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Alias Grace: Margaret Atwood's Work Of Historical Fiction

647 words - 3 pages

In ‘Alias Grace’, one of her most satisfying novels till date, Canadian author Margaret Atwood takes us back into the mid-1800s in the life and mind of Grace Marks, who was notoriously convicted for the murder of her employer, Thomas Kinnear and his house-keeper Nancy Montgomery. Reading Susanna Moodie’s account of the story, Atwood became interested and dug deeper into the story only to find several discrepancies in Moodie’s version of the story. Hence, she started writing her own version of the story, Alias Grace, which although primarily based on reality, is a work of historical fiction.
The central character in the book is Grace Marks, who migrated to Canada from Ireland when she was 13 years old. On the way to Canada, Grace lost her mother because of a tumour that the latter had developed due to the unhygienic conditions on the voyage. After that, the only person whom Grace was close to was Mary Whitney, a co-servant in the Parkinson household. Mary Whitney’s death, due to pre-marital pregnancy and lame efforts to abort the foetus, weighs heavily on Grace who claims to have heard her voice shortly after she died. After this incident, Grace frequently changes her employers for one reason or another, finally settling into the Kinnear household where circumstances become unfavourable and she finds herself accused of the murders along with James McDermott, who worked at the stables in the Kinnear household. Grace is ordered a life sentence wherein she must spend her entire life repenting in the Penitentiary.
Another important character in the book is that of Dr. Simon Jordan, who is an up-coming expert in the field of mental illnesses. At a time when it was believed that murderers can only be controlled by tying them up or by inflicting injuries upon them, Dr. Jordan resorted to a modern method in order to find the missing links of Grace’s broken chain of memory. He listens patiently to her story hoping to take...

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