Analysis of Mrs Hayward from the Novel 'Spies' by Michael Frayn

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How is the character of Mrs Hayward developed throughout the opening 3 chapter of Frayn’s ‘Spies’?

Mrs Hayward is a contradictory character who is established through Stephen’s fragmented memory to be both a character of smiling perfection and a broken woman, sitting in the dust weeping. She is both the embodiment of a perfect British wartime wife and a character of suspicion; a spy, a traitor, the epitome of deceit and the focus of two young boys’ overzealous imagination.

When the reader is first introduced to this character it is through the listing of three declarative clauses in one of Stephen’s long, complex sentences. It is here that his fragmented memory is emphasised by the fragmented syntax where only glimpses of Mrs Hayward are shared with the reader. She is ‘in the long-lost green summer shade, her brown eyes sparkling, laughing at something Keith has written.’ Through his use of the verbs ‘sparkling’ and ‘laughing’ Mrs Hayward is portrayed as a friendly and happy character who clearly takes delight from time spent with her child. The use of the adjectives ‘blue’, ‘green’ and ‘long-lost’, help to coat the memory with a sense of vibrancy and suggest that these memories, and characters, are positive, fun and safe; they belong to a lost time that was happy. This is further reflected in the use of pathetic fallacy as the memory, and Mrs Hayward, are in the ‘summer shade’, a time of year and image associated with freedom and enjoyment, suggesting this is a character who is pleasantly remembered and much-liked by the narrator. However, as Mrs Hayward is in the shade this could subtly suggest to the reader that there is an element of darkness to the character as she is shaded, half hidden and perhaps that her motivations and intentions are not always as clear as first imagined.

The reflective, gentle tone of Mrs Hayward’s introduction is shattered by the use of the short simple sentence ‘Then the laughter’s gone.’ indicating to the reader that the...
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