• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How Effectively Does Frayn Use Barbara Berrill in 'Spies'?

Extracts from this document...


How Effectively Does Frayn Use Barbara Berrill in 'Spies'? Michael Frayn uses the character of Barbara Berrill to a variety of purposes in the book 'Spies'. She is one of the key features to the themes of growing up and awakening views on adulthood and sexuality as well as providing Stephen with new evidence and theories as to what is going on, allowing us to see him interact with someone quite different from Keith, giving us perhaps a less biased and general view of occurrences in the close and also providing the book with some humour due to her blunt and matter-of-fact way of putting things and the way in which she acts as almost a bridge between the reader and Stephen, asking him the questions that perhaps we are asking ourselves. The obvious purpose of Barbara Berrill does seem to be her involvement in Stephen's blossoming understanding of the adult world. Being a year older than him, she is a little more perceptive of the things which haven't even really crossed Stephen's mind before, such as the possibility of parents having boyfriends and girlfriends. This is a good example of a time where Barbara clearly passes on some new ideas to Stephen, as although he is confused at first, the idea sticks with him throughout the book as he slowly begins to realise that Barbara is right. "'She's taking a message to Mrs. Tracey's boyfriend' Now I do turn to look at her, too uncomprehending to conceal it. ...read more.


I think again Frayn uses this to really push forward the fact that this sexual awakening and maturing which Stephen is going through is allowing him to see things a lot more clearly, for example saying "I see all kinds of things I never saw before, everywhere I look, now that the lamorna's in the air." I think that this is effective because Frayn uses the phrase "the lamorna's in the air" as if Lamorna is a scent, similar to the ideas of privet and other plant related senses which he references many times. The idea that all these feelings which Stephen is beginning to discover, very much triggered by Barbara Berrill and the name of her house, are all around him is very noteworthy, as it is something which he cannot escape from and from what we know already we can tell that the way in which the plants smell and look is significant to the way in which Stephen's feeling change. I think Lamorna, being associated with Barbara Berrill and her house, is likely to represent the scent of wild roses and all things 'girlish', and the fact that this is all around Stephen and "in the air" suggests that it is not something which he can hide from any more and therefore this is another way of showing how Barbara increases his awareness of the world. This can similarly be seen in the fact that he claims "I've found a value for X" when Barbara kisses him. ...read more.


I think that Frayn's use of Barbara as this kind of 'voice' for the reader makes a nice addition to the book as without these types of blunt observations and questions being posed to Stephen it would be easily possible for the reader to get frustrated and want their own questions answered. Using Barbara for this purpose was also a good idea as she gets straight to the point, and leaves Stephen wondering over what she says just enough to question what he thought before without giving the game away too quickly. Overall, I think that Frayn uses the character of Barbara Berrill in 'Spies' very effectively, for a lot of different purposes. Clearly she is a very active and important part in Stephen's growing up, from the exciting parts such as the rite of passage rituals of smoking and kissing, to the more mundane things which she is able to quite bluntly point out to Stephen and leave him thinking about. However she also plays many other smaller parts, perhaps to a lesser extent, such as her addition to the humour of the book, providing a welcome break and fresh view from the rest of what we hear, and also the way in which the reader can associate with what she says and use these meetings Stephen has with her to gain clues and interesting information about what is really going on in the close. Barbara is effective as a character in these ways and many more, both with her effect on Stephen and her influences on the general tone of the book. ?? ?? ?? ?? Harriet Blair 12 EM ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Other Authors section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Other Authors essays

  1. Examine the presentation of the relationship between Keith and Stephen in Spies

    Stephen's own house has "scuffed armchairs" and a boring "savannah" of a garden. They attend separate schools and wear different uniforms, Stephen remarks that they are "colour coded for ease of reference". Stephen acutely feels the social divide between the two families and feels a sense of "good fortune" in being associated with such a family of "heroic proportions".

  2. How does Michael Frayn present the relationship between Stephen Wheatley and Keith Hayward?

    After that point the boys drifted apart. The games that the boys played before spying on Keith's mother were not serious. They knew that it will end, for example the mystery about Mr Gort. Keith and Stephen thought he was a murderer and they did take it seriously enough to

  1. What do you find noteworthy about the narrative voice in Spies?

    We see further examples, such as 'there's something not quite right about him' and 'tell him to wake up and stop being so...unsatisfactory'. Here, the narrator is deliberately distancing himself from the younger Stephen perhaps implying that he is no longer that 'unsatisfactory' child and that he is not even Stephen Wheatley any more.

  2. How does Frayn present young Stephen in the first three chapters of "Spies"? How ...

    Although this shows clearly to the reader just how many times Stephen has been into Keith's house, I believe that it also shows just how in awe Stephen is of everything he owns and the finer things in his house.

  1. Spies by Michael Frayn. How does Frayn show Stephen's mental progression from childhood ...

    examples the bond that formed between Stephen and Mrs. Hayward, and the resulting feeling of failure evident by the downtrodden and dramatic tone of the delivery of the sentence, thus the extent at which Stephen is able to feel empathy, an advanced emotion that evidences his maturity.


    Although it is mostly Steven's imagination causing us distress, and nothing has really happened to warrant any badness yet. Frayn mostly suggests possible outcomes, which draws us into the plot deeper. When Steven describes " the agonising electric cold-ness passing through" his back we jump to the notion of some

  1. Use Of Recurring Motifs In "Spies" By Michael Frayn

    Stephen's great appreciation of it, and perhaps highlighting Stephens ignorance since it was only a "carving knife" used as a replica for the real one. The "bayonet" seems to stand for a variety of ideas and themes. One may say that the "bayonet" is a metaphor for Keith and Stephens relationship.

  2. Spies. Describe the means Frayn uses to tell Stephen's story

    Even the translation of the plant has sexual undertones 'privet' often confused with ?private?.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work