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The extract that follows comes from a novel. Examine how the writer conveys the experience of falling and the ways in which this experience is expanded and reflected upon. How effective do you find this description?

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Introduction

The extract that follows comes from a novel. Examine how the writer conveys the experience of falling and the ways in which this experience is expanded and reflected upon. How effective do you find this description? This extract from Iris Murdoch's 'The Sea, The Sea,' is fairly fatalistic on looking at it for the first glance. The controlling forces of both his mind (the narrators), his body and the sea are sprinkled throughout the passage, and it demonstrates to us the drowning embrace of the sea. In some ways, this passage implies that Murdoch was inspired by Shakespeare's 'The Tempest' and echoes Prospero's attempts to transform magic into spirit. Perhaps there is even a hint of the Keatsian quality of the ability to convey senses onto the page. Murdoch's passage has a kind of appeal to the senses, such as 'Then I was in the water whose intense cold surprised me with a separate shock,' and, 'I felt as if my neck was breaking.' ...read more.

Middle

The longevity of the sentences perhaps signifies the length of time in which he falls, as if the period of falling is slowly drawn out. Just as one says that before one dies, 'Life flashes before one's eyes,' the subject feels as though the time between which he is pushed and when he touches water is almost infinite, 'How long, how infinitely expansible.' The subject also evidently felt the fear of death, 'a second is when it contains this thought, which is an effigy of death.' The inclusion of a quote in the eighth line of the passage, 'There is nothing more I can do,' comes quite suddenly. It gently and subtly breaks up the intensity of the text, while turning into more of a philosophical and theoretical piece of writing. Murdoch uses imagery to depict a false sense of presence for the reader, such as 'the enmity of matter is unleashed against the frail, breakable, crushable animal form...'The human body is viewed as an easily damageable animal. ...read more.

Conclusion

Murdoch makes out to the reader that the shock of hitting the water has made her feel almost as if she's in another world, 'a dome of dark faintly translucent green, the waves above me.' According to the narrator, his body is now 'flailing senselessly in a maelstrom of powers which seemed to dismember me.' The use in this context of 'maelstrom' is a metaphor, as not only is his body a tangled mess, as is his power to control it, but so too is the literal sense of his mind being 'tangled' and confused. The suddenness of the final sentence demonstrates the unexpectedness of the head hitting the rock, and 'struck violently against the smooth rock' is almost oxy-moronic with the violence of a smooth rock, and a rock seen as a jutting, sharp form against the word smooth. The description Iris Murdoch depicts of falling is powerful and effective as it takes the reader into the depths of both the fallers mind and the physical concept of the fear of falling. She has drawn the reader into the realms of someone else's thoughts and feelings. Alex Corbet-Milward XX Ms Scanlon ...read more.

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