Literary Analysis Of Bernhard Schlink's The Reader

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Bernhard Schlink’s novel The Reader, set in Germany in the post-World War II era, explores the social and cultural tensions between the Nazi and Post – Nazi generations in the aftermath of the Third Reich. Schlink uses literary techniques in The Reader to evoke the reader’s sympathy for flawed characters. Schlink does this through using motifs, symbolism, and foreshadowing to portray the protagonists flaw of inferiority and Hanna’s illiteracy. Characterisation and imagery are used to portray the character’s actions, and as a result, the reader’s perception of the characters change throughout the novel. Schlink uses tone, narration, and juxtaposition to convey to the reader the emotionless and monotonous way in which Michael narrates the story,…show more content…
Schlink uses characterisation at the beginning of the novel to convey to the reader that Michael is a fifteen-year-old boy, anxious to grow up, struggling with the conflict internally that is felt by the majority of young adults. Sometimes he feels incredibly confident, brilliant, charismatic and popular, however, sometimes feels “like an enormous failure who has no friends and is not at all pleasant to look at.” There is no in-between to these feelings. When Michael meets Hanna Schmidt, “he is immediately drawn to her, but does not understand why. Prior to meeting Hanna, he has had no intimate experiences but is attracted to her in a way he does not fully comprehend.” He is characterised to be the inferior in their relationship and is almost immediately both the leader and inferior, simultaneously throughout their relationship, as Michael does as Hanna asks, he reads, listens and obeys her every command. He is not just in love with Hanna, but obsessed with her and is quite cunning in the way he manages to create opportunities to see her without his parents ' knowledge. At first, putting his studies aside to spend time with her, he suddenly becomes the top student in his class when it seems that missing class will upset Hanna and consequently spending less time with her. Michael is extremely vulnerable in the…show more content…
Schlink’s narrative uses techniques to enhance the reader’s sympathy for flawed characters through using motifs and symbolism to show Hanna’s vulnerability of illiteracy, characterisation, and imagery to raise feelings of sympathy for Michael, as to how he was mistreated throughout the novel. Narration, tone and juxtaposition were also used to evoke feelings of sympathy for both Hannah and Michael after the tragedy of Hanna ending her own life. Although the narrative is constructed to only see the firsthand perspectives of the protagonists, this induces the reader’s empathy as it allows them to clearly see the thoughts and feelings of the characters. Schlink has used a variety of these literary techniques to appeal to the reader’s sympathy and allows the reader to understand the complexity and the way in which power and authority in certain situations can corrupt a
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