To What Extent Does Schlink in His Novel “the Reader”, Show That It Is Impossible to Escape One’s Past.

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Essay Response To
“The Reader”

To what extent does Schlink in his novel “The Reader”, show that it is impossible to escape one’s past.

In his novel “The Reader”, author Bernhard Schlink through the use of techniques such as structure, setting and characterisation reveals to an immense extent that it is impossible to escape one’s past. Schlink utilises the main protagonists of the text, Michael and Hanna, depicting their relationship, along with the idea of post war German guilt to further represent this idea.

Michael is only fifteen when he first encounters Hanna, after this crucial point in the novel Michael and Hanna’s relationship eventuates and ultimately he falls in love with her, creating a physical and emotional connection that he is unable to escape. This is shown by Schlink through the use of techniques such as reflection and structure. Michael’s emotional attachment to Hanna makes him incapable of escaping her, as he is incessantly thinking and reflecting on his relationship with her. The idea that he can not escape her emotionally is portrayed through Michael’s comparison of Hanna with other relationships he has, “I could never stop comparing the way it was with Gertrud and the way it had been with Hanna...I would feel that something was wrong” pg 171, Chapter 2 Part 3. This suggests that even in other relationships, Hanna’s presence was still felt by Michael. Schlink uses the technique of reflection when Michael discusses his time with Hanna by questioning, “Why does it make me so sad when I think back to that time?” pg 35, Chapter 9 Part 1. This quote reiterates the fact that although at a time he felt so passionately for Hanna he is forever haunted by the memory of their relationship, which ultimately is a sad reality for him. This strong emotional connection felt by Michael whilst reflecting on the past illustrates how Michael couldn’t escape Hanna even when not physically with her. Michael’s inability to physically escape Hanna is also...
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