This extract from Lanark ,written by Alasdair Grey, is a extremely evocative piece of narrative prose. Set inside a church in Lenzies, Glasgow, the excerpt illustrates the lack of love and theloss of self-belief that are inextricably intertwined for the character Duncan Thaw. Writtenin a post-modern type, additionally it is consultant of the subjectivity of notion and its abilityto change with the passage of time. Duncan is compelled to mirror upon his experiences as he isvisited by haunting representations of his previous, within the type of two characters: Marjory and theunnamed man.
The extract begins by instantly evoking a way of environment: µThe afternoon darkenedearly.
The setting of the piece at nightfall, which marks the start of darkness in theevening, creates a way of ominous foreshadowing in its transition from optimistic brightnessto sinister lack of sunshine, consultant of the eerily gloomy photos of grief and sorrow. Themovement of the person µworking peeringly is humble and unobtrusive, mirrored within the slowrhythm of the sentence.
His quiet focus, although, is abruptly shattered; the harshonomatopoeia of µcough creates a sudden break within the deliberate rhythm of the sentence justas the cough itself creates a sudden break within the tranquillity of the scene.He turns round to µa man and a lady [standing] within the aisle.
Happening in a church, itis a picture symbolic of a wedding. This in flip signifies the obvious relationship betweenthe two folks. Within the µbetter mild¶ he realises that the lady is not only any lady: thesyntactical association of the sentence causes the emphasis to fall on the title µMarjory,illustrating her clear significance to the person. The significance of Marjory to Duncan, on a private stage, is positioned in distinction to the namelessness of the person standing by her aspect, whois referred to utilizing distancing language; he’s merely µthe man. He’s merely a personality.This identical anonymity, nevertheless, heightens the facility of his phrases, tone and actions incompletely upsetting Duncan Thaw.
There isn’t any emotional affiliation to a reputation, and thus heis indifferent from the reader.Instantly the person is portrayed as a gloating, swaggering, boastful character; ³We werevisiting mates « and we thought, outdated instances and so forth, why not run in and see Duncan?´That Duncan is solely an afterthought to the person is vexingly offensive; clearly, this meetingdoes not imply a lot to him in any respect, and his intention is clearly to not go to him out of friendship – the person doesn’t even select to determine Duncan as a pal. Nonetheless, it isinteresting that he ought to use the inclusive pronoun µwe as if it had been Marjorys opinion too.This is a sign of the mans dominant character. Marjory, her passivity illustrated in her mere µ[raising of] her hand and [smile], has no opinion of her personal, although it is vitally attainable she ought to wish to meet with Duncan, contemplating their apparent connection.
The mans disparaging tone carries an infuriating sense of superiority. ³No no. No no. I quitelike it on this dimness, extra mysterious, if you realize what I imply« Very spectacular. Veryimpressive.´ The fixed repetitions in his sentences, which, at first, appear to indicate sincerity,in truth have the other impact: they emphasise his lack of honesty. His insistence in preserving the µdimness of the sunshine, and subsequently the suggestion that Duncans art work could be much less nice in its full publicity, displays his blatant disapproval of the mural. It isan implication of the artworks shortcoming; Thaw is made to really feel utterly insufficient asan artist.
His inside insecurity, then, intensifies when Marjory says one thing he can not hear:Duncans worry of disapproval by Marjory, who was evidently as soon as near him, is embodiedin his fearful ³What?´. Marjorys reply, and the one sentence she provides on this interchange,is euphemistic. Her understating, biting criticism is remarkably disagreeable to listen to: ³This isnt your ordinary type of labor, Duncan.´ Her previous familiarity along with his work ± presumably even her appreciation of his artwork ± is lowered to a single sentence of well mannered disapproval.Thaw is evidently upset at Marjorys disapproval.
His silence breaks the rhythm of dialog, and his gradual reply is dispirited ± ³Im making an attempt to point out extra air and light-weight.´ After all, the person, his insensibility and insensitivity to the artist, the artists intention, and theartists artwork emphasised by means of repetition, provides Duncan an empty response: ³So you’re. Soyou are.´ His impudent confidence is obvious in his audible µhumming, which is positioned incontrast to Thaws silent self-doubt. ³Youre almost completed.´ His tone is one in all certainty; hissentence is a press release, moderately than a query.
The person is so certain of himself that he feelssuperior even to the artist of the work he’s making a reference to ± although the artistdenies that the work is completed, his reply is particular ± µIt seems to be completed«± and hisscathingly sarcastic referral to his eye as µuntutored is insulting, as he’s completelydismissive of the value of Duncans job as an artist: ³Then what’s going to you do. Educate?´The mans false modesty evidently injures Duncans confidence as an artist; that Duncanindicates elements of his art work to be repainted is a sign of his insecurity.
Thaw is clearlyshaken; he can not match the mans boastful tone. As an alternative, he µ[turns] round and [pretends]to work¶. This may be taken in each a metaphorical sense and a literal sense; as Duncan turnshis again to the person and lady within the church, so he turns his again to the manscondescending phrases in an try to guard any inkling of self-worth he has left. Nonetheless,the stillness of the scene is once more damaged once more by a cough. This time, his cough is one in all boredom. The person quickens the rhythm of his dialogue in a hurried try to depart thisuncomfortable visitation: ³Well, Marjory´; ³I assume nicely be getting alongside now.´
The mans intention for visiting the church, after all, is now clear ± it was by no means to visitDuncan out of friendship, however to share his personal information: ³By the best way, do you know Marjoryand I are pondering of getting married?´ The person is clearly conscious of Duncan and Marjorys previous relationship. He’s visiting Duncan solely to ridicule him and assert his superiority over him; it’s a deliberate show of masculine energy. ³When had been married, you will need to look in onus.
We nonetheless consider you from time to time.´ Duncan is no person to the person, a mere, insignificantthing; being considered in any respect could be a praise. The mans use of µwe, which includesMarjory in his indifference and lack of concern ± µwe nonetheless consider you from time to time ± isthe final straw for Duncan. He has misplaced his love, Marjory, and along with her, his self-belief; the depth of the emotion Duncan feels is mirrored on this single syllable which µclattered uponthe ceiling and partitions, the plosive consonants of the onomatopoeic µclatter echoing thecomplete destruction of his self-worth: ³Good.´
He’s left alone in reflection, as it’s each actually and metaphorically µtoo darkish to work darkness has fallen in actuality simply as darkness has overcome each fibre of his shallowness.The rhythm of the phrase is gradual as his actions gradual; he lays on the planks, considering his previous love for Marjory. A simile compares his expertise of loss to µa tongue tip returning to ahole from which a tooth has been pulled, extremely evocative in its sensory imagery. Thesensation of the pulled tooth is painful, a mirrored image of Thaws absolute agony.
But, thefeeling of returning to the outlet left by the pulled tooth is nearly instinctive ± he can not helphis ideas returning to Marjory. Thaw is puzzled, although: µhe was certain he had simply seen agirl with out particular magnificence or intelligence. He puzzled why she had been all he wished in awoman. The juxtaposition of the µgirl with out particular magnificence to the µwoman who had all hewanted illustrates the dramatic change in notion that has occurred inside Duncan ± the current Marjory is likened to his moms corpse, symbolic of the loss Duncan has suffered,for now that there isn’t any hope of his love returning, she is pretty much as good as µdead to him. WhileMarjorys final phrases are painfully unforgettable of their well mannered disapproval ± ³This isnt your ordinary type of labor, Duncan´, Duncan needs he had stated one thing µironic and memorablein order to depart an impression in her thoughts.
Nonetheless, his love for her is one-sided; Marjorydoes not really feel the identical affection in direction of Duncan as he does in direction of her, in the identical manner thatMarjory doesn’t share the identical lack of love that Duncan is topic to.The emotional trauma he suffers because of Marjorys metaphorical demise transposes itself to Duncans notion of his personal art work. His physique is µheavy, this maybe being ametaphor for the burdens of loss he now carries; they’re µunusually heavy as he has facedthe compounded lack of each love and self-belief. The sharpness of the brief sentencesquickens the rhythm, mirroring Duncans rising misery.
His mural, an expression of hishard work, dedication, and skill as an artist, now seems to be µhorrible in his eyes. Within the mirror is a mirrored image of Duncans new actuality, born from the ruins of his self-worth. ³Not magnificence! Not magnificence! Nothing however starvation!´ The extract thus concludes with Duncans shatteringdemise of any constructive notion of himself, his art work, or his means to like. He can not understand magnificence anymore ± a attribute he would solely be capable to recognise with a humansoul. As an alternative, he’s stripped from his human qualities, changing into an animal reliant on essentially the most primary of instincts: starvation. Duncan Thaw is hungry for affection, for acceptance, and for thesimple recognition of his existence as a human being.