Publication details

A Shadow of Truth: Honor Klein in Iris Murdoch’s A Severed Head

Authors

KAŠPÁRKOVÁ Barbora

Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Prague Journal of English Studies
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Citation
Doi http://dx.doi.org/10.2478/pjes-2019-0002
Keywords Iris Murdoch; A Severed Head; Honor Klein; Martin Lynch-Gibbon; psychoanalysis; spectre; Hamlet
Description Iris Murdoch’s novel A Severed Head (1961) is an example of convoluted relationships that may appear hilarious upon superficial analysis. A close reading, however, reveals the suffering triggered by the behaviour of the central characters. The most mysterious female protagonist, the sexually ambivalent Honor Klein, deploys a wide range of possible interpretations. Honor’s powerful figure is like an axis around which the rest of the characters rotate and without whom the plot would fall apart. The question is, nonetheless, if she is a real figure or not. This paper argues that this pivotal character is not a real person but a dreamy and ghostly concentration of elements in relation to the protagonist Martin Lynch-Gibbon. Honor Klein is a force, is suspicion, and fear, and seems to be an external projection of Martin’s subconscious imaginary fears and trauma. She has a similar narrative function as Shakespeare‘s ghosts in, e.g., Macbeth, Hamlet and Julius Caesar.
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