By using the simple but ominous title of Ghosts, Banville creates a feeling of disconnection from the world and that the lives of these people are not truly real as if their actions have no real affect on the world and how the world has no affect on them. The title suggests that there is a sense of non permanence in this world the characters are in. Their thoughts, their decisions, and their actions are as temporary as ghosts who simply wander the world in search of something they left behind. Banville may have chosen it over any other title because the word “ghosts” is very vague and can be interpreted many ways which allows readers to decipher for themselves how the title can relate. Also, the addition of the “s” in the title shows how there is not just one singular thing that haunts the people and that many people can have many ghosts at the same time.
Opening chapter/first few pagesLicht and The Professor are isolated on an island and see others washed up ashore. The author starts going into detail describing the main characters and giving the readers a sense of how they interact with one another. Banville shows the struggles of the character by explaining how they start to change. Banville starts the beginning of the book in a ominous tone and gives the readers an uneasy feeling in order to emphasize the mystery of the island and sets up a tone for the rest of the book.SettingThe story takes place on an Irish island in the 1990s on a May afternoon. Half a dozen people get grounded on an island where they take shelter for the day in the professor and his assistant, Licht’s house.
The characters come from all backgrounds of ages and walks of life thus having different religious viewpoints. For example, the murderer used to not believe in a god but progresses in his faith as he starts to repent. Other characters like Professor Kreutznaer and Licht are indifferent toward religion. Mentally, all the characters face personal challenges.
Flora battles self identity issues, Felix toys with the idea of justice and vengeance, Sophie feels society’s pressure and expectations upon her, the Professor battles his own internal feelings of remorse and guilt while Licht feels pressured and not good enough. Economically, many of the characters are middle class. The children are on vacation indicating their parents have such money to send their children on a cruise ship away. The murderer however is economically different as he has nothing when he escapes prison. Characters: Conflicts:Flora: She desires to be a woman because of society’s expectations. Also seen as the perfect model of a woman but slowly loses her mind on the island because of how she has twisted herself to think she has to meet those expectations.Felix: He feels an internal requirement to expose the Professor. Sophie: She’s not able to connect with people and feel “normal” emotions.
Professor Kreutznaer: Lost his fame and reputation with age in addition to having Felix there in his company although the reason is unidentifiable. He mistakes a faux painting to be real and earned a lot of money for Licht: Struggles with control of his power against the murderer as he tries to take his job. Licht also does not know how to act around people in any social situation.Narrator/Murderer: Wants a new start but it’s hard to achieve, especially when his past seems to follow him. However, his past seems to come back twice as bad to haunt him and his efforts. Key Characteristics:Flora: Feminine, passiveFelix: Confrontational, mysteriousSophie: Angry, bitterProfessor Kreutznaer: Cautious, exhaustedLicht: Lonely, awkwardNarrator/Murderer: Reminiscent, regretfulPoint of viewThe point of view varies throughout the book. There is a 3rd-person omniscient narrator point of view, but there is also a 1st-person narrator in the murderer’s perspective.
This 1st-person narrator switches off between different characters throughout the book along with multiple flashbacks from those same characters. Main conflict The main conflict is that all the main characters have a shared internal conflict of feeling lost and trying to find themselves in the midst of a maze in their minds as they are trying to get back to the mainland. All who find themselves on this island have a sense of depression and their own internal battles based on their own personal experiences but the story closely follows the narrator’s perspective. Some of the characters connect with the island enjoying the sense of isolation and solitary.
The island is distanced from the rest of society, and it causes the characters to slowly lose their minds and actually become distant from themselves.Commentary on plot, etc.Purpose/values (of characters)The Professor: The Professor values hard work and integrity. He also values the fictional painting of the golden world supposedly painted by the fictional painter Vaublin. His traits directly correlate with this painting as he attempts to authenticate a copy looking for the original. The society of the castaways frighten the Professor and make him uncomfortable as they can disrupt his work, especially Felix the art forger. His purpose in the novel was to display a character that did not arrive on the boat with the others, but still can connect with the internal conflicts the other characters face.
Society has pressured him to reveal his dark secret that the painting was faux and therefore he felt ruined and destroyed as his reputation was shattered in society’s eyes. Felix: Felix values candor, revenge, and respect. Felix’s purpose as as character was to put fear into the Professor after his scam for large amounts of money. He adds to the uneasy tensions coming from the whole group of castaways as they are unwelcomed visitors on the island.
The Professor gave Felix a reason to become more deceiving, expanding his past characteristics. Felix also values the torture of his enemies as he seemed to be on the island to expose the Professor. Society has caused Felix to become manipulative because of his past experiences while living on the street and working hard to survive. Sophie: Sophie values hard work and authenticity.
Sophie’s purpose is to provide a character who came along with the other characters but holds an objective perspective, seeing things for what they really are and warning others about what she sees. Society influences her by causing her to seek out the intentions of people because her father abandoned her when she was young. Flora: Flora values the vibes of the shallows of beauty and the physical characteristics of the golden characteristics within the life forces of all. Society categorizes Flora as the flower girl of a wedding, the little girl that has no mind of her own and does what she is told. Licht: Licht values spontaneity and privacy. Licht is a pretty awkward character who fell ecstatic at the sight of the strangers. He has been isolated from society other than the Professor, being exposed to the others completely bringing out his social awkwardness with bad jokes and out of place flirtiness.
He purpose is that he brings the one source of childness as the actual children act more mature than their age. Licht has the sense of innocence that is missing from all the characters. Society has caused him to feel misplaced and therefore he cannot truly connect socially with the other characters. Narrator/Murderer: Values his freedom as he remembers his criminal days, and when he was imprisoned for that period of time.
This character narrates the book omnisciently giving insight into what specifically is happening within the others. Society has triggered some responses from the narrator coming from his past giving the reading insight on this character, showing us his sad and desperate life. Plot Summary:It all begins when seven people of all ages wash up ashore on an island.
While there, they take residence at the Professor’s and his accomplice, Licht’s, house. There is also a ghostly and mysterious presence that makes an appearance especially to the children there.Construct a plot diagram Parallel or recurring events Throughout the story we see the author tell many stories focusing on the loss of human life and how when people suddenly die the loved ones they leave behind feel their loss in strange and unexplained ways. Connections between this work and another story One of Ghosts main thematic devices is how Banville use light to symbolise innocence or childhood, which is shared with the Scarlet letter. We also see a similar relationship between Felix and the Professor that we see between Chillingworth and Dimmesdale. Although Professor Kreutznaer is aware that Felix knows his secret he is still tormented by Felix who threatens to reveal his secret to the world. ConclusionThe conclusion of the book was unsatisfying because of the anticlimactic ending. All the conflicts were never resolved, but rather pushed away.
The conflict between the Professor and Felix that was expected to happen never occurred. The author doesn’t explain the connection between the Professor and Felix. In the end, everyone ended up just going home. We never really go in depth on how the characters are mentally after returning home, just what they do now.Memorable lines/scenes”She lifted her camera like a gun and shot him” (pg. 7). This quote fascinates me because the way the author compared a camera to a gun was smart; it made me take a second look on the quote and that’s what makes it memorable.
By using a simile to compare a simple action, it made it more interesting to read.”But what I was sentenced to this time was freedom. Freedom! What a thought! The very word gave me shivers. Freedom, formless and ungraspable, yes that was the true nature of my sentence” (pg.
195). This quote gives an insight on what the author really thinks about having his freedom. He was given isolation from society as a punishment and as a result from all the freedom, he doesn’t enjoy freedom anymore because he values the presence of others; he doesn’t want to be alone anymore.”Lying makes a dull world more interesting. To lie is to create” (pg. 191).
This quote is very impressionable for me because it is the truth as much as we don’t want to believe it. This quote gives the readers more insight as to how his values and views of the world. Based off this quote, the author seems a bit of a pessimistic and realist compared to the other characters.Quotations”There is a mystery here, not only in Le monde d’or, that last and most enigmatic of his masterpieces, but throughout his work; something is missing, something is deliberately not being said.” (pg 35) Through his analysis of art the author alludes to how the main style of of Ghosts relies on uncertainty and distraction to create tension and conflict as the reader is never shown the big picture, merely parts of the scene and it’s characters.”‘What shape is a dead parrot?’ She made the pretence of thinking hard. He watched her gloatingly, nodding, his eyebrows rising higher and higher. ‘Give up?’ She got ready to laugh.
‘A polygon!’ He quivered with glee, tee heeing soundlessly. She smiled as hard as she could, nodding. She had heard it before.” This quote exemplifies the dichotomy between how the young girl Alice acts as an adult and how Licht often acts as a child despite being “from 25 to 50” (pg 4).
“Today in my reading I chanced upon another jewel… Yes you have guessed it, I have taken up gardening…” (pg. 97). This quote is from the perspective of the narrator and shows how he is inconsistent and unpredictable by changing his role as a “murderer” to a gardener.Theme and other abstract ideasMajor themesThe disconnection from society depicts ghosts between life and death.
Narrator’s imaginary road to redemption supports the ideas/mindset of the characters.The illusion of childhood is felt in the fleeting warmth of sunlight that reminds us of what we had and what we will never truly have again.Characters described with sincere characteristics and other times personify ideas of people, or ghosts of themselves.How the themes are portrayedThe idea of the disconnection from society is portrayed in the title. In addition to the fact that the “castaways” are believed to be far away from civilization, but despite what they think, civilization was only on the other side of the island. The windows could also act as the doorway or gate to “the other side,” but the characters are unable to open it.
Their disconnection to society forces the characters to adapt to a whole new environment and learn more about their own strengths and weaknesses.The narrator’s road to redemption is short-living and fades within time. In his mind, he desires to redeem himself, however, the purpose is lost in it’s meaning. He loses the motivation to become a new person because he soon realizes that he has no one, due to the long isolation from society.The illusion of childhood is often described when sunlight appears. Very bright and pure, the sunlight shines a window to the past and highlights that it is out of reach for the adults within the book. The closest the characters have with a connection to society is through flashbacks, which sunlight is more prevalent in.
Some characters act as a “normal” person with human characteristics and emotions, however, the characters seems different in their actions compared to others. Over time, they also become slightly delirious and start losing themselves.Moral and ethical problemsTo start, Flora is introduced as the babysitter of the children, however, her role doesn’t seem much needed as she doesn’t have the will or desire to control them. Furthermore, the narrator is introduced as someone who murdered a person and this itself is conflicting both morally and ethically. Later in the book, we also notice the adults aren’t the only ones conflicted as Pound attempts to bribe Alice to satisfy certain needs. In addition, there have been many situations where the readers would become uncomfortable as the characters intrude in other’s personal spaces.
Moreover, the professor knowingly sell a forged painting which is immorally and unethically, driving him to escape to an isolated island.What was the author’s purpose in writing this book? The author’s purpose in writing this is to demonstrate how being away from society can change a person mentally. He puts the characters in a unknown area with many questions unanswered in order to show the readers how being somewhere mysterious will force them to use their minds. Banville shows different people and their different ways of coping with the new area.Imagery, symbolism and allusionsTo develop his theme, the author uses allusions to add a sense of disconnection between the narrator and the characters while also relating it to different situations such as Greek mythology.
For example, the narrator was once described as Odysseus and his journey. In Ghosts, the narrator is on a journey as well, his own road of redemption. However, he too gets lost along the way. Furthermore, the author also uses symbols such as sunlight and metals to emphasize certain events and themes.StyleThe author’s overall styleKnown to be witty and to utilize dark humor, the writer’s style is descriptional and conversational.
Banville tends to ramble on and gets lost in his own thoughts; which become perplexing for the readers. “The morning was extraordinarily still under a sky of pure pearl… I lay and drowsed on a pile of tarpaulins, lapped about by sea-sounds and cool zephyrs” (pg. 200), this quote exemplifies how Banville starts off the paragraph with the narrator laying on the beach, but then he starts to describe all the small aspects of the beach from, the dolphins, the horizons, and the air. Although he does use many words to describe, the readers get lost in the author’s feelings. Banville often switches from 3rd P.O.V to 1st P.O.
V. He uses the narrator (in 1st person point of view) to talk about the other characters, yet also talking about his own issues. He talks to himself by answering his own questions and questioning himself overall. “And yet I believe that what there was was much. Does that make sense?” (pg.78) and “Why then am I surprised anew by it each time? I have my good days and my bad, Guess which one this is” (pg. 54).
These quotes are just some of the many examples of how the mind of the narrator works. He seems to doubt himself of question everything on earth; Banville’s style of thinking is most in a philosophical tone.How does the author’s diction, grammar, sentence structure, organization, point of view, detail, syntax, and irony enhance the meaning of the work and show his/her attitude?The author uses both the first and third person point of view to easily connect and disconnect with the reader and characters. While using the first point of view, he creates a sense of familiarity and openness connecting with the readers while by using the third person, he lets the characters rather connect to further enhance the portrayal of the themes and the meaning behind the journey.
He uses a lot of imagery to create a vividly detailed scene which then further enhances the characteristics of the person and they’re true nature. In Addition, he constantly uses allusions to connect to other works to emphasize and further explain the narrator’s thoughts and meaning.