Writing the guilty character

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NO FULL TEXT AVAILABLE. Access is restricted indefinitely. ----- This thesis comprises a creative work - a novel - and an exegesis both examining and portraying guilt. Guilt is one of literature’s most powerful and enduring themes, from Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth to Dostoevsky’s Raskolnikov and Nabokov’s Humbert Humbert. All testify to the fascination of guilt in western society. In my novel Where There is Darkness I portray a character chronically affected by the consequences of his involvement in a criminal act when he was a teenager. The novel’s central theme is therefore about guilt: living with it, its effect on others, and finally confronting it. It is also a story about violence, how we are shaped by our pasts, and how an impulsive action - a ‘moment of madness’ - can have devastating consequences. Writing the Guilty Character, the exegesis that follows the novel, examines the portrayal of guilt and guilty characters in contemporary fiction. In particular it focuses on the ways in which characters are affected by long-term guilt, and how time and memory can alter both a perpetrator’s and a victim’s perceptions of guilt and culpability. A range of contemporary fiction is referred to while an Australian short story and a recent British novel are looked at in greater depth. I also discuss some of the difficulties I experienced in writing the creative work and how I incorporated some of the research findings.
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