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Presentation of Stevens – The Remains of the Day

During the opening of The Remains of the Day, Ishiguro presents the character of Stevens through a first person narrative. Readers are presented with a character that is often quite pretentious, putting on a fa�ade in order to present himself as a “great” butler. Through the first person narrative Ishiguro lets the character gradually reveal himself to the readers and in doing so, lets Stevens show his absurdities to the reader himself. In the opening of the novel, Ishiguro shows the readers how absorbed Stevens is with his profession as a butler, believing it to be the most important profession in the world. Also within the introduction of the novel, Ishiguro presents the readers with Stevens’s feelings of nostalgia through the retrospective structure of the novel.From the very beginning of the novel it is clear to the readers that Stevens is a very reserved and formal character. The language he uses is very precise and correct. Although the novel starts with a proposition from Mr Farraday that is quite unconventional, the way in which Stevens reacts to the idea of a trip shows him to be a very conventional character to the readers. Stevens does not want to seem “presumptuous.” Ishiguro presents the readers with a character that wants to behave in the conventional manner, in a way that is most acceptable in society. By making Stevens reveal himself in this way, Ishiguro is also showing the readers that Stevens will do anything to be the perfect employee, even if it means not being himself. Throughout the opening part of the novel, there are often suggestions Stevens is not being himself in order to please his employer. Ishiguro shows the readers that Stevens does not have particularly good social skills, perhaps as Mr Farraday suggests very early in the novel because Stevens is always “locked up” in Darlington Hall.Yet Stevens still strives to be the best butler he can possibly be for Mr Farraday, which is emphasised through his attempts to “banter” with his employer. Stevens believes that it is “good professional service that an employee provide some entertaining banter.” By including Steven’s joke about gypsies Ishiguro shows the readers that Stevens is socially inept yet also Ishiguro illustrates how Stevens is willing to put on a fa�ade and act in a way that he in uncomfortable with in order to please his employer. Stevens’s desperation to be the best butler he can be is also emphasised here because he actually believes he can teach himself to be funny, yet it is an intuition to know whether or not to make a joke.Although Stevens does his best to please his employer, it is clear he has an attitude of superiority towards Americans. Stevens doesn’t “take Mr Farraday’s suggestion at all seriously”. Stevens looks down on the American way of life and he doesn’t take Mr Farraday seriously because he doesn’t know what is “commonly done in England.” By saying this, Stevens suggests that what is convention in England is the right thing to do, without a doubt. Here, not only has Ishiguro presented Steven’s snobbery towards all things foreign but also shows his patriotic character. Stevens’s patriotic character is later reinforced by Ishiguro when Stevens is describing a view of the English countryside. Stevens believes the English landscape “possesses a quality that the landscape of other nations….inevitably fail to possess.” Stevens tells the readers the view possesses the quality of “greatness”, in doing so Ishiguro demonstrates how Stevens is incredibly proud of being British but furthermore I believe Ishiguro is also showing readers that Stevens himself likes Britain’s landscape because he is attracted to simplicity in his life. Stevens dislikes other nations “dramatic” surroundings, which I believe presents to the readers Stevens love of restraint.Very early on Stevens alerts readers to his relationship with Miss Kenton through his defensive attitude towards her letter, asking readers “why should I hide it?” his paranoid and almost guilty manner about the letter shows the importance it holds for him. The emphasis that it is important only for “professional” matters also presents a defensive attitude, as if Stevens is trying to hide that it is far from professional. The emphasis on profession also reinforces to the readers how Stevens believes you can not do anything for fun, it all has to be for the most important profession there is, being a butler. Ishiguro presents Steven’s obsession with his profession in more than one way.Stevens is communicating to readers in 1956, by which time butlers were quite uncommon, yet through the retrospective structure, Steven’s reminiscence are all about being a butler. The times have changed a lot but Stevens has not. Also, the opening of The Remains of the Day is to a large extent, Stevens considering what a great butler is. No matter what Stevens is thinking about, whether it is Miss Kenton or the English countryside, Stevens will bring it back to being a butler. By portraying Stevens in this way, Ishiguro presents to the readers a character whose profession is his life, Stevens has nothing outside of being a butler. Initially readers may find it quite infuriating that Stevens’s character is so absorbed with his profession like this but irritation soon turns pity as readers can see that his profession is all he has.Despite Ishiguro clearly presenting Stevens to be very nostalgic and a character who admires tradition of the past, Ishiguro also presents a character that is in denial. Stevens likes to think he isn’t clinging to the past. He claims to believe that “there is no virtue at all in clinging as some do to tradition merely for its own sake.” This is of course very ironic as Stevens, in parts of the novel, describes things that happened over 20 years ago. In using irony like this, Ishiguro lets Stevens reveal his own absurdities to the readers and also again presents the disguise Stevens has, in which he is never quite true to himself or the readers.Throughout the opening of The Remains of the Day, through a first person narrative, Ishiguro presents the character of Stevens. By using a retrospective structure Ishiguro is able to emphasise Stevens love for the past and tradition and Steven’s strong feelings of nostalgia. Through the reminiscence Stevens has in the first part of the novel, Ishiguro is able to show the readers how obsessed he is with his profession, although readers may fined this to be irritating to begin with, I believe most begin to pity Stevens’s way of life. It is evident that Stevens is a very restrained character, who will do anything to please his employer, as this is what a “great” butler should do. By demonstrating Stevens attempt at bantering and telling a joke, Ishiguro presents the character’s social ineptness. Ishiguro’s use of irony also lets Steven’s himself reveal his own absurd nature to the readers.

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