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Patterning Worry in Narrative, Gender and the Domestic Sphere in Mark Haddon's A Spot of Bother and The Red House


  • Diana Helmich

Summary, in English

This thesis argues for the significance of worry in Mark Haddon’s A Spot of Bother (2006) and The Red House (2012). All of Haddon’s novels can be said to be a study of the human consciousness, containing a variety of worried characters, but it is notable that worry is most predominantly present in the two novels that centre around complex family dynamics. For this reason, these two novels will be the focus of the analysis. The thesis contains a background chapter which traces the etymology of worry, locates the incipience of worry in literature during the Modernist period, and places worry in the framework of gender theory. The text analysis starts with a focus on worry in relation to possibility through a methodological examination of the novels using Mieke Bal’s narratological theory. Next, the worry that is present in the text is contextualised in a gendered framework, in which it is argued that a correlation exists between the represented worry in the novels to the boundaries of gender and the family as a gendered construction. The findings of the thesis are that the way a narrative is constructed is influential in the way worry is both present and represented in a literary text. The contextualisation of worry with a gender perspective explores the idea that the object of worry and the way characters respond to worry is largely determined by notions of femininity and masculinity, both in an individual sense and through the expectations of the way mothers, fathers, sons and daughters are expected to behave.


  • Master's Programme: Literature - Culture - Media

Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Master's degree (two years)


  • Languages and Literatures


  • Mark Haddon
  • Worry
  • Gender Performativity
  • Gender Theory
  • The Domestic Sphere
  • Family
  • Narrative
  • Mieke Bal
  • Judith Butler
  • The Red House
  • A Spot of Bother
  • Modernism
  • Gender
  • Femininity
  • Masculinity
  • British Literature
  • Alienation


  • Cian Duffy (Professor)