enduring love opening chapter

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Juan Ignacio Riserbo

Commentary on an extract from chapter 1 of Enduring Love by Ian McEwan

The following is a commentary of an extract from chapter 1 of Ian McEwan’s novel Enduring Love. First published in Great Britain in 1997, the novel is an exceptionally moving piece of drama and suspense which narrates how Jed‘s obsession could test to the limits Joe’s scientific rationalism, threaten his love with Clarissa and drive him to the brink of murder and madness. The extract is taken from the beginning of chapter 1 when Joe experiences the balloon accident and has the strange incident with Jed Parry which will initiate the mass hysteria that forms the main storyline of the play. In this extract the main characters are introduced, Joe, Clarissa and Jed, together with the major themes of love and obsession. In addition to these purposes of introducing theme and developing characters, McEwan’s purpose here is also to create tension that keeps the audience “on the edge of their seats”. McEwan achieves his purpose through the use of linguistic devices and imagery and creating a strong sense of tone and atmosphere.

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McEwan uses a wide range of language devices in this extract which, combined, effectively create and reinforce his meanings and ideas. To start with, the opening sentence of the extract; “The beginning is simple to mark”; drags the reader into the novel. This narrative hook poses the question, the beginning of what? Gaining the readers curiosity and forcing them to read on. The word "beginning" allows us an insight into the importance of this event, because the narrator must have analysed it many times in order to find the moment in which it all began, and so it is obviously ...

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