Free Essay

Alias Grace

In: English and Literature

Submitted By mguupta
Words 1524
Pages 7
Relationships in Alias Grace The truth may not always be as black and white as it seems. In Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace, the main character is immediately judged and harboured as a criminal. The book is about a woman, who, at the age of sixteen is tried in the court as an accomplice to a double murder. It is a true story that happened in Canada in the 1850`s. A lot of mystery surrounds the role she actually played in the murders because some of the facts do not add up. There are competing versions of the story, and Grace herself has no memory of the event. She confesses, but the story quickly reveals that her lawyer coerced her into giving the version of the story that he liked best. Meanwhile, Grace is prone to mental fits that no one understands, so countless doctors and clergymen examine her and come to differing conclusions; some are convinced that she is guilty, and others are convinced that she is innocent. One of the only things keeping Grace strong is her ability to connect with certain characters that are introduced into her life. The use of her qualities and strengths as a woman allows Grace the ability to hold onto certain relationships longer than others. Grace not only has the ability to draw people into her life, like Doctor Simon Jordan and Mary Whitney, but she is able to entice the reader in ways that others cannot and bring them in as her fascinated audience. To begin with, one of the main characters in Atwood’s novel, Alias Grace, is Doctor Simon Jordan. Doctor Jordan specializes in mental illnesses and is granted permission to handle Grace Marks’ case. Grace Marks is a young lady who suffers from mental fits and is being charged for murder. She also claims to have forgotten the incidents that happened when the murder occurred. Through attempting to figure out whether Grace is innocent or not, Doctor Jordan begins to cast his sexual desires onto her. Atwood exploits an interesting side with the lives of people who are close to Grace, including Doctor Jordan. The story revolves around the meetings that Grace and Doctor Jordan have at the governor’s house where she works as a trustee. During the time that they spend together, Grace feels that:

Grace values the time that she has with Doctor Jordan and begins to tell him the things he wants to hear. This way, Grace is the one who has ultimate control over what is known by the Doctor. Through her mental challenges, she is able to compose her tale to suit Doctor Jordan’s personal view of herself. In the novel, Grace’s story-telling requires the return of Doctor Jordan’s desire. When Doctor Jordan and Grace are talking about the type of quilt Grace wants to make for herself, she, “said this last thing to be mischievous. [She] did not give him a straight answer, because saying what you really want out loud brings bad luck” (Atwood, 89). Grace very rarely gives Doctor Jordan straight-forward answers because she believes that it keeps him interested in her. To Doctor Jordan, as long as Grace says something, she is right and she is doing well. Therefore, Grace uses manipulation as well as her own personal qualities to keep Doctor Jordan interested and wanting more. Another character that Grace keeps at bay is Mary Whitney. The relationship that Grace has with Mary is more than just being best friends; they share a sisterly bond in the midst of the sessions that defines the novel. Grace had been left with her abusive father and the smaller children after her mother suffered a terrible death while on the passage to America. This trip was taken for necessity rather than want due to her father being in a lot of financial trouble in Scotland. For this reason, Grace was also sent to Canada to become a servant which was where she first meets Mary. Mary works with Grace, and Grace “was pleased to be with Mary, as [she] liked her at once” (Atwood, 143). Mary became Grace’s closest friend in Canada and helps Grace out as much as possible. Mary serves as both a motherly and friendly figure in Grace’s life. When Grace makes a mistake and becomes anxious, Mary comforts her and says she “should not take things so seriously, and if you never made a mistake, you would never learn” (Atwood, 152). Mary teaches Grace everything she needs to know to survive in Canada, provides her with clean clothes, and helps Grace look more presentable in society. Upon Mary’s death, Grace uses all the wages that she has earned up to date and puts them into providing Mary the best funeral possible which she had not even done for her mother. Unlike with Doctor Jordan, Grace uses her qualities such as her kind nature to befriend Mary in ways that she will never forget. Apart from the characters in the novel, the reader also finds themselves drawn to Grace because of her kind nature and outlook on life. The reader becomes a part of her fascinated audience as well. Despite the crimes that she has committed, Grace is a likeable character. The reader becomes drawn to Grace and even starts to feel sympathy towards her. Her father is a good for nothing; she has gone through a terribly long journey that left her without a mother in the end. She is also forced into work and seems oddly out of place in a prison, especially being a woman. When Grace shares her thoughts by saying, “It struck me at once how very solitary I was, as I had no friends here except Nancy, if she could be called a friend…I did not know where my family was, which was the same as having none” (Atwood, 301). Grace comes to terms with the fact that she is alone in a world where having a friend is important. The reader begins to empathize and have pity towards Grace due to the reader divulging on the many private thoughts that Grace has. This may be because the reader is able to make a connection with Grace as to what loneliness may feel like. In addition, Margaret Atwood uses a variety of real media accounts regarding Grace Marks which dominate over Grace’s perception of herself. Grace is aware of the false accusations that are made about her and asks the rhetorical question “and I wonder, how can I be all of these different things at once?” (Atwood, 25). This question shows the reader the confusion that Grace has about herself which enables the reader to feel empathy towards Grace as a result of what has been said, and the techniques used to say it. The audience not only feels sympathy but also empathy towards a young lady who is accused of so much wrong, while only trying to survive. In conclusion, Grace and her charm have Doctor Jordan, Mary Whitney, and the reader attracted to her during the novel. Margaret Atwood does an astounding job at getting in the heads of her characters and showing the reader how people of the time really thought about human psychology, how much they didn’t understand and perhaps how much we still have yet to figure out. She uses her main character Grace as a vessel to prove that even while being pushed through something that would cause most to collapse, personal relationships, either through manipulation, love, or sympathy, are able to form and grow freely. Doctor Jordan and Grace have an intimate relationship where Grace uses manipulation and control over what she says to keep Doctor Jordan interested. Meanwhile, Mary was more of a mother or sister to Grace, helping her in daily troubles of life that she faces. And the reader was able to sympathize with Grace on more of a personal level due to false accusations that are made about her. People will always forget what someone has said, and what they did, but they will never forget how that person made them feel. And no matter how hard life can be, Margaret Atwood proves that everyone has the ability to push through with those that mean the most to them.

Works Cited

• Atwood, Margaret. Alias Grace. London: Bloomsbury, 1996. Print. • In search of Alias Grace. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Publishing, 1997. Print. • Murray, Jennifer. "Historical Figures and Paradoxical Patterns: The Quilting Metaphor in Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace." n. page. Web. 10 Dec. 2012. • Clark, Elise. "Alias Grace: Misogynistic Themes in Margaret Atwood's Novel." n. page. Web. 10 Jan. 2013. . • Maufort, Marc. Escaping the Labyrinth of Deception: A Postcolonial Approach to Margaret Atwood’s Novels Volume I. 2006. Web. .

----------------------- while he writes, it’s as if he is drawing me; or not drawing me, drawing on me - drawing on my skin - not with the pencil he is using, but with an old-fashioned goose pen, and not with the quill end but with the feather end. As if hundreds of butterflies have settled all over my face, and are softly opening and closing their wings. (Atwood, 58)

Similar Documents

Free Essay

Alias Series

...Group 1 Alias Essay Sydney Bristow is a delightful woman who surrounds herself with peaceful people. Her community as a fiancée, grad student, friend, and bank worker involves her fiancé Daniel, her roommate Francie, her friend Will, and her fellow classmates and Professor. Being a part of this community shows loyalty and honesty. She has an excellent relationship with them all because they communicate often, they reveal secrets to one another, and they give advice when it is necessary. All of them live the life of an average person; they work and or go to school and volunteer in their community. For the most part they are happy people. Their world is rather sweet; they do not face many issues while being a part of this “Sunny Subculture”. Sydney’s life is wonderful from this perspective, she really do not have to worry about besides school. She has a loving fiancé who is ready to marry her and start a family with her very soon. This is the life many people would love to live without the CIA involvement issues. The environment is colorful from Sydney’s red wig, to the bright sunlight shining on her and Will while they run on the track. It is full of color everywhere they go. This is a bright environment with delightful people. Sydney is loyal to everyone around her and her job also. She is too loyal and honest in a way because her honesty leads to the death of Danny. Sydney was determined to keep Danny and her co-workers happy at the same time. She reveals her secret to Danny...

Words: 773 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay


...presents the way of salvation to us today in simple explantion. • In chapter one, we see Ruth deciding to follow Naomi and to adopt Naomi's people as her people and Naomi's God as her God. "Where You Shall Go, I Shall Go, Your God shall be my God" • In chapter two, we see Ruth working and serving. It's a picture of our role as believers in Christ, and God's providence to his believers though a savior. • In chapter three, we see Boaz marrying Ruth and saving her from her suffering, and it's a beautiful picture of how Christ rescues His people from sin. Boaz, from Bethlehem, is often referred to as "the kinsman redeemer". • In chapter four, we see Ruth enjoying a bountiful reward and inheritance that she didn't earn. It was given to her by grace. Today, we are looking at Chpater 2. This is a beautiful love story between a man and a woman. . … and between a God and His people. Ruth Chapter 2 Now Naomi had a relative on her husband’s side named Boaz. He was a prominent man of noble character from Elimelech’s family. 2 Ruth the Moabitess asked Naomi, “Will you let me go into the fields and gather fallen grain behind someone who allows me to?” Naomi answered her, “Go ahead, my daughter.” 3 So Ruth left and entered the field to gather grain behind the harvesters. She happened to be in the portion of land belonging to Boaz, who was from Elimelech’s family. 4 Later, when Boaz arrived from Bethlehem, he said to the harvesters, “The Lord be with you.” “The Lord bless you,” they replied...

Words: 3181 - Pages: 13

Premium Essay


...Emily Carlson April 18, 2011 Literature 12 Senior Paper on A Good Man Is Hard to Find Week 29 Day 1 Flannery O’Connor was a Catholic writer who was born in 1925, in Savannah, Georgia, and died in 1964. She was well known for her writings about the darker side of humanity. While O’Connor’s stories were often gritty and disturbing to read, they always embodied aspects of grace. O'Connor often depicted salvation through shocking, and violent experiences of her characters. Flannery O’Connor focuses on man’s fallen nature, but at the same time inspires the reader to consider the moments of grace that are offered to everyone. Some individuals recognize and accept this free gift of grace, while others ignore it. Evidence and analysis of the grace offered to the two main characters will be presented in this study of “A Good Man Is Hard to find”, written in 1953. The story is about an unpleasant family who plans a car trip to Florida from their hometown in Georgia. The reader is introduced to the spiteful and manipulative grandmother, her disconnected son, Bailey, his passive wife and baby, and their two older, hard-to-please children, June Star and John Wesley. The grandmother wants to go to Tennessee instead of Florida, so she tells her family about and escaped convict she read about in the news paper to scare them away from going to Florida. Bailey refuses to switch routes and tells her it is nonsense, and the family settles into the car. While on the trip, the children...

Words: 1772 - Pages: 8

Free Essay

The Beatrice and Grace Lawyers

...because of both factories was their only source of income, the town without the factories would not continue to exist, lawyers on all sides had to put in many hours and spend a lot of money on the case but -- What evidence do you see of considering various stakeholders and alternatives and getting the facts before making decisions by the various characters? The evidence I see is all about getting the data needed to argue the facts at hand. Jan needed more data; he should have gotten all doctors reports and got the EPA involved sooner before going to court. The Beatrice and Grace Lawyers needed evidences to show never was at fought. Alternatives for them were to get their own team to check the land to prove that never was at fault. But Facher, Beatrice attorney, argues that neither the pollution nor its results can be proven. He also angles to separate Beatrice from Grace, correctly perceiving that the Grace legal strategy is unpromising. -- What was the "turning point" for Jan? Are you meaning when Jan stood on the bridge thinking it’s one more case he can easily knock out of the park and make a fortune, as well as a name for he and his firm or when he sat in his car imagining the...

Words: 900 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Grandmother Vs Misfit

...are ultimately changed by God’s grace. To begin, the grandmother is one very interesting grandmother. She really isn’t the stereotypical grandmother one might depict. For the majority of the story, the grandmother has a hard time encountering God. It is obvious the grandmother believes she is high class and superior. For example, the grandmother pleads for her life to the Misfit with the words, “‘I know you’re a good man. You don’t look a bit like you have common blood. I know you must come from nice people,’” (O’Connor 127). This exclamation from the grandmother shows her hierarchal belief that she is on top of the social class structure. Furthermore, by suggesting the Misfit must come from good people, it implies she thinks she is a good person as well. Because of this mindset and her high self-esteem, the grandmother thinks she will be saved by God. This attitude blocks her from encountering God, because she doesn’t think she needs to do...

Words: 1319 - Pages: 6

Free Essay

Forum Response

...young single mother, trying to make ends meet, ends meeting meant sacrificing “something.” The “something” may have been sacrificing my own meal in order for my child to eat. I remember using charity resources that would offer assistance with housing and food. I am ever so thankful to God for his grace. God placed people in position at the time when I needed them most. The workers at the facilities that I used in Kansas were absolutely phenomenal. They helped me in so many ways, without being judgmental. I was young, single, and broke, far away from family, hungry, practically homeless, a mother and definitely misguided. They helped me by putting me on a path back to work and helped to build my self esteem through counseling. They provided more than enough. That is why I am able to stand firm today on one of my favorite verses, “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”(Philippians 4:19, King James Version) You are so correct when you quote the Bible, “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” (Matthew 25:35, English Standard Version). Thanks be to God for his grace! Thank you, Rosemary for your service to the...

Words: 309 - Pages: 2

Free Essay

The Inconvenient Duchess

...Christine Merrill Chapter One ‘Of course, you know I am dying.’ His mother ex- tended slim fingers from beneath the bedclothes and patted the hand that he offered to her. Marcus Radwell, fourth Duke of Haughleigh, kept his face impassive, searching his mind for the appropriate response. ‘No.’ His tone was neutral. ‘We will, no doubt, have this conversation again at Christmas when you have recovered from your current malady.’ ‘Only you would use obstinacy as a way to cheer me on my deathbed.’ And only you would stage death with such Drury Lane melodrama. He left the words unspoken, struggling for decorum, but glared at the carefully arranged scene. She’d chosen burgundy velvet hangings and dim lighting to accent her already pale skin. The cloying scent of the lilies on the dresser gave the air a funereal heaviness. ‘No, my son, we will not be having this conversation again. The things I have to tell you will be said today. I do not have the strength to tell them twice, and certainly will not be here at Christmas to force another 6 The Inconvenient Duchess promise from you.’ She gestured to the water glass at the bedside. He filled it and offered it to her, supporting her as she drank. No strength? And yet her voice seemed steady enough. This latest fatal illness was probably no more real than the last one. Or the one before. He stared hard into her face, searching for some indication of the truth. Her hair was still the same delicate blonde cloud on the pillow...

Words: 82622 - Pages: 331

Free Essay

The Holaucost

...the favourable times, Jack Overduin and Corrie Ten Boom thank God for His blessings and care over them while Eli believes he is just getting lucky.) A. “Faith and Victory in Dachau” 1. Pg. 193 “Again and again, we compared our lives with what they had been only a few weeks before. It was a miracle of His mercy!” 2. Pg. 154 “ In His eternal wisdom God gave each of us the grace that we needed, The one received the grace to continue to live in Dachau’s torment without succumbing spiritually and morally, and the other received the grace to die.” 3. Pg. 209 “The S.S guards ate with us. What a difference! They had a dry piece of army bread, while we had delicious sandwiches made with homemade bread form our parcels. Usually, we also had cake and cookies and several kinds of fruit. A strange world indeed! But all in the hands of God.” 4. Pg. 223 “The heavy iron gates opened in front of me and closed behind me. But I had not been freed by my labor, rather, God in His grace had given me many faithful friends who had spared neither time nor effort nor cost nor risk to obtain my freedom.” B. “The Hiding Place” 1. Pg. 154 “Safe. Then- then Eusie, and Henk, and Mary, and –they’d got...

Words: 1123 - Pages: 5

Free Essay

The Dead by James Joyce

...Bhagyesh Patel The Dead by James Joyce James Joyce (February 2, 1882 - January 13, 1941) was one of the most preeminent Irish authors of the twentieth century. He is known for his literary innovation such as a strictly focused narrative and indirect style. Although not strictly originally, James Joyce brought the aforementioned writing methods were to an unparalleled height. James Joyce considered being one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century. The genre of the dead by James Joyce is short story or a novella. The story is Characters * Gabriel Conroy - The main character of the story. (Developed character because he’s the main character of the story and his aunts are Kate and Julia who trust him to keep an eye on things and his thoughts are revealed to the readers.) * Kate Morkan and Julia Morkan - Gabriel's aunts, elderly sisters who throw a party every year during Christmas time. (Developed characters because they through the party so James tell the readers about how they set up the party and stuff.) * Mary Jane Morkan - Niece of Kate and Julia Morkan. (Flat character because the author doesn’t really let us that much about them.) * Lily - Maid. (Flat character because she’s just A young woman who does the housework for the Morkans but lily seems to be acting differently recently because of a problem with her lover.) * Gretta Conroy - Gabriel's wife.(developed character because in the story they...

Words: 1215 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay


...Research Paper (Everyman) 3-8-2013 Mikeal Anderson Everyman is a metaphorical play that illustrates the value of life and death. Everyman was written by an anonymous author, but many believe that it was a priest or monk who would normally write morality plays. Everyman is a character that is supposed to represent your everyday human. In the story God decides that Everyman has become obsessed with wealth and other materialistic things. Resulting in Him teaching Everyman a lesson which is death. Death can be treated and perceived differently in many societies due to religious and moral beliefs. In the story, the author sees death as just important as life. The message that can be taken from this story is that death does not care who you are. It is impossible for anyone to escape death. The author sees death as a man’s final stand, in which there is no return. No man knows when death will come aside from God, so no man can prepare for it. The characters that the author use are to represent realistic characteristics that a lot people have and lose throughout their lives. Good deeds, knowledge, discretion, strength, Everyman’s five wits and beauty. The story begins with Death approaching Everyman to let him know that his life is coming to an end. In response, Everyman tries to bribe Death by giving him a thousand pounds but he declines by saying if he wanted wealth all wealth could be his. Death also tells him to find someone to accompany him on his journey. Everyman...

Words: 503 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

A Good Man Is Hard to Find.

...A Good Man is Hard to Find. The grandmother focuses of showing that she cares nothing about the family by concerning herself with her hat. She builds a setting in her head that if she dies she will look like a lady without any concern for her family's well being. This idea that her hat, which makes her look like a lady in her mind, is more important than her family shows selfishness. Her mistaken ethics are aware from the beginning as the hat is the symbol for this negligence to her family. When they did indeed have a car wreck the grandmother was curled up under the dashboard with her hat still attached to her head. The hat represents that goal of still being a lady no matter the cost. While her grand children are in shock and shaking she is complaining that she thinks she has a hurt organ. The symbol of the brim of her hat smashed as she says “But nobody’s killed” in a frustrated tone shows her reluctance to give up that she was wrong. She will not give up this attempt at being a lady no matter what happens to her or grand children. As she confronts the Misfit her self assurance and idea that she is a lady slowly disintegrates away as she becomes more humble that she will most likely die. The symbolism of these disintegration is when her brim actually falls off of her hat and it realization that she is not a lady by any means. The symbolism of the hat to her concept of doing anything by any means necessary to be a considered a lady by everyone including herself is quite...

Words: 999 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Valuable Lessons from the Past

...knowledge and education. I would like to further my education by completing and earning my Associates in Business Technology and pursue my dream of having my own business. Education has been my path to self-determination and self worth. As a non-traditional student I preserved to go on to be a productive member of society. I myself went through a residential treatment program that helped me to prioritize my life and goals. Another problem that I have encountered is financial duties that would not allow me to continue my education. It is a challenge being a single parent who is only now returning to school. My focus in life is my children as well as my education. Balancing the two may be difficult at times although it can be done. By the grace of God, I find the strength to make time for my family, my community and myself. This gives me a great honor to have made these great accomplishments. With your help and assistance I can overcome these challenges and accomplish my long term goal to receive my Associates in Business...

Words: 313 - Pages: 2

Free Essay

Metamorphosis in Frank Herbert's Dune

...Metamorphoses in Dune Alexandru Maniu In Dune, people can be both men and animals. For purely artistic reasons, the coexistence of different life forms under the same mask is a constant in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. In Orphism, nothing is immutable and everything is subject to change. For Ovid, this postulate must have had some limits generated by the artistic process: “nor can the arts that cure others cure their lord”. Transformed characters – so punished for ill behavior or challenging the gods – eventually acquire immortality, just like the poet himself. Deities can be either anthropomorphic or theriomorphic, yet they can change according to their own will and they don’t lose their divinity in the process. Ovid’s metamorphoses are usually final and the poor misfortunate loses some of his humanity forever. By far the cruelest fate is for one to lose his power of speech or his free-speech, as in the case of Acteon, changed into a stag, Callisto, changed into a bear or Lycon, who becomes a wolf. On a more subtle level, the nymph Echo is left only with the power of speech, but her words are not her own, as she is forced to repeat whatever she hears. All these stories cover a more complex level of understanding that deals with religion and ritual, and should not be taken as mere parables of morality. The myth of Artemis and Acteon encapsulates the confrontation between crude human conscience and the mystery of life, epitomized by the maternal deity (Isis, Artemis, Diana), with...

Words: 1368 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay

Change Theory, no transportation, and losing jobs every month due to my attendance. I went through a change of depending on men who I thought were the world to me and always left me. The final change took place when I got tired and got saved. I grew up in the church all of my life and as an adult; I wanted to live the party life. It is amazing how even in our "mess" God is still there with us even when we stray. We may leave him but he never leaves us. When I got saved, my life changed and has never been the same. I am now stable, my twins are 14 and they are respectful young men of God. I have been blessed with stable employment, nice transportation and I know to depend on God and not man!!! I still have bumps in the road and we all do but his grace and mercy is given to us...

Words: 365 - Pages: 2

Free Essay


...Culture Culture Culture is defined many different ways. Edward Taylor defines culture as “that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, laws, custom, and other capabilities acquired by man as a member of society” (Hill, 2011, p. 89). Another definition of culture comes from Geert Hofstede, expert on cross-cultural differences and management; he defines culture as “the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the member of one human group from another… Culture, in this sense, includes systems of values; and values are among the building blocks of culture” (Hill, 2011, p. 89). Sociologists Zvi Namenwirth and Robert Weber view culture as a system of ideas that constitute a design for living (Hill, 2011, p. 89). Ultimately all the above definitions combine to show culture is made up of values, “ideas about what a group believes to be good, right, and desirable”, and norms, “social rules and guidelines that prescribe appropriate behavior in particular situations” (Hill, 2011, p. 89). Culture Components and Business Business Etiquette Business Etiquette from culture to culture differs, for example between the United States and Japan. Business cards are a big deal in Japan and how you present it can be the difference in how you are perceived. In a meeting in the United States if you pass your business card around the table or just leave it for the person it is acceptable and it will normally only be printed on one side. However, when in...

Words: 886 - Pages: 4