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Describe How Frayn Presents Women In Spies

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Describe how Frayn presents women in the text Those women who feature in Michael Frayn's 'Spies' are predominately presented to us through the eyes of the adolescent protagonist; Stephen, whose conflicting feelings relating to them are representative of his evolving maturity. His confusion is intensified by the fact that the women he encounters throughout the novel do not wholly conform to the social expectations one might assume of a 1940s wartime setting. We might also suppose that some degree of his ignorance toward the opposite sex is due to the lack of presence or least; acknowledgement, of his own mother whom he describes as 'so hopelessly ordinary'. Stefan ponders whether Stephen's dismissal of his own mother explains or even excuses his burgeoning adoration of Mrs Hayward, 'would he have perceived the grace and sincerity of Keith's mother quite so clearly if his own hadn't spent most of the day in a faded apron, sighing and anxious...?' Whilst it is clear from his initial references to the Hayward's that he considers them to be the quintessential family type, it is Mrs Hayward to whom he pays particular attention, his respectful appreciation soon developing into a lustful fixation. ...read more.


And for all such features to be absorbed and admired within what should have been a 'privet' male dominated area; that is the secret den belonging to Stephen and Keith, proves to be somewhat ironic. The theme of power which Frayn explores through his presentation of women interestingly entwines with that of opposites as we discover their ability to exhibit authority and weakness almost hand in hand. We witness Barbara Berrill demonstrating her superiority in terms of knowledge 'You mean you don't know what privet is?' sexuality; 'Didn't you know about people having boyfriends and girlfriends?' and even physical power as she pushes Stephen over. Similarly Mrs Hayward reveals her persuasiveness 'now you're alone... I want to ask you to do something for me.', an authority, which is implicit yet patent to Stephen, 'I don't want to have to sop him seeing you,' and of course her sexual prowess as discussed earlier. And yet we are equally drawn to their weaknesses which are so openly portrayed to the reader, Barbara Berill being threatened by her mother if she is 'not home in one minute precisely ... ...read more.


longings and sandnesses and undefined hopes.' 'It has a name, this sweet disturbance. Its name is Lamorna'. We feel almost that 'Lamorna' holds the key to Stephen's sexual awakening, his transition from childhood to adulthood. Whilst 'Lamorna' is the name of Barbara Berrill's house, the connotations it holds for Stephen would seem to be endless, it is 'the softness of Barbara Berrill's dress...the contrast between the bobbly texture of her purse and the smooth shininess of its button...the indoor-firework smell of the match..' 'But Lamorna is also the name of the softness in Keith's mother's voice..' Interestingly he exclaims: 'There's just a little terror of the Lanes in it, too..' His apparent fixation with this word and its ability to summarise everything he does and does not understand about women and sex is both humorous and sentimental. It serves as an extremely successful technique employed by Frayn to aid the reader in identifying with the mysterious and enticing world of women as seen through the eyes of a small boy, Stephen. ?? ?? ?? ?? Gemma Schuck AS English Literature Spies - Assignment Two ...read more.

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