On Chesil Beach Themes & Motifs

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Views of Sexuality

As the novel explores the sexual tension both within and between its two central characters, its portrayal of how Edward and Florence individually view sex and sexuality can seem to be simultaneously universal and individual in perspective.

On one level, the broad strokes portrayal of Edward’s increasing desperation to sexualize his relationship with Florence, defined in part by its constant presence in his mind and perception, can be seen as stereotypically male – reductive, simplistic, and defined primarily by physical drives. What tempers this apparent attitude, and what makes Edward somewhat more empathy-worthy, is his struggle to rein in his feelings out of love, respect, and sensitivity. On the same level, the broad strokes portrayal of Florence’s deep revulsion towards the idea of sexualizing her relationship with Edward, defined in part by her fundamental fear of being “penetrated,” might be seen as stereotypically...

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This section contains 2,180 words
(approx. 6 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the On Chesil Beach Study Guide
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