On chesil beach

1202 words 5 pages
What does the language and structure of the opening sequence of ‘On Chesil Beach’, reveal about the two protagonists characters.

The initial information that we learn from Ian McEwan in the opening paragraph, about the two protagonist characters in ‘On Chesil beach’ is that they are newlyweds on their wedding night, and that they are extremely inexperienced of anything remotely sexual and are both fairly ignorant of the subject. The phrase, ‘They lived in a time when a conversation about sexual difficulties was plainly impossible’ describes how one of the factors of their ignorance is the time period that they live in, the 1960’s, perhaps can be called the beginning of the ‘sexual revolution’. However, the two characters, Edward and
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However, for Edward, his problems are purely mental issues, the only thing making his experience nervous is his own mind, and even then it is described that ‘his eagerness – for rapture, for resolution – was far greater’, so therefore he is determined to overcome his apprehension and is more than ready to engage with Florence.

On the other hand, ‘Florence’s anxieties were more serious’; they were far more real in other words. As her problems are mainly physically, and as a result of this she has developed very unnerving mental images much like Edward. The words used are to emphasise how fearful Florence is of the pain she will feel due to these sexual acts. ‘Testicles, pendulous’, ‘engorged penis and ‘penetration’, all these words give reference to how uncomfortable she feels both mentally and physically, and a certain amount of empathy is meant to be felt by the reader, both by making the reader slightly uncomfortable in a sense due to the extreme directness of the terms used and by the information that she is a virgin that we are given. Florence also refers to it as a ‘surgical procedure’, this again refers to the fear of pain that she is expecting to feel but also could be interpreted to a major change in her life, such as she will never really be the same person again, much like a surgical procedure is designed to change a person and leave them slightly different to what the once were. Going even deeper into