Characters

The most important characters in the short story “Diary of an Interesting Year” by Helen Simpson are the narrator, her husband G., and her husband’s murderer, M.. In what follows, we will analyse all three characters and focus on the relationships between th…

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The narrator

The narrator of the short story is also the main character. Her outer characterisation reveals that she is a 30-year-old married woman who does not have children. Her husband is older than her and he used to be her University tutor. The woman’s outer appearance mirrors the terrible conditions in which she lives; she states that she has “ribs like a fence, hair in greasy rats’ tails”, which suggests that food is scarce and that hot water is a luxury.

The woman’s inner characterisation becomes apparent from the very beginning, from the moment when she decides to use the notebook she got as a present as a diary. Her decision to write a diary suggests that she has hidden thoughts and feelings that she feels she cannot share with her husband.

Throughout her diary, she attempts to distance herself emotionally from the difficult situations in which she finds herself. She frequently turns to humour and irony to express herself:

‘Every one of us takes about twenty-five thousand breaths a day,’ he told me. ‘Each breath removes oxygen from the atmosphere and replaces it with carbon dioxide.’ Well, pardon me for breathing! What was I supposed to do— turn into a tree? 

When it comes to her interactions with G., the narrator comes across as bitter and ironic. It annoys her when her husband talks and she hates it even more when he shows her that he is right in everything he says: “February 1…

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G. - The Narrator's Husband

G. – the narrator’s husband – is another important character in the story. His outer characterisation reveals that he is older than his wife and that he used to be her tutor in University, suggesting that he is an intellectual and academic.

His inner characterisation is shown only from his wife’s perspective in her diary. First of all, the man seems to act like a know-it-all and he constantly enjoys demonstrating his wisdom in front of his wife:

‘You see,’ G. said to me on the way home, ‘capitalism cared more about its children as accessories and demonstrations of earning power than for their future.’
‘Oh, shut up,’ I said. 

G. wants to prove …

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M. - The Antagonist

M. functions as the antagonist of the short story. The man’s outer characterisation reveals that he is not British, but probably Norwegian, Dutch, or Croatian), as the narrator assumes. He does not speak English and one of his most important assets is the fact that he owns a gun.

His inner…

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