Characters as Portrayed Through Themes and Images in The English Patient

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Characters as Portrayed Through Themes and Images in The English Patient

While the four main characters of The English Patient are extremely powerful, and important to the reader's understanding of the story, they cannot stand alone without the patterns of imagery, symbolism and metaphor which underpin the text, and offer a complexity which extends beyond the literal level. These patterns reveal information about each character, and provide significant links between characters and ideas which lead to a greater understanding of the novel. Likewise, the plot would have little impact upon the reader were the novel not so densely coloured with these patterns of imagery, symbol and metaphor; amongst which skin, hands, mapping
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Her father had taught her about hands. About a dog¹s pawsŠhe would smell the base of it¹s paw. This, he would say, is the greatest smell in the world! A bouquet!Ša hint of all the paths the animal had taken during the day.

Whilst hands are explored as a medium for recording history and experience, the idea of past experience as ambiguous and subjective is very important to the text. Whilst Hana's father recognises the reflexive nature of the body, and hands, he does not acknowledge the other side to the argument; the fact that experience and identity can be hidden through the physical nature of the body. This manifests itself in the scarred state of the English patient; a man (despite his 'label') without nation, name or a tangible, accessible past. The scars on his body allow him to live as a blank canvas, and any speculations as to his possible identities, are just that; speculations, despite how credible they may be.

To find "truths', is an impossible task, as the nature of history and experience is subjective. However, the body is a canvas onto which every experience is recorded, and this is evident in all of the characters of The English Patient.

A love story is not about people who lose their heart but about those who find that sullen inhabitant who, when it is stumbled upon means the body can fool no one, can fool nothing-

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