating that there is a clear divide between pursuit and obsession. When Curio asks ‘Will you go hunt my lord? The hart.” Orsino replies by saying “Why, so I do, the noblest I have.” The image of Orsino hunting deer juxtaposed with the image of Olivia implies that Orsino is attempting to portray an impression of masculinity and power by referring to the killing of animals, which was a feature of courtly love commonly practiced. As this form of pursuit was so prominent in Shakespeare’s era, it could be argued that Orsino was not in any way obsessive at this point. The pun in ‘The hart’ implies that Orsino is also attempting to bring comedy to the situation, which the audience watching the play would have found more humorous than obsessive. The concept of Courtly Love often includes males having to earn the love of a lady, which is clearly seen with Orsino’s romantic pursuit for Olivia as she “till seven years’ heat, Shall not behold her fact at ample view.”

Similarly, in “Enduring Love”, it could be argued that at some points, Jed Parry is attempting to pursue Joe romantically, with little evidence of obsession. In his first letter to Joe, Jed begins by saying “I feel happiness running through me like an electrical current.” Later, he says “Then I got it. You had touched them in a certain way, in a pattern that spelled a simple message. Did you really think I would miss it, Joe!” Jed using stereotypical and conventional love letter language such as abstract nouns, similes and metaphorical language to convey his adoration to Joe implies that Jed’s pursuit for love is innocent. The chapter being in the form of a love letter has implications that Jed is aware that his love for Joe is not reciprocal, therefore must resort from communicating from a distance. The use of direct address in “Did you really think I would miss it, Joe!” denotes how personal and deep rooted this romantic pursuit is. As “Enduring Love” is a postmodern novel with a metanarrative, the reader is made aware of the extent of Jed’s obsession, therefore they are unable to see the romantic and innocent nature of the letter. The reader’s perception of Jed is seen to be negative from the start of the novel, as the narrator is not only telling the story from hindsight, but also with the notion that it is a narrative in mind.

It could also be argued that there is a fine line between pursuit and obsession, and that obsessive love can be seen in both texts. In “Twelfth Night”, Viola’s drastic measures to be in close proximity to Orsino could be seen as an example of obsessive love. When Orsino asks Viola to charm Olivia on his behalf, Viola says “I’ll do my best to woo your lady. (Aside) Yet, a barful strife! Who’er I woo, myself would be his wife.” The use of aside to voice Viola’s inner thoughts is symbolic of how deceiving she is willing to be in order to pursue a romantic relationship with Orsino. The rhyming couplet of “strife” and “wife” is reflective of the end of a love sonnet, symbolising how Viola’s obsessive pursuit for Orsino is based around a romantic infatuation. The extent to which Viola is willing to change her identity to fit the expectations of a man she has just met demonstrates her obsession with Orsino. The idea of obsession is also explored in “Enduring Love”, as Jed suffers from de Clerambault’s syndrome. In a letter to Joe, Jed says “Joe, Joe, Joe….I’ll confess, I covered five sheets of paper with your name.” “Confess” has religious implications, with connotations of sin and wrong doing. This religious imagery juxtaposed next to “I covered five sheets of paper with your name” implies that although Jed believes his pursuit for romantic love with Joe is feasible, it is immoral. It could be argued that in Jed’s case, because of his condition, the pursuit for romantic love cannot happen without obsession being involved. Religious connotations can be found during the balloon accident when Jed asks Joe to pray with him. “Parry wasn’t giving up. He was still on his knees” could be seen as foreshadowing the nature of his romantic pursuit for Joe. Jed not letting go of the balloon, a symbol of chaos, reflects how he is unable to let go of his obsession with Joe. This image being so early on in the book implies that Jed’s pursuit for Joe was in fact, always obsessive.

In “Twelfth Night”, it can be suggested that Orsino has an obsession with the idea of love, which is far greater than his obsession with the woman he is attempting to pursue. When telling Viola what message to deliver to Olivia, he says “O, then unfold the passion of my love, Surprise her with discourse of my dear faith”. Orsino’s repetition of the personal pronoun ‘my’, as well as his use of empty adjectives such as ‘faith’ and ‘passion’ imply that he is more concerned with making himself look good than attempting to engage with Olivia. It could be suggested that Orsino’s constant pursuit of love has caused him to become self-obsessed, as well as forming an obsession with love itself. This is mirrored when he says “Away before me to sweet beds of flowers. Love thoughts life rich when canopied with bowers.” The rhyme in ‘flowers’ and ‘bowers’, reflective of a love sonnet, has implications of love and passion. However, ‘love thoughts lie rich’ implies that he is not thinking of Olivia, but simply love as a whole. In contrast, in “Enduring Love”, Jed’s obsession is purely based on an individual; however he attempts to disguise his true pursuit. Although Jed’s true purpose is to romantically pursue Joe, he uses his faith to disguise the true intent of his obsession. In a letter, Jed says “To bring you to God, through love. You’ll fight this like mad because you’re a long way from your own feeling? But I know that the Christ is within you. At some level you know it too.” The use of religious lexis such as “Christ” and “God” indicate how Jed not only has an obsession with Joe, but also with religion. He is so involved with both concepts that he believes it allows him to use his faith as an excuse to obsess over Joe in the way he does. However, his use of interrogative indicates how tentative he is in his pursuit as he perhaps doesn’t believe in his own intentions. However, unlike any other characters in the novels, his disorder means that this behaviour is uncontrollable; therefore he must disguise and manage it in any way he can.

Whereas it is clear that romantic love is pursued in both “Twelfth Night” and “Enduring Love”, whether or not this pursuit has the potential to become an obsession varies from the two novels. Jed in “Enduring Love” clearly shows evidence of obsession over Joe, however the existence of his disorder could imply that his pursuit for love is simply a way of feeding his obsession. On the other hand, Orsino in “Twelfth Night” demonstrates how he may be pursuing Olivia romantically, however the obsession that he experiences is more self-obsession. Both novels indicate that although romantic pursuit can often lead to obsession, there is a clear divide between the two.

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The Theme of Obsession in Enduring Love and The Collector

January 23, 2019 by Essay Writer

Both John Fowles in The Collector and Ian McEwan in Enduring Love use complex symbols and metaphors to expose the theme of obsession. In Enduring Love, the opening events and metaphor of the balloon act as a foreshadowing device for obsession. This is shown by John Logan’s laudable but obsessive refusal to let go of the rope which drags him further away from safe ground and the sanity that it represents. This idea is also analogous to all obsessive actions which unfold from this ‘pinprick on the time map’ such as Joe and Jed’s mutual obsession and Jean Logan’s obsession with her husband’s death. In Enduring Love, the symbol of balloon is an inanimate object whereas The Collector’s main symbol is the butterfly. In The Collector, this symbol is more of a recurrent motif and not something the reader can trace as the beginning of obsession. However, it still acts as the metaphor and pre-figurative device through which the reader can infer Miranda’s future including her capture and imprisonment. The visual aspect of the butterfly and the concept of pinning it down to spread its wings and then photograph it from every angle for “science” definitely finds shocking visual parallels in Clegg’s obsessive behaviour, ‘I took her till I had no more bulbs left.’The balloon of Enduring Love is also a striking visual metaphor which foreshadows uncontrollable obsession in the book. The author imbues it with a transcendental quality by relating it to the formation of the universe ‘the generation of multiplicity and variety of matter in the universe’ and cosmology. This scientific authorial voice characterises the novel’s narrator and suggests the grand implications of the balloon on the narrative. Rose describes this as ‘the colossus at the centre of the field that drew us in’. The exaggerated size suggests the author is going beyond the balloon as a physical object but more like a force of nature or scientific abstraction for obsession which seems to drag the men inexorably towards it. Similarly, the lexicon used by Fowles to describe butterfly catching, for example Clegg’s ‘entomological observations diary’ is akin to someone trying to emulate a scientific tone and this creates a similarly distinct narrative voice for Clegg and his related obsession. The ‘observations diary’ of Clegg also parallels the capture of butterflies and beautiful women as being of equal importance, dehumanizing Miranda and making his obsession easier to justify. Clegg freely admits that, ‘Seeing her always made me feel like I was catching a rarity,’ again juxtaposing Miranda and the butterflies. McEwan’s use of the balloon as a symbol begins a complex network of ambiguity. The reader is left unsure as to whether Logan’s hanging onto the rope is truly an obsessive action or one projected into that role by those who selfishly let go. Ironically, Joe’s seemingly rational action of dropping from the balloon sets in motion the events which lead to the central obsession. For the narrator, the balloon episode marks a ‘branching and subdivision’ opening up ‘pathways of love and hatred’ which are borne out through the novel. Therefore, in Enduring Love, the events surrounding the balloon act as the catalyst which opens ‘pathways’ for obsession to propagate. However in The Collector, the obsession has already begun. Instead, Fowles builds a slow awareness of Clegg’s danger and creates tension by his specific obsessive observations, ‘very pale, silky, like burnet cocoons’ with the simile again showing the concurrence between Miranda and the butterfly. The symbol of the butterfly juxtaposed with Miranda also explicates the novel’s title; he is not merely a collector of butterflies but a collector of people as well.The title of Enduring Love is not fully understood until far later in the novel. Instead there is a sense of the balloon being a transformational device for McEwan, ‘a kind of furnace’ out of which ‘identities and fates would buckle into new shapes’ facilitating the change from normality to obsession. The language of accurate scientific observation is again evident particularly the ‘mathematical grace’ of the situation suggesting the aforementioned fateful inevitability. Similarly, language usually used to describe butterflies in The Collector, ‘elusive and sporadic’ is instead attributed to Miranda. Clegg however, does not realise that the beauty of the butterfly is in the delicate movements of flight when it is truly ‘elusive’ not when captured and “scientifically” scrutinized (similar to the paradox of Art and Photography). Fowles creates a dichotomy by juxtaposing Clegg’s dull personality with the spontaneity of the butterfly (Miranda) which represents the balance of their personalities. This juxtaposition also represents the other paradoxes of obsession within the novel including art and science, dangerous and normal obsession, and even the opposition of class.However, before such an exploration, one must first trace the growth and beginning of obsession. The opening of Enduring Love including the metaphor of the balloon is formative in the creation of obsession. McEwan acknowledges this, distinguishing between the ‘large-scale events’ of the balloon and the ‘subtler elements’ such as Rose’s first encounter with Jed Parry; A seemingly innocuous moment of sustained eye contact, ‘(his) clear blue-grey eyes held mine’. McEwan’s retrospective eye intimates that this is the absolute specific moment in which the obsession begins because beyond this ‘every gesture, every word’ is ‘gathered and piled, fuel for the long winter of his obsession.’ McEwan is ambiguous as to why this specific moment begins Jed’s obsession though it is implied to be a combination of shock from the accident and loneliness. In contrast, Fowles presents Clegg’s obsession as born out of a lack of education and the obsessive inadequacy with his background, ‘(everybody) seemed to look down on us’. Interestingly, both the central obsessive characters’ parents are “absent” meaning that their obsessive actions are largely unregulated, including those taken by Clegg corresponding to his growing obsession, ‘I used to see her…I stood right behind her…watch(ed) her for thirty five minutes.’ These accurate and specific observations characterise most of the first chapter and the detail with which Fowles describes the events, ‘she sat three seats down and sideways to me’ points to Clegg’s potential dangerousness. A sense of dramatic tension is created because the reader is left unsure as to how Clegg will “consummate” his obsession. In fact, both authors use structural devices to contrive that their protagonists come into large sums of money, Clegg from ‘the pools’ and Jed from his inheritance, giving the characters the means to pursue their obsessions unencumbered by the need to work, and thus money. Parry’s obsession is presented by McEwan in the context of his religious beliefs, ‘god has brought us together in this tragedy’ and contact with Joe provides fuel both for Parry’s obsessive love but also his need to “convert” Joe. Parry’s obsessive religious fanaticism is evident referring to himself as a ‘messenger’ and God’s word as ‘a gift’. This early encounter sets the tone for the rest of the novel in which Parry uses religion and denial to create an imaginary obsessive world. His obsession is hard to classify and clearly not conventional love. Joe in a typical scientific fashion labels it ‘de Clerambault syndrome’ as if by classification the condition suddenly becomes explicable. Fowles on the other hand, doesn’t classify Clegg’s condition but leaves the reader to make inference from the text as to his clearly disturbed mental state. This is achieved by the unreliable narrator used by Fowles creating ambiguity as to the true nature of his obsession. Like Parry one suspects his perception of the world is delusional and stilted, ‘if more people were like me… the world would be better’ though it unclear whether this is a self imposed delusion. Clegg attempts, early on, to suggest his intentions towards Miranda ‘were of the best’ but despite this, later in the novel, his feelings towards her are clearly of a sexual nature, ‘the photographs…I could take my time with them.’ Furthermore, his obsessive infatuation seems to be born solely from her physical appearance, ‘so beautiful’ and his idealistic vision of her, ‘like a mermaid’.From this conclusion stems one of the main differences in the authors’ presentation of obsession. Clegg is obsessed with physically controlling Miranda, both in a sexual sense but also as a ‘Collector’ whereas Jed’s obsession is with winning over Joe’s mind to God and platonic love. In this way, the presentation of obsession is inverted by both authors; Joe is physically free in the outside world, ‘Our prison grew larger’ but captured in his mind, ‘my mental state was very frail’. On the other hand, Miranda is confined and controlled ‘in this little small room’ and yet finds solace in her imagination, ‘I wrote myself into another world’ and is able to transcend her physical capture. It would seem therefore that the author’s construction of primary obsession is used to create an obsessive counter-reaction from the victims. In Enduring Love, Joe becomes equally obsessed with Jed and McEwan uses the technique of the unreliable narrator and similarities between the two to make their relationship still more ambiguous. The similarity of their names suggests a wilful comparison by McEwan as if under slightly different circumstances they might occupy similar roles. This parallel of Joe and Parry, insinuated by McEwan, is encapsulated when Clarissa remarks ‘His writing’s rather like yours’ reinforcing the ambiguity as to whether Jed is even real. Joe’s seemingly irrational response to someone who ostensibly appears harmless (or otherwise absent) makes the reader question who is the true dangerous obsessive. McEwan develops this further through multiple perspectives, first from Clarissa, ‘the Parry described by Joe, does not exist’ and then from Inspector Linley (whose ‘globular face’ has echoes of the balloon) ‘as Stalker’s go he’s a pussycat’ to cast doubt upon Joe’s obsessive assertions. Essentially, Joe’s obsession forces him to reciprocate Jed’s attention which, in turn, fuels the obsession Jed feels.In contrast, Clegg’s obsession causes Miranda to be driven further away from him. Fowles uses Miranda’s obsession with GP (the antithesis of Clegg) to add to the narrative richness of the text and interestingly we can see the progression of her thought process up to the epiphany, ‘I’ll marry him.’ The contrast of normal love (a form of healthy obsession) and Clegg’s possessive and repressed sexual feelings are juxtaposed by Fowles. Interestingly, the polarity established through the juxtaposition of these two extremes show Clegg’s obsessive ‘love’ for what it truly is. Miranda’s captivity and love for GP also lead her towards a more understandable obsession: escape. Her willingness to do ‘anything’ to achieve freedom, ‘she did some things which I won’t say’ reflects upon the zeitgeist of sexual liberation synonymous with the 60s but also contrasts with Clegg’s sexually repressed emasculation. From a structural perspective, Miranda’s sexual advances break the equilibrium of obsessions between the two characters. She rejects Clegg’s obsessive behaviour and seeks to act positively against it. However instead, her actions highlight his sexual ineptitude and drive them ‘further apart than ever’. Similarly, McEwan marks his protagonist’s purging of obsession through the somewhat crude and visceral metaphor of excretion. Unlike Miranda’s epiphany of love forcing her to take positive action, Joe’s is one set against a realisation that humans are detached from the ‘grand cycles’ of nature and human existence is insignificant compared with every other organism and process upon which it depends. This reflection, essentially from McEwan, highlights how solipsistic and ego-centric obsessive behaviour truly is and leads to Joe buying a gun, thus breaking obsession between them.Structurally, these events also cause an imbalance leading to the inevitable climax of obsession. In The Collector, this is shown by Clegg’s statement, ‘I had enough…I went and pulled the bed clothes off her’ revealing his true obsessive behaviour. Miranda’s earlier attempts to fulfil Clegg’s sexual obsession are used to justify his subsequent treatment of her, ‘All I did later was because of that night.’ Miranda’s eventual demise and Clegg choosing his next target, ‘Marian’ reveals his specific obsession for Miranda is destroyed but his obsessive personality remains. In Enduring Love, the obsessive love also (somewhat unsurprisingly) endures and is expressed in the appendix, ‘P writes daily to R’. Interestingly, despite the climactic confrontations, both authors ensure that the abnormal obsessive behaviour endures.Set against these principal obsessions is a rich tapestry of secondary obsessions shown in the various sub-plots and extensive allusions to Shakespeare. The faint parallel of the Tempest is used ironically by Fowles and is shown in Clegg’s delusion in re-naming himself ‘Ferdinand’ reflecting his idealistic view of the obsession. However, this is subverted by Miranda who sees through his façade and aptly calls him ‘Caliban’ instead, creating a parallel of Clegg’s delusion of who he wants to be, against who he really is. The fact that Caliban famously attempts to rape Miranda in ‘the Tempest’ also foreshadows Clegg’s own sexual obsession. Interestingly, the novel’s parallel to the Tempest is not fully borne out by the book. Miranda is not the idealistic and submissive woman appearances suggest, but strong, independent and drawn to someone who shares her obsessions: GP. Ironically, he is a Caliban of sorts in his vulgarity and hedonism. Similarly, in Enduring Love, McEwan alludes to Othello in Joe’s suspicion that Clarissa is having an affair with ‘Some hot little bearded fuck-goat’ though the story’s Iago is, unusually, Joe’s obsessive and irrational mindset. Jean Logan’s obsession with her husband’s fidelity is a further example of every obsession emanating from the balloon and GP’s obsession with living as a ‘truthful’ artist (shown by his manifesto) creates a rich textural backdrop of obsessive behaviour.In a way, every character is identifiable by the obsessive stereotype which they maintain. Clarissa’s interest in John Keats represents an artistic obsession in Enduring Love through the manner in which she draws inference from his letters. Yet ironically, when it comes to the letters of Jed she is unable to see his potential danger. Similarly, Joe’s character is the epitome of science within the novel and this is shown in his scientific tangents ‘Elkman’s celebrated cross cultural study’ but also the way he recounts every detail of the balloon incident. As such, one would expect him to maintain the same cold rational logic in the face of Jed’s obsession, though he quickly becomes paranoid. In this way, we can see the manner in which McEwan creates three dimensional characters by subverting stereotypes through obsession. Similarly, Fowles presents Clegg, ostensibly, as a man of science yet this guise is subverted through Clegg’s justification of his obsessive behaviour. For him, the capture of butterflies is, in fact, an obsessive and empowering pursuit not a scientific one. This is reinforced in the language spoken of his new target at the end, ‘for the interest….and to compare’ where the guise of a ‘scientific’ experiment somehow justifies kidnap. Therefore, whilst in Enduring Love, McEwan presents the opposition of Art and Science as part of the ‘equilibrium’ between Clarissa and Joe, Fowles shows that love can never foster in an abnormal obsessive and pseudo-scientific context. This though, is only truly realised when the authors introduce the third protagonist, Jed and GP, and their obsessions (religion and art) alter the balance of obsession within the novels.This three way structure is alluded to in Joe’s epiphany where he discusses the river ‘two atoms of hydrogen, one oxygen bound together by a mysterious force’ which parallels the obsessive network between Jed, Joe and Clarissa. McEwan places this petty human struggle of obsession in the context of ‘billions, trillions, of them’, suggesting the vast nature of obsession. Despite the continuation of his scientific thinking, Joe is able to disengage with his over-rationalising mind and play with the children. Furthermore, the co-operative attitude between him and them as they face ‘the slow brown expanse of water’ is one fatally ‘absent’ from the initial balloon incident and also Joe and Clarissa’s earlier attempts to resolve obsession within the novel.Similarly, Jed watching the ‘sun’ coming up and turning the trees ‘black’ strongly recalls the rising balloon suggesting the cyclical and eternal nature of obsession. Jed’s obsession, like the sun and the balloon, is one destined to continue and transcends everything. He feels the sunlight is the enduring love of God and Joe, who as a confessional figure has almost been elevated to the status of such a deity. Interestingly this creates a counterpoint with The Collector. Miranda’s death and the discovery of her diary, prove to Clegg that she was not the idealised woman he thought her to be. The loss of her dignity, her burial and his subsequent disregard, relegate her to the status of previous lesser obsessions proving that, obsessive love is not always the love which endures. Bibliography1.Fowles, John; The Collector, Vintage Classics, London, 19632.McEwan, Ian; Enduring Love, Vintage, London, 1997

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