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Affect Poststructuralism and Repressed Emotion: The True Tragedy of The Remains of The Day


  • Melvin Linderot

Summary, in English

Kazuo Ishiguro's novel The Remains of the Day has garnered much discussion by literary theorists.
Studies have primarily concerned themselves with the main character Mr Stevens and how he
interacts with the complex situations around him. A frequent question is of his reliability, as there are
indications that he does not give correct interpretations of events. This essay uses poststructuralist
affect theory to present a new interpretation of this unreliability as well as of Mr Stevens himself.
Delving into the separation between affect and emotion, this analysis suggests that the protagonist,
Mr Stevens, is emotionally repressed, unable to form affect into comprehensible emotions. Affect,
meaning the preconscious elements and the reactions of the body, is separate from emotions, which
are only formed when these sensations become cognitively understood. By investigating Mr
Stevens's role as a butler, this study reveals his emotional repression and how it shapes his
perception of events. As a result, he emerges as an unreliable narrator, experiencing the narrative
through a distorted lens. This underlines the tragedy of Mr Stevens, as it shows how Mr Stevens's
role as a butler and the society around him has limited his ability to experience emotion.


Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Bachelor's degree


  • Languages and Literatures


  • Kazuo Ishiguro
  • The Remains of the Day


  • Annika Lindskog