Paul Marshall Commentary
- Pages: 4
- Word count: 777
- Category: Character
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McEwan uses Paul Marshall’s character to convey his implicit social class through the use of literary devices.
McEwan exploits sentence structure to portray Paul Marshall’s lack of accomplishment in his life, as he is able to illustrate all his success in a short rehearsed speech. Furthermore the elongated sentence also highlights his insecurities, as it portrays that Paul Marshall has rehearsed his speech thoroughly and there are no flaws or hesitation as he is speaking. The extended sentence may also emphasize a sense of urgency behind his words, as he doesn’t wish to be interrupted.
Paul Marshall owns a large company that manufactures chocolate “Amo.” He is very proud of his company and as a result feels the need to flaunt his wealth. Moreover his speech provides a detailed and passionate account about his product. His chocolate “Amo” bar could symbolize his character, as the “Amo Bar” is not filled with substantial cocoa, instead it is a chemically enhanced product. The product is not pure; it is simply a bad imitation of chocolate. Thus this conveys Paul Marshall’s character because beneath his wealthy and accomplished exterior there lies a fraud. Hence this accentuates his implicit class division; Paul Marshall remains a mystery.
In addition the “Amo Bar” represents Paul Marshall’s involvement in the war and he believes he is making a real contribution to the war by aiding the soldiers with chocolate bars. His character is so proud of his “Amo Bar” that if it was to continue to prosper a “further five factories would be needed.” The alliteration used in this phrase is draw attention to Paul’s success.
Paul Marshall’s character ostentatiously describes the “large house” he purchased in “Clapham Common.” He emphasizes the word “large” and “Clapham Common” as he conscious that he is promoting his wealth; this self-indulgence makes him sound quite pretentious. Paul Marshall further highlights he “hardly has the time to visit,” this illustrates that his estate in “Clapham Common” is simply a luxury purchase rather than a necessity.
When Paul Marshall is introduced to the Quincey children he is portrayed as a “tall man in white suit standing in the doorway.” This depicts Paul Marshall to be the predominant figure in the room, even if the children haven’t noticed him yet. The “white suit” is often an indicator of innocence however this would simply be an ironic statement. Paul Marshall is not the innocent character in the novel. Furthermore the “white suit” could also be another wealth indicator, as a black suit is normal the formality for the evenings. Paul Marshall wears a “white suit” because it is quite a suitable colour for the season and a suit is very formal attire, it shows importance.
Similarly Paul Marshall is also wearing “black and white leather brogues.” They also create a statement of their own. A man from the simple working class would not be able to afford such expensive shoes; this implies that his social class must be higher than the simple working class. Perhaps Paul Marshall’s character also needs to make an important statement in front of the Tallis’ as they are into their wealth and their appearance is always luxuriant. He wouldn’t want to stick out like a sore thumb, so he decides to dress appropriately for his hosts.
The “black and white leather brogues” were also quite fashionable; this reveals that his character follows current trends. Additionally Paul Marshall describes his “brogues” as being a work of art, a “craftsmanship.” He highlights to Lola the name of the shop where he purchased his shoes “Ducker’s in the Turl” as if she should understand where the shop could be found. Perhaps it is more the label drop that boosts his ego.
Paul Marshall’s overall appearance exudes power and wealth. When he discusses “Hamlet” with Lola, he declares it “one of my favourites.” He is able to utter the most common phrase from the play, without having actually seen the play. “He too had neither read nor seen the play,” implies that appearances mean everything to him. Paul Marshall also needs to exploit his wealth in front of the children. Although he has not “read nor seen the play” he says he has just for appearances.
Overall Paul Marshall’s social class remains implicit, this is because although Paul believes in appearances, he only believes in appearances. In the short extracts we have read about him he presents himself in a manner that suggests he is from a wealthy social class, even in front of the children. However beneath his “appearance” there lies Paul Marshall from an unidentified social class.