Analysis of Mrs Hayward from the Novel 'Spies' by Michael Frayn Essay

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Pages: 4

How is the character of Mrs Hayward developed throughout the opening 3 chapter of Frayn’s ‘Spies’?

Mrs Hayward is a contradictory character who is established through Stephen’s fragmented memory to be both a character of smiling perfection and a broken woman, sitting in the dust weeping. She is both the embodiment of a perfect British wartime wife and a character of suspicion; a spy, a traitor, the epitome of deceit and the focus of two young boys’ overzealous imagination.

When the reader is first introduced to this character it is through the listing of three declarative clauses in one of Stephen’s long, complex sentences. It is here that his fragmented memory is emphasised by the fragmented syntax where only glimpses of Mrs
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Here Mrs Hayward establishes herself as having a typical female role within a traditional patriarchal family. She is contemplative, rested and motherly, she does not make decisions; she is not the dominant person in the relationship and she defers decision-making to her male counterpart – not unlike Stephen in his childhood relationship with Keith.

Keith’s mother is referred to in the opening chapters using either the pronoun ‘Mrs Hayward’ or ‘Keith’s mother’, both name link her clearly to the males in her life, showing their dominance as her identity is always linked to them. She is not given her own name or identity and this emphasizes the position that she is in within the family; she is the wife and mother. She is surrounded with the semantic sphere of tranquility and passivity, she is ‘unhurried’, ‘calmly smiling’ ‘reclining’ or ‘looking’ and the only time we see any use of dynamic verbs is when she is ‘shopping’ or fetching things for Aunt Dee. Mrs Hayward is clearly enclosed within the domestic sphere and has a clear role within her family, even her diary entries revolve around ‘Ted’s parents’, ‘Ted to OH dinner’, ‘K’s term starts’, ‘K’s sports day’. Each of these entries foregrounds one of the men in her life and shows their overwhelming importance to her daily routines; this is not unfamiliar of a war-time lady of leisure in Britain but it does highlight how she is trapped and isolated