Sympathy For Grace In Margaret Atwood's Alias Grace

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Margaret Atwood’s novel Alias Grace is based on the true story of the murders of Mr. Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper Nancy Montgomery by James McDermott and Grace Marks. Although Grace Marks is supposed to be a celebrated murderess, she’s easily the most likeable character in the novel. Through the character development of Grace, Margaret Atwood creates a character that elicits sympathy from the reader, making a case for her ultimate release.
EDIT!!!! When Grace is first introduced, she is recalling the events that took place on her first day working for Mr. Kinnear. She thoroughly describes her surroundings and successfully manages to intricately paint a picture in the reader’s mind, allowing him or her to see what Grace sees.Through her
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“Grace’s own desires are ambiguous, yet everyone else wants something from or for her. The Governor’s wife wants Grace exonerated and released; she also wants Dr. Jordan to marry her daughter Lydia. Reverend Verringer, the man who heads the committee working to secure Grace’s release, wants Grace’s freedom,but he wants Lydia...even as he yearns for Grace. All the men associated with the prison desire Grace in one way or another. Dr. Jordan notes that Grace is the only woman he wishes to marry, and after losing his memory during the Civil War refers to his wife Faith as Grace...he [also] wants Grace’s story for both personal and professional reasons” (Toron, para. 10). Unlike everyone else around her, Grace holds on to what she truly wants without revealing it to others. Her behavior, although cryptic and suspicious at times, allows the reader to sympathize with her because although her desires are not explicitly stated, it can be inferred that she desires her freedom above…show more content…
Through the oppression and harassment that Grace endures, she is further developed as a brave character worthy of sympathy. The matrons treat Grace and the other patients as sources of entertainment, “...[provoking them] especially right before visitors were to show how dangerous [they-patients] were, but also how well they [matrons] could control us, as it made them appear more valuable and skilled” (Atwood, 32). The matrons were willing to overlook the fact that the patients in the mental asylum were more than their ailments in order to elevate themselves to a higher status as their “keepers”. As Grace goes from the penitentiary to the Governor’s house, “...she faces continuous harassment from her guards...” who are supposed to be protecting her (Toron, para.12). They make sexual suggestions towards her and treat her as if she is only good for sex, ignoring the fact that she is only a child. The sexual harassment she endures, coupled with the mental and physical abuse she endures at the penitentiary make the reader feel sympathetic for her as they begin to view her as a prisoner and not a murderess.
Another instance in which Grace is treated as a source of entertainment is in her relationship with the Governor’s family, specifically his wife, who essentially views Grace as a pet project. In the
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