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'Images of Addiction'

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Introduction

'Images of Addiction' 'Addiction', 'craving', 'dependence', 'enslavement', 'habit', 'obsession'...these are some of the many ways of describing a persons need for something or someone. Addiction and the way it's presented is the main focus of two books, 'Junk' by Melvin Burgess a contempary novel written in 1996 and 'The Man With The Twisted Lip' by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a short story from the Sherlock Holmes series written in 1892. I will be comparing the two similarly themed stories and discuss how they show images of addiction. Both of the books use many different techniques to make the story as realistic and believable as possible. In Junk each chapter is written from the point of view of a different character in the 1st person narrative. This style of writing gives the story a lot of credibility and often involves different characters telling the same event but from a completely different perspective. This is not just very interesting for the reader: it also gives you the chance to get deep into the characters heads and to find out what they are thinking. You can also formulate your own opinions of characters as many of them, particularly Gemma, really involve the reader and try to talk them round to their points of view. In contrast 'The Man With The Twisted Lip' is very formal and written throughout by the same character, Dr Watson. ...read more.

Middle

One such example is when Skolly sees Tar being loaded into the back of a police car: 'It was only David. It was only that lad I'd given to Richard a few years before. I thought, bugger me, you've come a long way and most of it's been straight down...' These minor characters narratives really keep the story in perspective. The book also includes a lot of irony often the readers view of events is the opposite of how the characters feel. Something else, which is hugely important in showing the reader, the dreadful situations that the characters find themselves in are the emotive style of writing, occasionally used. Always very powerful and graphic with the intent to shock the reader 'She was lying on the bed and I thought she was asleep but she was this strange colour. Blue.' The passage goes on to describe the black blood oozing from Lily's arm. These passages have a very powerful effect. Often the author uses short sentences to really emphasise important parts such as 'we never even spent the second night' this sentence is particularly important because it shows how helpless the characters have become in their fight against drug addiction. Age is another important aspect, and we are constantly subtley reminded how young these characters really are. I felt that the main characters in 'Junk' were all very interesting and realistic and weren't just stereotypical Junkies. ...read more.

Conclusion

Both texts convey a very anti-drugs message, but again in very different ways. 'The Man With The Twisted Lip' is very melodramatic and really tries to spell out the fact that drugs are bad for you, it is very critical of the drug users and has little time for them. In contrast 'Junk' gives you first hand evidence of the effects of drug abuse and asks you to decide for yourself whether drugs are bad. You can really see for yourself how they change rather than being told they have changed. I think for a modern day reader Junk's approach is far more effective, however in it's time 'The Man With The Twisted Lip' would also have been successful. However there are similarities between the texts for example they both have certain passages which are very graphic and shock the reader. Overall, I preferred 'Junk' to 'The Man With The Twisted Lip' because of a number of reasons. I found 'Junk' easier to relate to and I really liked the way Melvin Burgess developed the characters, I didn't feel that I got to know the characters from 'The Man With The Twisted Lip' because it was such a short story and I was unfamiliar with the Sherlock Holmes series. However I thought that despite their contrasting styles and approach both books tackled very serious and controversial issues in a mature way and resulting in a book which was very enjoyable for the reader. Richard Teasell 1 ...read more.

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