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A Critical Appreciation on Chapter 12 of Ian McEwan's 'Enduring Love'.

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Introduction

Joe Griffiths A Critical Appreciation on Chapter 12 of Ian McEwan's 'Enduring Love' This chapter is a crucial point in the book and marks a major turning point of the protagonist's life. In this essay I will discuss McEwan's use of structure, plot, themes, language and characterization. In this chapter the structure is relatively simple, yet effective, as it is written in the past tense; it allows for Joe to add his retrospective opinion. Opening with Joe driving down the motorway, describing his negative frame of mind, he tells the reader of what he did earlier that morning that has left him with his "old restlessness" feeling, and then once returns to Joe's present time, as he arrives at Mrs Logan's House. The plot progresses due to the consequences of Joe's actions. Joe has searched Clarissa's letters, persuading himself to believe that somebody is making Clarissa have a biased view of Joe's situation with Jed Parry. We are told of "the fine crack estrangement that had appeared between Clarissa and me". This has left McEwan with an area to develop the plot. ...read more.

Middle

Joe describes feeling as though "there remained an unarticulated dispute" between himself and Clarissa. From an objective view it appears that neither Clarissa nor Joe are communicating properly. Indeed, Joe realizes himself that they are "losing the trick of keeping it going". Perhaps these references to Joe's unhappiness reflect the new direction their relationship is taking. Joe is under the impression that "Clarissa considered Parry my fault". This shows that Clarissa and Joe no longer have faith in each other. McEwan uses questions to show Joe's doubt. "What was the explanation? Was she beginning to regret her life with me? Could she have met someone?" In a relationship built on trust these are not the sorts of questions that partners should think about. Joe, in his suspicious state of mind, goes and searches Clarissa's desk. He sees it as a "painful necessity" and describes it as being "coarsening". Joe is invading Clarissa's private and personal space. Perhaps this is the mark of the relationship, where Joe's trust has finally worn so thin that he needs to justify himself. He describes his actions as an "attack on Clarissa's privacy". Once again McEwan uses emotive language. ...read more.

Conclusion

Immediately after the incident, Joe describes "a parallel development, the death of an innocent dream" The 'death of an innocent dream' is perhaps symbolic as the death of Joe and Clarissa's relationship. This chapter has very few revelations about characters, except perhaps the change of Joe from being a rationalist to being an unstable wreck. We also learn that Clarissa has no secret correspondence as Joe suspected. Another very small revelation is about Jed's character: we are told that in the space of a week, he has already sent more than one letter. " A couple of days after Parry's letter arrived, his first letter that is". This shows us about the persistence of Jed. In my opinion this chapter is a build-up for a major stage in the plot. It represents the starting point in the break down of Joe and Clarissa's relationship. On top of that, the arrival of Joe at Mrs Logan's house will undoubtedly have some consequence in the plot. Once again McEwan uses vivid descriptions to captivate and ensnare the reader while giving us insights into Joe's state of mind. ...read more.

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