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Personal Identity In I For Isobel

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Isobel Callaghan faces struggles with personal identity whilst living in a patriarchal society of the 1950’s. Amy Witting endeavours into Isobel’s traumatic childhood that branches into her adulthood, exploring her mother’s sadistic mind games in which she implements on Isobel and the transitioning of Isobel’s childhood defence mechanism into her adult life. Through the revelation of Isobel’s true calling to be a writer, she reflects and accepts her harrowing past. Isobel’s mother discourages Isobel’s imaginative and creative flare throughout the novel I for Isobel, Isobel begins to believe all she does is erroneous causing her to restrict her own creativity. Isobel protects herself from her mother’s disapprovals by adopting a form of protection,…show more content…
Mrs Callaghan discourages and harnesses Isobel’s creativity by saying things such as “you are not to take grown-up books without permission”. Although this may seem like an act of a responsible parent, this is the masked version of the cold-hearted torment Isobel deals with and a complete front put on for the dinner guest. Witting’s intention is to demonstrate Mrs Callaghan’s manipulation on Isobel and how she twists ‘the rules’ constantly. Witting ironically features that the very book Mrs Callaghan is rebuking Isobel for is ‘Sherlock Holmes: The Case of Identity’. The significance of this feature is that the book is a literary allusion and clearly symbolises Isobel’s identity and her mother is interrupting her from revealing its true form. Mrs Callaghan's wicked manipulation continues throughout I for Isobel, Isobel sees a fireball but her mother quickly remarks ‘thought you saw’ and adds ‘you don't know whether you’re telling the truth’, distinctively labelling Isobel as a liar. Isobel begins to believe Mrs Callaghan and accepts herself as ‘a hopeless born liar’. Witting intends to show a clear division of when Isobel begins to lose trust for herself, this being paired with her already existing distrust for others, all this caused by her mother’s callous mistreatment. Isobel protects herself from her mother’s manipulative words by adopting a state of…show more content…
Isobel’s mother is the most predominant reason for Isobel’s past being traumatic. Isobel adopts a protective guard recognised as walls, along her journey the walls are shaken causing curiosity and encouraging her to explore her distressing past. The book The Words Of The Saints triggers a curiosity in Isobel prompting a visit to her old, where she finds the connection between her emotions and the book. Running into Mrs Adams in her visit she is confronted with the revelation of her true identity as a