Critical Analysis of the Skull Beneath the Skin

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It could be said that The Skull beneath the Skin is quite typical of the crime genre, however P.D. James has somewhat subverted the genre. The novel incorporates a combination of Intuitionist, Realist and Hard Boiled styles of crime fiction. Usually crime novels fall into one of the three afore mentioned styles. Although obviously an Intuitionist or classically styled crime novel, Skull beneath the Skins as I have previously stated incorporates all three creating a unique novel while still following the traditions and conventions of the crime genre. This can be seen from this essay reference will be made to setting, dialogue, characterisation, dramatic irony, humour, narrative structure and the conventions of crime fiction. Setting is a major factor in Skull beneath the Skin. Typical of the Intuitionist text P.D. James has used a classical closed circle setting. This refers to a setting which is cut off from the outside setting, in the case of Skull beneath the Skin the setting is Courcey Island which can only be accessed by boat. In this respect the investigation is limited to a certain location and group of people. It creates a thrilling atmosphere full of suspense and intrigue. A factor of the hard boiled style crime genre has also been incorporated in the Skull beneath the Skin. It is referred to as a hostile world. Crime fiction is often set in hostile worlds which are dangerous to live in. In the novel this danger is alluded to by two separate factors. The characters are made aware of the bloody and violent history of Courcey Island. This includes the murder of a prisoner of war on the island during World War Two. Not only does this indicate danger in the past but it alludes to danger in the present. As Cordelia Gray begins her investigation she learns she learns many dark secrets and we as the audience relies the simple folk of Courcey Island may go to extreme and violent measures to protect these secrets. These factors of setting combine to create a...
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