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The Agency By Y.S Lee Essay

1199 words - 5 pages

Historical fiction shapes a plot and characters on real events, settings, and people that happened in the past. Y.S. Lee’s The Agency, is an example of historical fiction which is based in the Victorian era. In the text, a female detective agency exists whose goal is to expose the scandalous secrets of some of the wealthiest in Britain. The plot is created through combining historical facts with fiction which makes it believable for the reader. Beginning with examining the narrator is crucial for beginning the analysis of this novel. The narrator, along with the principle characters, have a contemporary view on the world which makes it simplistic for the reader to comprehend. The Agency requires the reader to think critically about what would happen if a non-english female detective existed in the Victorian era. How the reader interprets this novel is affected by their own life experiences. Historical detail in Y.S. Lee’s The Agency generates a believable plot line that is simplistic for a reader to understand and makes the reader analyze and think critically about the Victorian era of Britain.
There exists a believable plot in The Agency because of the balance that exists between fact and fiction and Y.S. Lee’s use of necessary anachronism. In order to legitimize the fiction, historical details are used. The merging of fact and fiction is clearly seen when the narrator says: “as she emerged from the omnibus in Great George Street, the first brass nameplate she saw was that of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the most eminent engineer in the country” (Lee 161). This demonstrates how Y.S. Lee easily merges both fact and fiction in the same sentence. Isambard Kingdom Brunel is indeed an historical figure while Easton Engineering is completely factitious. Using both fact and fiction is vital as it enables an interesting plot line to form in a believable manner as it is difficult for the audience to determine what is historical and what isn’t. Differentiating historical details from those that are fabricated is not simplified by their introduction as Y.S. Lee never makes them too intrusive so the reader doesn’t struggle to follow along. When new ideas are introduced, they are done so in a way that their context in the sentence should be enough to determine their meaning. In order to make these historical details contemporary, necessary anachronism is used. Necessary anachronism opens up a window into the past in which characters in The Agency express the feelings and thoughts of real people in the Victorian age in a clearer manner than the actual Victorians could have done. These characters of the past, as well as the narrator are crucial in analyzing this text.
In analyzing historical fiction, a fundamental starting point is with the narrator. In The Agency, the plot line is dictated by a third person impersonal narrator who has a limited point of view. An impersonal narrator, one that does not intrude on the plot, has it’s roots in the Victorian era....

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