Based on a notorious double murder in Canada in the1840’s, the novel Alias Grace tells the story of a pretty 16 year-old servant girl who conspired with a ranch hand to kill their employer and his mistress and escape with their belongings. They were captured in several days, and later, in a much-publicized trial, found guilty of premeditated murder. The young man, James McDermott, was sentenced to death, and the girl, Grace Marks, narrowly escaped it.
Alias Grace begins after the murderess has served 8 years in prison. The death of Nancy Montgomery, Kinnear’s housekeeper and mistress, has been disregarded as both villains had already been sentenced to death. Grace is around thirty years old, being accused of the crimes when she was only sixteen. Grace is in prison where she has been mentally tortured during her rotation from prison to asylum over time. Doctors who wish to “examine” her frequently visit. She now has a subconscious aversion to these doctors and the world which she knows. She has become accustomed to being silent and unseen.
A young doctor, Dr. Simon Jordan, has taken an interest in Grace. Dr. Jordan is from a wealthy family and of good name, but he is more interested in studying abroad about sanity and those enclosed in asylums rather than interest at home. He has little experience in dealing on a personal basis with the question of sanity of patients, but is intrigued by this fabulously sensationalized murderess. A group that has continuously tried for the pardon of Grace Marks has recruited the doctor with hopes that he will find Grace sane and innocent on all counts of murder.
Dr. Jordan’s main purpose is to help recover the lost memory of the time during the murders. This memory which some to believe was conveniently forgotten helped convict her during the trial; almost as if she had admitted to the killings. During the course of his visits with Grace, Dr. Jordan encourages her to tell of her life before the murders. Grace begins her story with her family in Scotland. Grace had been left with her abusive father and the smaller children after her mother died on the passage to America. A trip taken for necessity rather that need: for her father was in a bit of financial trouble in Scotland. Grace is sent out in Canada as a servant.
Comparing Characterization in Alias Grace, Their Eyes Were Watching God, and Fools Crow
Characterization in Alias Grace, Their Eyes Were Watching God, and Fools Crow
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood is a novel where the main character Grace is a sort of mystery character. In the end she is at peace, but there are still many questions about her left unanswered. Because Atwood’s style of writing is informative, yet unclear at the same time, the audience is left to put the pieces of the puzzle that is Grace together themselves. This leaves the reader guessing about her character. Two other works that contrast the characterization of Grace Atwood uses in Alias Grace are Janie in Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, and Fools Crow in Fools Crow by James Welch. The characterization the authors use in these three novels determines how well the reader will get to know the main characters in terms of emotion.
Characterization is one of the main components of writing a novel. Most of the time in a novel the attributes of the main character are well known. By the time you’ve finished the novel, you feel as if you know all that there is to know about that person. In the case of Alias Grace, Atwood leaves more to questions about Grace’s character than are answered. It seems as if the more you learn about her life, the more of a mystery she becomes. It is the reader’s job to take what is known about Grace and piece her together the best she can. In a review of the book, David Wiley states, “What unfolds is that no one will ever know Grace” (Wiley 3). Her personality is never totally revealed, and the reader is left wondering who she is. One character, Dr. Jordan never finds out anything new about her personality than any of the other doctors who evaluated her before did. She t…
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…statement: The characterization the authors use in these three novels determines how well the readers will get to know the main characters in terms of emotion.
I. Characterization of Grace
A. What role characterization plays
B. How well the reader gets to know Grace
II. Characterization of Janie
A. Hurston’s development of Janie
B. What the reader learns about Janie
III. Contrast of Janie and Grace
A. What makes the two characters different
B. Contrasting views on love and marriage
IV. Characterization of Fools Crow
A. Transformation made by his character
B. How his character is developed
V. Contrast of Fools Crow and Grace
A. Difference in the two character’s emotions
B. Reaction (emotionally) to different situations