Arnold Bennett and the author's craft : a study of technique in The Clayhanger family



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The Clayhanger Family, consisting of Clayhanger, Hilda Lessways, and These Twain, is, at least in terms of technique, a work equal in stature to Arnold Bennett's acknowledged masterpiece. The Old Wives' Tale, A study of technique in the later, longer work demonstrates the ways in which Bennett refined and extended his art. The major features of the technique are all employed to maintain the balance between family chronicle and Bildungsroman. With point of view, Bennett adopts the omniscient role of historian and mediator to record the life of family and community, but he uses Edwin Clayhanger and Hilda Lessways as centers of consciousness when depicting their personal development. Similarly, he uses linear time to narrate historical events, but he utilizes psychological time to record the lives of Edwin and Hilda. In addition, he uses the realistic motifs of the novel to form the basis of a pervasive pattern of imagery and symbolism. Finally, he employs setting to emphasize the influence of external environment on internal development. Bennett's technique is responsible for the creation of "real," memorable characters. Bennett does not fail to render character, as Virginia Woolf claimed, he merely goes about character-creating in a manner different from the impressionists.



Bennett, Arnold,--1867-1931--Clayhanger family., Bennett, Arnold,--1867-1931--Technique.