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Notes On A Scandal - Summary- Themes

  • Submitted by: silenzio
  • on November 14, 2010
  • Category: English
  • Length: 2,747 words

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Below is a free excerpt of "Notes On A Scandal - Summary- Themes" from Anti Essays, your source for free research papers, essays, and term paper examples.

What Was She Thinking? Notes on a Scandal by Zoe Heller is a psychological thriller about obsessive desire and predatory relationships gone awry. Set in 1996 at St. George’s, a London comprehensive school, the novel revolves around a young teacher, Sheba Hart, her fifteen-year-old student Steven Connolly, and Barbara Covett, an older history teacher. The story is told in a first-person narrative, by the character Barbara, in a manuscript style with a confidential tone, much like a diary. Barbara appoints herself as Sheba’s caretaker from the start, but the reader soon realizes that she is obsessed with Sheba and, therefore, is an unreliable narrator. The scandal in the novel is the affair Sheba has with Steven, her young student. However, while the surface level of the novel is dedicated to exploring the sexual affair, underlying that is the relationship between Barbara and Sheba. At the end, the reader may ask himself or herself, which relationship was more scandalous—the relationship between Sheba and Steven or the one between Barbara and Sheba? This novel is more than a cautionary tale against illicit relationships; it is an in-depth exploration of the devastating force of obsession.
In the foreword, Sheba and Barbara are living together in Sheba’s brother’s home in North London while he and his family are away in India on vacation. The year is 1998, after the affair has taken place. Barbara is telling the story because she feels someone needs to explain Sheba’s motivations. While at her brother’s home, having already been terminated from St. George’s, arrested, and then let out on bail, Sheba feels she can let her guard down. She confides in Barbara, telling her of the first moments she spent with Steven Connolly, the fifteen-year-old student she had the affair with the previous year. She is completely trusting of Barbara and does not hesitate to reveal the most unflattering details of their affair. Barbara listens in a very accepting way, but the...

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