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A Question of Attribution

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A Question of Attribution Discuss how Alan Bennett uses art as a metaphor in Blunt's conversations with Chubb and the Queen. During the play "A Question of Attribution", written in the late 1960's, Alan Bennett uses the highly sophisticated technique of an extended metaphor throughout the entire play which makes the meaning of the play seem more powerful. Bennet uses art to convey Blunt's deceiving life as a spy for the KGB where he leaked important British intelligence to the Russians. Out of all the paintings I believe Bennett chose the Triple Portrait and An Allegory of Prudence because they piece together extremely well with Blunt's life. The Triple Portrait has an element of secrecy surrounding it; like Blunt's life. The portrait shows two men when it was first produced and prior to it being tampered with. However after the portrait was cleaned it distinctively shows an extra third man. This is a high resemblance coinciding with Blunt's life; the painting shows an unexpected side and so does Blunt's life with his normal job as a standard art historian and then the disclosed life as the spy. Therefore the link between the two is that they both were seen to be simple but were eventually discovered to have a secret. This is not the only metaphor the painting plays during the course of the play either. ...read more.


The handkerchief is bad enough in itself but when he starts "wiping his hands on his handkerchief" it shows he is getting sweaty palms from talking to the queen after what he has done to his and her country. Again art is used though as he talks to the queen about it almost so that he doesn't get any personal questions:" Portrait painters tend to regard faces as not very still lives". I feel he uses it as a barrier to protect himself from the fact that the queen could ask him questions on the topic of his love for the nation or in general about England which would mean Blunt would have to lie to the queen to hide his identity as a spy. During Blunt's conversations artwork is frequently used as a metaphorical description of Blunt's secret life; "A great painting will still elude us, as art will always elude exposition". This quotation shows a hidden double-ententre as it references to Blunt thinking that he is like a "great painting" because he believes that he will not get caught and that he could "still elude" the police by remaining free man. However it was foolish for Blunt to think this as he was caught just Han Van Meegeren who attempted to forge Vermeer. He was only discovered after a long period of time which is ludicrously symbolic to the events of Blunts secret life involving the Russians. ...read more.


The lion therefore stuck in the middle because the dog is not strong enough to protect his future from the lies. As the play draws to a close Blunt gets exceedingly closer to becoming exposed as the traitor he is until he is finally revealed as a spy. Moments prior to the curtains drawing to a close "Chubb and Blunt sit spotlight for a moment, looking at each other, before the lights fade". As the lights fade it shows the blatant representation of Blunt's life fading away; his title of "Sir Anthony Blunt", his job and his privacy. Therefore, as the light dies, Blunt dies. This also relates back to art once again due to his love of art dying as he does because he will never be able to analyse or study art; he will be in prison for the rest of his life. As it turned out though, the end of his life was sooner than most though it would be as he died two years after being sentenced in 1983. In conclusion as you watch this play it's plain to see that this play isn't an average straight forward play. It is quite the opposite; the play is not only an extended metaphor, but an extended metaphor with an abundance of almost miniature metaphors within the entire play resulting in an intellectual play where the audience are constantly involved in the piecing together of the plot. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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