The Go Between and Spies

Topics: Social class, Sociology, Oppression Pages: 9 (3819 words) Published: April 20, 2013
“THE MAIN CHARACTERS IN THE GO-BETWEEN AND SPIES ARE SOCIALLY OPRRESSED ARE SOCIALLY OPPRESSSED” How far do you agree with this statement? Social Oppression is a main theme explored throughout the two tragic novels, The Go-Between and Spies. Throughout the novels, L.P. Hartley and Michael Frayn successfully convey the idea, through the use of their main characters, the effects of social oppression and class divide. Using many techniques they show how class and oppression had power over the people of the Victorian era. And even after the turn of the century, People were still trapped in the shadows of the past era. Both novels are told as flashbacks taking us through the lives of two main protagonists. The climax of both novels lead to the death of two male characters due to oppression. This gives us the idea that men were under greater pressure from social oppression. Considering, Marian and Ted are caught together 'two bodies moving like one' in the squalid outhouse but yet only Ted takes his life.

Leo, being‘acutely aware of social inferiority’ swings to the extreme opposite as he aspires to be a member of the hall. Leo, ‘a foreigner in the world of emotions’, a character so imaginative and sensitive gets invited into the world of Brandham hall in the summer of 1900. With Marcus thinking he was like them from the sophisticated sound of his home ‘Court Place’. He sees himself as lower class and a mere mortal among gods and goddesses. He characterises the members of the hall as figures of the zodiac. Marian is the ‘virgin of the zodiac’ ‘pure and innocent'. To him she is 'the key to the whole pattern, the climax, the coping-stone, the goddess'. He‘insisted on thinking of them as angels’ no matter what because they ‘belonged to the zodiac’. Leo, aware of the social difference, feels like a ‘misfit’ among ‘these smart rich people’. He is determined to keep his class a secret even though Mrs Maudsley had ‘the ability to fix you like a pinned butterfly with her gaze’. He overlooks the authentic care of his own mother and comments that she would be ‘socially unacceptable ; she would make a bloomer’ and prepares ‘to bear the humiliation’ by himself.

Leo being so young, had no knowledge of the events and situation around them. This lack of knowledge and naivety makes him lost in a sophisticated world of adults and he finds his way to destruction. Leo, with ‘the weather defying him’, after he learns from Marcus that ‘only cads wear their school clothes in the holidays'. He starts to think of clothes as badges of social status and takes an offer from Marian to ‘take him to Norwich tomorrow and get him a new outfit'. This makes more highly aware of his social inferiority as he has ‘only fifteen shillings and eight pence half penny’ as she adds ‘that doesn’t matter,’ ‘we’ve got some’. This opens way for Marian to take advantage of Leo’s malleability and he becomes ‘Mercury’ for Ted and Marian as he gets involved with the illicit love affair. Leo admits he’s a ‘super snob’ and this snobbish, naïve and bigoted character failed to allow him realise the danger of his work until it’s rather too late and the harm is already done. He fails to realise what ‘spooning’ is due to his lack of knowledge he could only have the thought of 'Ted Burgees as her spooning partner'. He gets a ‘green suit’ and a ‘green bike’ as Marian felt ‘green is his true colour ’and is called a ‘shylock’. After all these he still fails to realise he’s been mocked but rather still seeks for adventure thinking of himself as a 'figure of fun'.

The disastrous ending is caused by Leo's naivety and lack of knowledge. He fails to realise the trauma happening around him until it leads to the death of Ted after ‘the virgin and the water carrier’ are caught together ‘two bodies moving like one’. Unlike Leo, who Marcus his friend is nice too, Stephen suffers a worse oppression as he’s manipulated and pressured by his own friend his age Keith. Like Leo he feels like...
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