Characterization in The Remains of the Day

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Characterization in The Remains of the Day

The Remains of the Day is a book that believes in defining its characters to remarkable detail. Even minor characters are brought to life, using a variety of methods; some subtle, others more overt. This essay will discuss the entire novel - just the first eight pages. Many novels would still only be setting the scene at this point but, with The Remains of the Day, many of the main characters have already been described in a fair amount of detail.

Creating detailed and believable characters is usually a key factor in a book's success. If a story contains rich, fleshed-out characters, readers will be able to understand and empathise with them, so becoming more enveloped by the narrative and, consequently, more enjoying the book. There are, of course, exceptions; in some cases characters are left deliberately vague so as to increase the atmosphere surrounding them, for example.

However, The Remains of the Day is a book which believes in defining its characters to remarkable detail. Even minor characters are brought to life, using a variety of methods; some subtle, others more overt. This essay title does not refer to the whole novel, though - just the first eight pages. Many novels would still only be setting the scene at this point but, with The Remains of the Day, many of the main characters have already been described in a fair amount of detail.

There are, generally, two methods of characterization. One involves merely stating character traits (along the lines of "the man was arrogant and obnoxious• - note that this is an example and not a quote from the text), a method which Ishiguro does not use in great abundance. He much prefers to reveal character information in more subtle and oblique ways, often through their actions and words. This allows readers to judge characters partly for themselves, without having them explicitly prejudged by the writer.

The character of Stevens is unique amongst the others in the novel, as it is written from a first-person perspective and he is the narrator. Ishiguro uses a wide variety of techniques to develop Stevens' character during the first eight pages.

The very fact that the novel has a first-person narrative is significant. This usually allows readers to know and understand more about the narrator's character, as the text is ?written' by him.
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