About: Kazuo Ishiguro: The Remains of the Day

Essay, 2001

9 Pages, Grade: 2,0 (B)


List of contents:

1 Introduction
1.1 Biography
1.2 Summary of the text

2 Analysis of the text
2.1 Characterisation and development of Mr. Stevens
2.2 History in "The Remains of the Day"
2.3 Structure and Presentation of Narrative Notes

3 Conclusion

1.1 Biography

"The Remains of the Day", winner of the 1989 Booker Prize, was written by Kazuo Ishiguro in 1989.

Ishiguro was born in Nagasaki , Japan, on November 8, 1954. At the age of five he came to Great Britain, were he had a typical English upbringing with an immersion in Japanese culture and language.

Ishiguro has gained a reputation as one of the finest British writers.

"His fiction deals broadly with themes of self-deception, truth and the clash of public and private images of his characters. He reworks the images which people have both of themselves and of their historical background. He situates his work firmly in the inner world of his characters and often avoids much overt plot construction."1

1.2 Summary of the text

While set technically in the present, most of the novel takes place in a sequence of reminiscences in the past.

The book tells the story of an old man who takes a trip across England to the sea. His name is Stevens, and he had been the head butler at Darlington Hall, a famous country house, for many years. He is going to visit a woman, he has not seen in a long time: Miss Kenton, who was once the housekeeper at Darlington Hall. He thinks perhaps she can be persuaded to resume her old position under the hall's new owner, a retired American Congressman.

Along his way to the sea, in flashback, we see his memories of the great days at Darlington Hall, when Lord Darlington played host to the world's leaders.

2.1 Characterisation and development of Mr. Stevens

The main character in this novel is Mr. Stevens, the head butler of Darlington Hall. He is the first-person narrator, or more precisely, an intradiegetic narrator. This means he is both outside and inside the events being narrated. So we have actually "two" main Characters. The "narrating Stevens" of 1956 and the "narrated Stevens" of the past events.

Stevens is definitely a round Character, because we can trace a development within his person. From being a devoted butler, he comes to the point where he realises, that there's something else in life than serving his employer.

The "narrated Stevens" lives only for his employer Lord Darlington. He believes that his position as a servant to a "great gentleman" requires him to remain close to the hub of the wheel. Etiquette between a butler and all others is, at least in Stevens' world, defined clearly and narrowly, and "dignity has to do crucially with a butler's ability not to abandon the professional being he inhabits" (42).2

Stevens thinks that " good English" is one of the most important things a butler has to know. So even in his time-off, he does everything to achieve the standards which the "great gentlemen" have.

I often tended to choose the sort of volume Miss Kenton had found me reading that evening simply because such works tend to be written in good English, with plenty of elegant dialogue of much practical value to me [...] A weightier book- a scholarly study, while it might have been more generally improving would have tended to be couched in terms likely to be of more limited use in the course of one's normal intercourse with ladies and gentleman.(168)

His manner of speech, he achieved while reading all these books, leads the townspeople that he meets on his trip to mistake him for a distinguished gentleman. But Stevens only lives for Darlington Hall, he hasn't been in the outside world at all, what's important for him, is to be a " great butler". He doesn't have "real" friends, he is even distant with butlers from other households, to maintain a strict professionalism. To achieve " ´dignity` and its crucial link with greatness"(113), he even separates himself from himself. He doesn´t use the first pronoun `I' when he talks of himself, instead he always uses the term ´one` when he talks about his own actions or thoughts.


Excerpt out of 9 pages


About: Kazuo Ishiguro: The Remains of the Day
University of Stuttgart  (FB Anglistics)
Essay Writing
2,0 (B)
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
345 KB
About, Kazuo, Ishiguro, Remains, Essay, Writing
Quote paper
Stefanie Grill (Author), 2001, About: Kazuo Ishiguro: The Remains of the Day, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/12646


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