Don't you know that time is not my friend...

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"to narrate is to live, to order a life, to "make sense" out of it" pg. 197

"And it Kept its Secret"

Such was a concept I had not previously thought of. Many people might say that a character's descent into madness is seen through their actions. Mezei argues that as long as Antoinette can narrate her story, she can hold on to her sanity. Which, if you think about it, makes sense. In the beginning, Antoinette retells the story of her childhood with pain-stakingly accurate details. However, as time passes in the book, her narration becomes increasing muddled, Grace Poole's voice entering the novel. The reader sees Antoinette slipping into madness, FORCED madness, as her narrative wanes. Her life, no confined to an attic, no longer makes sense. Ergo, neither do her words. (she believes her attic is not part of England). Humans like to be in control; the mind is the one thing we have total control over. And when it goes, the rest of your life falls apart.

 

My question to you is this: can a character narrate their story effectively and also be mad? can you give examples of this in other novels? Can a lunatic be perfectly coherent?

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I wrote my blog on this same quote. I agree with you that it does make some sense, but I also found some loopholes with this. If narrating this story helped to keep her sane, why did she deteriorate so much so fast--unless there was a huge gap between when she started the narration and when she finished it?

As for your questions, it all depends. Yes, I think that a character can be mad and still be able to narrate the story effectively. Part of their story is the decent into madness. What better way to illustrate this than to get it from the perspective of a mad man or woman with some incoherent parts. I've never read any other books like this, so I can't really back it up, but from a creative standpoint it can be effective. As for your third question, that's a bit more complicated. I think it all depends on the lunatic. It can also be misleading, though. When a lunatic narrates, of course he/she is going to believe that he/she is coherent. This could cause the reader to believe as such--which could be the answer to the question I posed above, but who knows.

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