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The Remains of the Day, Stevens and Miss Kenton

The Remains of the Day, Stevens and Miss Kenton

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Published by requiem58

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Published by: requiem58 on Jan 25, 2010
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11/27/2012

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Essay 1 31.12.2009
The Remains of the Day
, Kazuo Ishigurorequiem58
The Remains of the Day
, by Kazuo Ishiguro, is a story which reveals itself through a recollection of memories of Stevens, the butler, and through the occurrences of present day events as they take place in the novel. The events of the present day life of the butler, remind him of past events whichspring to his mind during a motoring tip he is taking.Interpretations of the novel can be drawn out through attempts at defining it: “The Remains of theDay,” metaphorically refer to a day’s end, the evening, when a person is able to sit down and reflectupon events which have passed. It is also a symbol for older age, when a person can assess whatthey have achieved, and what has literally remained for them to do or aim for. But, on a heavier note, it can mean that only a wreck or only an undesirable pieces of one’s life remain at the end of itand that one’s life has been torn and all that remain are bits and pieces, i.e. the remains. Theseinterlinked interpretations can be directly linked to Stevens’ life; throughout his motoring trip he isconstantly reflecting on his achievements, his view of dignity and his relationships with LordDarlington, Miss Kenton and his present employer.Stevens is the protagonist and narrator in this English aristocratic novel. His merciless andrelentless pursuit of dignity, leads him to become almost emotionally hollow as he is unable towholly express or even acknowledge his feelings and as a result, Miss Kenton goes her own waywith someone else. This social stiffness in the end leads him to fully and regretfully realize to whatextent this characteristic has lead to his loneliness and feeling of loss. He dons a mask of  professional poise at all times, and thus creates a blockade between himself and the outside world.His decorum and loyalty to Lord Darlington prevent him from seeing his true nature and he never,during his years of service, brings into question his absolute trust in and service of him.Since he is emotionally unavailable, he is unable to express his subdued feelings for Miss Kenton.Stevens is presented as both a paragon of virtue and as a victim of historical and culturalcircumstances which are beyond his control. Nearing the end of the novel, he realizes that he has been harboring strong feelings for her, but has never dared to reveal them. Her possible allusions tocoming back to work at Darlington Hall fill him with a hint of hope and give him the concludingmotivation to start on his motoring trip. Throughout his years of work at Darlington Hall, due to hisunwavering high level of professionalism, he couldn’t and didn’t allow himself to approach Miss1
 
Essay 1 31.12.2009
The Remains of the Day
, Kazuo Ishigurorequiem58Kenton in a romantic way, but rather kept his distance, and only allowed himself to become professionally involved.Miss Kenton worked as the head housekeeper at Darlington Hall. She parallels Stevens inefficiency and intelligent, but unlike Stevens, does not lack warmth and personality withoutdisregarding her professional etiquette. Over the years she gains a fondness for Stevens, whichgrows into love. But, due to his refusal and inability to reciprocate her feelings, she leaves thehouse to get married to someone else when it becomes clear that he will never allow himself toexpress his feelings for her. Miss Kenton, unlike Stevens, does not substitute Lord Darlington’svalues for her own; her decisions are based on her own judgments and preferences. Due to this, inthe end, she can only regret the fact that her life turned out the way it did due to circumstance andnot because of lack of trying, whereas as in Stevens situation, he realizes that because he didn’trealize some potential situations that presented themselves to him, to make his life better, he hasregretfully ended up as he has.Miss Kenton and Stevens’s father came to the house as a result of the departure of the housekeeper and under-butler. Already in the next passage relating to the un-professionalism of finding love atthe workplace, we can see that Stevens is highly professional and would never cross professional boundaries in order to find emotional security. He is secure in his knowledge that Miss Kentonregards her post seriously and with great dedication, “…she was nothing less than dedicated andnever allowed her professional priorities to be distracted.” Through his description of developingromantic relationships at work, we can clearly see Stevens’ opinion, “…but what I find a major irritation are those persons…who have no genuine commitment to their profession and who areessentially going from post to post looking for romance. This sort of person is a blight on good professionalism.” We can thus judge Stevens’ character as particularly specific in his expectations,not only of himself but also of other employees under his regard in the house. It is clear thatStevens views Miss Kenton as being highly professional, and so with his description of her  professionalism and his admiration for it, we see that he clearly beholds some affection for her.Also, it becomes clear that Stevens holds his own professionalism in high regard and would donothing to disrupt this level of commitment.We take notice that there was some kind of affection between these two characters on Stevens’recollection of Miss Kenton’s letter, and how she described an event that occurred some thirty years2
 
Essay 1 31.12.2009
The Remains of the Day
, Kazuo Ishigurorequiem58ago. Her description of how Stevens’ father had been walking back and forth across the lawnwhilst looking at the ground, “…as though he had hoped to find some precious jewel he haddropped there.”, indicates not only a moment where both of them had stood at the windowsill andwatched his father walking, but it is a symbolic moment which indicates that both of them, have infact, lost something through their extreme professionalism and dedication. Stevens had lost himself completely and had become an emotional desert whilst Miss Kenton, even though she battled withherself and her desire, in the end bid her professional career farewell and went off to get married,though not without hesitation. Through Miss Kenton’s observation of Stevens’ father and her calling him to come closer and see for himself, we can clearly see that their mutual affection for thisolder butler has joined them in some way. But it is the difference in their expression of thisaffection which ultimately means that they would never be able to express their feelings to eachother.To express her feelings towards Stevens, Miss Kenton makes several attempts to open Stevens up toher and to find out what emotions he holds for her. One passionate scene in the novel depicts howMiss Kenton, despite Stevens’ almost physical reaction of withdrawal from her closeness, ‘closesin’ on him and persistently demands to know what kind of book he is reading. They are almost in asort of spell, Miss Kenton would never have dared to approach Stevens in such a manner had shenot felt drawn in by him; an urge to discover something about him, as he is so secretive andimpersonal in his attitudes. Stevens, completely freezes, he is at the same time almost aroused andyet scared of this incredible invasion of privacy and personal space. The spell is broken when MissKenton discovers that he is holding only, “…a sentimental love story.”, which Stevens rather poorly justifies reading as a way of, “maintain(ing) and develop(ing) one’s command of the Englishlanguage.” With this explanation on his part, he clearly shows that even though Miss Kenton madea subtle advance on him, and an attempt to almost force him and corner him into giving up a part of himself, even if it was to reveal what kind of book he was reading, he is unable to emotionallydisintegrate himself from his professional standpoints. This leads his pushing away of Miss Kentonand dampening her romantic desire for him.Stevens, unlike Miss Kenton, is not only emotionally hollow, but he is unable to even bring himself to show some kind of compassion or come to her aid in times of distress. When Miss Kenton’s auntdies, after he has exited the room, it occurred to him that he had not offered her his condolences.But rather than knocking on her door and offering her comfort, he simply imagines that she is in3

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