Prose Commentary

1649 words 7 pages
Lanark: Prose Commentary 1
Prose Commentary
Retno Widyanti
This extract from Lanark ,written by Alasdair Gray, is a highly evocative piece of narrative prose. Set within a church in Lenzies, Glasgow, the excerpt illustrates the loss of love and theloss of self-belief which are inextricably intertwined for the character Duncan Thaw. Writtenin a post-modern style, it is also representative of the subjectivity of perception and its abilityto change with the passage of time. Duncan is forced to reflect upon his experiences as he isvisited by haunting representations of his past, in the form of two characters: Marjory and theunnamed man.The extract begins by immediately evoking a sense of atmosphere: µThe afternoon darkenedearly¶. The
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However,the stillness of the scene is again broken again by a cough. This time, his cough is one of boredom. The man quickens the rhythm of his dialogue in a hurried attempt to leave thisuncomfortable visitation: ³Well, Marjory´; ³I think we¶ll be getting along now.´The man¶s intention for visiting the church, of course, is now clear ± it was never to visitDuncan out of friendship, but to share his own news: ³By the way, did you know Marjoryand I are thinking of getting married?´ The man is obviously aware of Duncan and Marjory¶s past relationship. He is visiting Duncan only to ridicule him and assert his superiority over him; it is a deliberate display of masculine power. ³When we¶re married, you must look in onus. We still think of you now and again.´ Duncan is nobody to the man, a mere, insignificantthing; being thought of at all would be a compliment. The man¶s use of µwe¶, which includesMarjory in his indifference and lack of concern ± µwe still think of you now and again¶ ± isthe last straw for Duncan. He has lost his love, Marjory, and with her, his self-belief; the Lanark: Prose Commentary 3 intensity of the emotion Duncan feels is reflected in this single syllable which µclattered uponthe ceiling and walls¶, the plosive consonants of the onomatopoeic µclatter¶ echoing thecomplete destruction of his self-worth: ³Good.´He is left alone in reflection, as it is both literally and metaphorically µtoo dark to


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