The Remains of the Day - Thematic Analysis

Topics: The Remains of the Day, World War II, United Kingdom Pages: 3 (1016 words) Published: March 24, 2011
The Remains of the Day – thematic analysis
How does history function in the novel?
In the novel, The Remains of the Day, Stevens’ self deceptive and partial narration corrects the past, not only his own personal past but also the historical events. This allows him to forget what hurts him and remember only what he can stand. All events remembered by Stevens take place before and after the Second World War, and after the Great War. But nowhere in the novel does he recall the war directly. The same thing happens when the independence of the colonies is brought to mind, Stevens simply prefers to go to bed. Although history is avoided throughout the novel it is still central. I see a parallel between the memories of Stevens and the British history, in other words, between Stevens and Great Britain. The reason why Stevens avoids so much of the history is maybe because he wished/wishes to contribute to it, and the only way that he can say that he has contributed to history is simply to avoid the significance of big events so that his own tiny involvement can be seen by the reader.

There are many known historical persons in the novel, such as, Winston Churchill, Lord Halifax, etc., but Stevens seems to position them on the same level as some other unknown persons, such as, Mr Graham, Mr Marshall, etc. (the “Great butlers of recent times”). The latter of them are being referred to with such a respect, admiration, and importance that it is clear to the reader that Stevens positions them on the same level as the above mentioned historical persons. When talking about these butlers, Stevens utters that “when one encounters them, one simply knows one is in the presence of greatness.”

What is the significance of Stevens leaving Darlington?
This novel portrays the solitary motor trip that Stevens (an old fashioned British butler) takes with the intent to visit Miss Kenton, through Britain in 1956. Stevens has problems concerning the staff at Darlington Hall, and...
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