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Analyse Faulks presentation of Stephens mental state in Part One of Birdsong. Explain how this influences your understanding of the rest of the novel.

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Introduction

Analyse Faulks' presentation of Stephen's mental state in Part One of Birdsong. Explain how this influences your understanding of the rest of the novel. Sebastian Faulks presents Stephen Wraysford's mental state in a variety of different ways, these different notions to Stephen's psyche in part one of the novel gives the reader a deeper understanding of his character later in the novel and how his mental state changes. Stephen is an visitor from England that has been sent to France to gather information on the textile industry in France. He speaks fluent French and is very well mannered (as most British men in that era) and this is shown throughout the start of the novel. Stephen shows these polite manners as he first greets the family in a very formal way. "He took her hand and bowed his head briefly". The first character we are introduced to is Stephen and within the first chapter it is plain to see that he has a clear definition of what is right and wrong which gives of the idea that he is strong-minded and if challenged on something he believed to be right then he would fight for what he believed in indomitably. ...read more.

Middle

As the affair continues through part one Isabelle and Stephen's physical and intense relationship starts to develop in a more emotional sense, Isabelle seems to become more and more vulnerable, "there was too much danger in her feeling" and stephen becomes gradually more courageous and bold, "he seemed sure of what was right". Madame Azaire then starts to share her emotions with Stephen and she starts to trust in him, for example "She felt she might avoid the fallibility of her own judgement by depending on his" and this is all in the gradual climax where Isabelle tells Azaire she has betrayed him and that she was having the affair, "It was me", after this revelation Rene Azaire turns unbelievingly towards Stephen, stephen now makes the psychological choice to protect his lover, "you must hate me not her" this is a vital change in Stephen's mental state because before he met the Azaire's he was a solitary and introverted young man but this is almost him fully entering manhood by taking the responsibility for the one that he loves, "he hardened his heart". As Stephen and Isabelle start to travel away together, Stephen is in a state of pure elation, "there was the deeper happiness of being with this woman", however Madame Azaire had taken the leaving of her family ...read more.

Conclusion

The end of Part One consists of isabelle leaving stephen because of her pregnancy and therefore Stephen is left distraught and alone. Stephen seems to be in shock of her departure and therefore goes to work as usual and carries on as if nothing has happened, "showed no sign that anything had changed", he does this because he sub-consciously cant accept that the love of his life has left him, he cant face the reality of his desperately sad situation. When he came home he drank to excess to try and drink away the horrors and sadness of his situation, he is mentally devastated and the only thing he can do is let "himself grow cold.". This mortifying and overwhelming event is what caused Stephen to join the army and fight in the war, this furthermore gives us a more in depth understanding of the way stephen acts in the war to possible friends and the way he treats himself. Faulk's presents Stephen's mental state in a variety of different ways, he goes from being in a blissful state of mind to being in a state of turmoil and Faulks presents these psychological states perfectly so that we as readers grow along emotionally with Stephen, feel joy with stephen but most of all empathise with his pain and desolation. Alex Monro-Pruett ...read more.

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