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Eventually Charles learns that he was pushed into the sea by the angry ex-husband of one of his ex-lovers, that Hartley and her husband are emigrating to Australia, and that several of his friends whom he once believed he could absolutely control and manipulate are getting on with their lives.

He also discovers, following James' sudden and slightly mysterious death, that he's been left heir to his estate. He sells Shruff End, moves to London, and as he sorts through his feelings and impressions and experiences, begins to move back into the life he left behind. Read more from the Study Guide.

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John Haffenden

Get The Sea, the Sea from Amazon. View the Study Pack. View the Lesson Plans. Plot Summary. History 1.


History 2. History 3, Part 1. History 3, Part 2. History 4, Part 1.

Five key works by Iris Murdoch

History 4, Part 2. History 5. History 6. Free Quiz. Topics for Discussion. Print Word PDF. He refuses, saying that Hannah is resigned to her fate and does not want to leave. In Part 3 Effingham changes his mind and the rescue attempt takes place. He and Marian try to take advantage of Gerald Scottow's absence to abduct Hannah in Effingham's car, but the attempt fails.

Another car, driven by Max's daughter Alice Lejour, unexpectedly comes toward them, and Effingham's car goes off the driveway and gets stuck in mud. Gerald Scottow returns to Gaze just in time to see what has happened. Effingham leaves with Alice in her car. Later, Alice returns with the news that Effingham has become lost in the bog.

Part 4 begins with Effingham's experiences wandering in the bog, in which he becomes stuck before being rescued by Denis Nolan.

The Sea, the Sea Summary & Study Guide

Gerald announces that Peter Crean-Smith is returning to the house after an absence of seven years. Hannah summons Gerald to her room, where he spends several hours. Gerald announces that he is going to take Hannah away from Gaze before Peter arrives. Parts 5, 6 and 7 describe a series of violent events that result in the deaths of several of the main characters. After Gerald announces that Peter is not returning after all, and that he and Hannah are staying, Pip Lejour comes to Gaze and asks Hannah to leave with him, but she refuses.

Hannah shoots and kills Gerald, and later runs away from the house and falls or jumps from a cliff and is killed. On his way back to Gaze after hearing of Gerald's death, Peter is killed when the car in which Denis is driving him from the airport goes into the sea. At the end of the novel Effingham and Marian return separately to London. The novel's dramatic plot and remote setting are characteristic of Gothic fiction. Conradi notes the author's effective use of "the stage props and scenery of the Romantic sublime ", including massive cliffs overlooking a dangerous sea, isolated castles, mysterious megaliths , and a deadly bog containing carnivorous plants.

Both religion and philosophy are important themes in the book. The central character Hannah is a believing Christian and the unicorn of the title is a symbol of Christ. Their discussion of the situation at Gaze Castle in Chapter 12 deals with power, freedom, suffering, and especially with the nature of "goodness". The typically Murdochian situation of an "enchanter" character surrounded by his or her coterie is exemplified by the household at Gaze.

The reviewer suggests that while the "familiarity of her material is one of her strengths", the reader is "led further and further into the mystery and terror of existence". Several critics have remarked on the "closed" nature of the novel. The variety of fabulation he attributes to the novel is allegory. He argues that while using "the conventions of English soft-boiled mystery fiction", Murdoch actually "toys with conventions".

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The Unicorn First British edition cover. The Unicorn.


London: Vintage. Journal of Narrative Theory. London: Harper Collins.

The Fabulators.