The Assault By Harry Mulisch, The Remains Of The Day By Kazuo Ishiguro And 1984 By George Orwell

2420 words - 10 pages

The Assault by Harry Mulisch, The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro and 1984 by George Orwell

In the three novels studied, The Assault by Harry Mulisch, The Remains
of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro, and 1984 by George Orwell, the
protagonists are controlled by outside influences that force them to
confront their pasts and memories. However, each character handles
their memories in juxtaposing ways. While all three characters
experience epiphanies towards the end of the novels, both constructive
and damaging results come of their revelations. Orwell and Ishiguro
choose to have their characters ignore the realizations they encounter
to show how one’s career or government influence can control a
person’s life. On the other hand, Mulisch creates a more positive
outcome, having Anton face his past and grow from his experiences.

Anton Steenwijk’s life is altered after his family is murdered and the
life he once knew was destroyed. Anton’s present and future are
controlled by the memory of his family and the loss of his innocence.
Throughout his life after “the assault”, his actions and decisions are
unconsciously affected by his past. Anton’s relationships with other
characters are short-lived and unemotional. He brings a different girl
home with him “every few weeks” (Mulisch, 97) but no real
relationships ever come of these dates. He is not bothered by the
fact that he does not form connections with other characters, in fact,
“at times his couch remained empty for a week or two, which did not
bother him much,” (97). Anton does create a bond in his younger years
with one character, Truus, who he knows nothing about. However, she
left such an impression on him that he is drawn to his first wife for
the simple fact that he pictures Truus looking like Saskia. Nothing
much is said about Saskia besides the fact that she is “the embodiment
of an image he must have been carrying about in his head, without
knowing it, since he was
twelve,” (130). However, this likeness to Truus is not something that
can hold the couple together and their marriage soon ends. Anton then
marries a second, also obscure, woman, Liesbeth. The little emphasis
put on Anton’s relationships proves that he is fearful of getting
close to other characters.

Anton also experiences an anxiety attack when confronted with images
from his past. This occurred on a day when Liesbeth was out shopping
and he saw a “white table lighter with dice markings,” (155) which
instinctively brought back the memory of the dice he was holding in
his hand the night of the attack. Anton was fearful of losing
Liesbeth and he knew that “everything was alright; yet at the same
time everything was all wrong,” (155). This is evidence of Anton
beginning to delve into his past but his attacks soon passed, giving
him the opportunity...

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