The Idea Of Character Development In Enduring Love
The character cannot be built in ease and quiet; only through experience of trial and suffering can development be achieved. Ian McEwan, the Author of the 1997 novel Enduring love, depicts the idea of character development by having the protagonist Joe Rose face adversity when his ordered life is overturned after a fatal balloon accident. Unknown to Joe this accident is the turning point that sparked the fellow witness, Jed Parry’s obsession with Joe, which comes to test his scientific rationalism. McEwan explores the idea of character development by utilising the stylistic techniques of plot structure in relation to the characterisation of the antagonist, the changes in Joe’s tone as narrator throughout the novel and narrative point of view. Through this range of techniques, McEwan shows the audience that people change and the adverse circumstances under which even those who are most resolute in a certain personality or mindset such as Joe, can waver and their identity can be called into radical doubt.
McEwan utilises the technique of plot structure in relation to the characterisation of Parry, the antagonist to portray Joe’s Character development to the audience. The characterisation of Parry helps to depict a direct conflict with Joe. Parry’s role as a threat to Joe and Clarissa’s relationship, and safety, as well as Parry embodying opposite characteristics to Joe such as their religious vs scientific views and beliefs. Joe goes back to the site of the balloon accident and wanders the field, Joe recalls that they “were so happy, so easy with each other” (p127) before the intrusion of Jed Parry into their lives. McEwan uses parry’s character to build the climax of the novel; Joe’s character undergoes some significant internal change in the plot. Joe’s rationalism falters increasingly throughout the rising action of the novel after Parry tells him that “[he’s] well off… [And that he] can get people to do things for [him]. Anything [he] wants” (Ian McEwan ,p129). This statement is interpreted as a threat and causes Joe to “lose control of [his] thoughts” (p43), to become filled with apprehension and becomes a man possessed by worry instead of thinking with a clear mind he begins to “feel like a mental patient… [and that he shouldn’t be left] with [his] mind” (p58). This remark of parry knowing people in parry’s dialogue is used to show the audience Joe’s shift from a rational analytical minded man to a man filled with apprehension and feel as though he has lost grip of his own thoughts. McEwan uses Parry as a figure in plot structure to push the development of Joe’s character, causing Joe’s scientific mind to degrade to one of worry. Having Parry upturn Joe and Clarissa’s relationship, McEwan illustrates to the audience that when Joe’s calm, ordered life is intruded upon by adverse circumstances, his resolute identity wavers.
Tone in relation to the dialogue and stream of consciousness are also employed in the novel to show Joe’s character development. Throughout the novel, Joe’s tone shifts from rational and analytical to urgent and apprehensive. In the opening of the novel during the balloon accident Joe describes it very scientifically instead of reacting with emotion. He describes the balloon being filled “helium; that element gas forged from hydrogen in the nuclear furnace of the stars’ (p2). Joe’s technical and scientific description of the balloon not only reveals his rational thinking but that he is also inclined to examine events from a scientific perspective, even while being in times of great stress. Joe’s rational tone is abandoned when he receives a phone call from parry telling him that “[parry] is at [his] place, sitting … with Clarissa” (p203). This causes Joe to become distressed and lose his natural desire “to elaborate …evolutionary perspectives” (p206) as Parry is the source of his fear, instead overwhelmed by the bodily sensations of panic and anxiety: “I felt sick. My legs were weak, and my bowels had gone watery” (p206). The climax of the narrative, McEwan utilises short sentence structure to indicate a shift in Joe’s tone, revealing to the audience that Joe develops from being calmly rational to overwhelmingly anxious when “[parry] Threaten[s] his loved one” (p207). By utilizing the technique of tone, McEwan illustrates to the audience that these adverse circumstances Parry as caused Joe, wavered Joe’s resolute identity.
Finally, narrative point of view is utilised to show Joe’s character development through the perspective of Clarissa, his common law wife. In the falling action of the novel, Clarissa writes Joe a letter explaining her emotions and actions towards Joe’s fixation on parry’s obsession, the reader to see an external perspective of Joe’s character development. Clarissa describes Joe as having withdrawn and “turn[ed] on [himself] those powers of rational analysis [that he] takes so much pride in” (p. 217). This shows that Joe shifts from his rational analytical self that Clarrisa knows him to be. That character development Joe undergoes from another perspective; the technique of narrative perspective is used to show how Joe’s character when faced with anxieties develop from a rational analytical thinker to a man consume by his fear and apprehension. This letter also symbolises how Parry’s obsession has made Clarissa and Joe’s relationship broken; that a once loving marriage has become foreign and distance as Clarissa feels she now can only to her husband how she feels in a letter. McEwan utilizes the technique of narrative point of view to show the audience the shift in Joe’s character from an external perspective. That the various changes depicted in Joe’s character occurred because of Parry’s intrusion in his and Clarissa’s life and caused him to become a man that was a “stranger to [his own wife] (pg 218), no longer the rational man she married.
Enduring Love explores the idea of character development through the characterisation of Joe using the stylistic techniques of plot structure in relation to the characterisation of the antagonist, which illustrates to the audience that when Joe’s ordered life is intruded upon by Parry and the adverse circumstances he brings, his resolute identity wavers. The change of Joe’s tone throughout the novel shows that when Joe’s relationship is threatened he is no longer rational but apprehensive. Narrative point of view shows the audience the shift in Joe’s character from an external perspective. McEwan illustrates to the audience that the adverse circumstances that Parry caused Joe, wavered Joe’s identity. McEwan utilised these techniques to illustrate the various changes depicted in Joe tell the that people change and the adverse circumstances under which even those who are most resolute in a certain personality and mindset can waver, their identity can be called into radical doubt.