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Consider the presentation of Clarissa in the novel 'Enduring Love' by Ian McEwan

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Introduction

Practice exam question Louise Renwick * Consider the presentation of Clarissa in the novel. In the novel 'Enduring Love' Clarissa is presented as a separate and almost removed character. This is emphasised from our very first introduction to her when subconsciously we compare her to the other witnesses of the balloon accident. She becomes a contrast to them, not only by the way in which she chooses to remain an observer of the accident but also the way her name differs from the other characters. They have very similar sounding names, Joe, Jed, Jean, John and later, Johnny. McEwan describes her as being 'unencumbered by participation' thus she is presented as an objective observer of the accident as apposed to the remaining five characters who appear 'bound' to the accident. Her character is also presented as a form of constant throughout the novel whereupon she does not change; this is shown by the presentation of her actions and reactions to situations which seem to follow an unchanged pattern. McEwan suggests to the reader that she could also be representational of clarity, which could even be linked to her name 'Clarissa' An example of this is when Joe is described a confused 'I couldn't fit the speed of my thoughts' this is juxopposed to Clarissa showing a clear mind whereupon her reaction to the situation seems almost indifferent, therefore emphasising his state of mind. ...read more.

Middle

I think we're finished, don't you? Here she is presented as very different to Joe who, throughout the novel is seen as the sort of person who finds it hard to come to terms with certain aspects of life which are unable to be explained by means of science such as the death of Logan and feelings. Within their relationship it is clear that the subject of children is a very important issue. In chapter one McEwan describes how Clarissa was unable to have children, so the couple remain a 'childless marriage of love' This is built upon as the novel progresses with a remarkable number of references to the gap in her life that is not filled and could only be filled by a child. Clarissa is conveyed as incomplete due to the lack of a child of her own, this is representational of every woman's instinct to love, nurture and protect and what effect it has on someone if they are denied this. This issue is also partially responsible for the breakdown between Joe and Clarissa, they lose interest in each other and it may well be responsible for Joe's unhealthy obsession with Jed. Could he too have the need to love a child and therefore bestow this upon the madman and following a mixture of emotions then grow to hate him? ...read more.

Conclusion

Another important way in which Clarissa is presented within the novel is in the form of a narrator. Chapter nine is McEwan using Joe to try and get inside Clarissa's mind and see everything from her perspective. Although arguably this appears reliable and begins to make the reader forget that this is not actually Clarissa's view on events it is not actually her that is the narrator but Joe. Admittedly he is supposed to know Clarissa very well and so a lot of what he claims she is thinking could be very accurate. But her real role as a narrator, of which only three people in the novel undertake is when she sends a letter to Joe. That is chapter twenty-three. Finally we learn a great deal about her, and much of it only reinforces what we have already pieced together for ourselves in the earlier chapters. She is presented here as sorry for causing him distress due to her shear lack of faith but remains sceptical 'If this is really a disease' this shows her to still be doubting Joe and his state of mind. She has witnessed a real change in him 'The rationalist is cracking' as a result of the accident which has had a passive effect on her character, resulting in her disbelief in him and the change in her relationship with Joe. ...read more.

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