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

Use Of Recurring Motifs In "Spies" By Michael Frayn

Extracts from this document...


Discuss Frayn's use of recurring motifs in the novel "Spies" Motifs are Frayn's vehicles to help him discuss otherwise difficult messages. Throughout the book Frayn refers to objects that to the naked eye seem ordinary. Examples of these are the Privet, the Bayonet, and the Germs; these are the 3 major motifs that are referred to constantly in the book. All these are motifs that are vehicles in delivering a bigger message to the reader. The Privet, the focal point of the entire novel conveying within it are messages of adulthood, humour and childhood. The Bayonet, once again plays a core role in the novel, making reoccurring appearances highlighting the importance and great respect Stephen has for Keith's family and friendship. The Germs, less important but nonetheless still mentioned numerous times, refers to Stephens's inner self and subconscious mind that refuses to adapt and mature. We are first introduced to the Privet right at the start of the book. It triggers Stephen's memory and consequently the start of the entire story. ...read more.


The Privet is used as a motif for yet another theme, growing up. When Barbara Berill is in the privet with Stephen, they being to discuss Keith's misspelling of the word and Stephens slow realisation that Keith is in fact wrong and not always right, this symbolizes a flame of maturity that was sparked by the topic of the "Privet". This idea of 'growing up' is not only limited to the "Privet" but also to the "bayonet". This again involves the intervention of Barbara Berill to make things apparent to Stephen, when she rightfully says that the bayonet "looks more like a carving knife", in which makes Stephen surrender to his urges to conform to Keith's childlike ideas and thus contributing to his 'maturity'. The bayonet is introduced to us as the "most secret and sacred possession... which killed 5 Germans", this is a very interesting introduction to the item, Frayn uses alliteration "secret and sacred" to draw emphasis on the great deal of importance this item has on both Stephen and Keith. ...read more.


This idea of the germs being Stephen's barrier to adulthood is reinforced when he sees Keith's mum fall into the germs. It is the first time Stephen seems an adult in such a vulnerable position, which frightens him. Consequently, having stumbled upon this theme, it becomes apparent that Frayn was in fact attempting to highlight it using other motifs. For example, when Stephen was in Aunt Dee's house and saw the photographs of Keith's mum and Aunt Dee together. Not only was it the moment that Stephen began to mature but also the moment where he realised that adults are in fact the same 'species' as children and can in fact be hurt. Other minor motifs include the tunnel which again depicts the idea of Stephen's passage to the outer and bigger world in which will help him mature and grow up, and one which he does not dare to enter. The cigarettes are again a metaphor for Stephen's journey into adulthood. One may even say the entire close is a representation of the entire world and the idea that nothing is what it seems but in fact has deep "metaphysical complexity". ...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. How Effectively Does Frayn Use Barbara Berrill in 'Spies'?

    Frayn ensures that Stephen's knowledge of anything in the region of sexuality and females is very limited at the beginning of the book, believing that all girls are 'sly and treacherous' and that what his brother Geoff does with Deidre is 'too hell's own shameful to bring up, even in an argument'.

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

    He goes out at night to make one "heroic deed" which will cause all his "weaknesses and errors" to be "wiped away. A similar relationship exists in Litt's deadkidsongs; Andrew's psychopathic agenda draws the rest of "gang" into criminal activities.

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

    his thoughts are entirely focused on spying, and Frayn references this twisted perception by also using "gloaming", a synonym for dusk, when the light is not present, metaphorical to the way Stephen's eventual enlightenment is clouded by his his pre-adolescent mental functioning.

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

    This is effective because it allows the reader to see how Stephen really thinks and how he judges people, an important aspect in constructing an opinion of how we feel about him.

  1. Analyse the ways in which Frayn presents the relationship between Stephen and Keith in ...

    Not only does he now talk on a frequent basis to Barbara Berrill, but he sees less of Keith. He can see a "looming ... catastrophe", and it is hinted that their relationship may be coming to an end. All their recent meetings have been tense; if their relationship was

  2. Spies. How does Frayn display Stephen and Keiths relationship at the start of ...

    Yet another important detail mentioned in those two paragraphs is "The picture is no longer monochrome." This small sentence can be seen as one of the most important due to its relevance of Stephen and Keith's relationship. The idea that Stephen's memory only bursts into colour when he sees Keith

  1. "Spies" By Michael Frayn - What is the function of the photographs in chapter ...

    The photographs also act as a contrast to the mysterious adult life that Mrs Hayward apparently leads. The first photo that Stephen looks as suggests a sense of innocence in Mrs Hayward as she is described to be wearing "long white gloves that cover her bare arms up and a wide brimmed summer hat several sizes too big for her".

  2. With detailed reference to at least 3 symbols explore how Frayn employs symbolism in ...

    Frayn uses the boy's naivety well to portray the use of x in different ways. The x comes back in yet another form when Frayn uses it more subtly as a kiss 'She's bending over him to kiss him goodnight, her brown eyes shining, her lips pursed into an X...'

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