The Silent Patient
Alex Michaelides

by

Karim Chandra

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Symbols
Symbols are objects or figures that artists use to represent an idea.
The Greek myth of “Alcestis”

The Greek myth is of great significance in understanding why Alicia remains mute. The myth defines a female heroine who is betrayed by her husband, Admetus. He selfishly asks his wife, Alcestis, to die in his place. When she is returned to him from her death, Alcestis mysteriously remains mute. Alicia relates her own anguish to this myth. In the novel, both her father and husband choose that she dies. This represents a betrayal that is similar to that of Admetus. Hence, the tale explains to the audience why Alicia had chosen to remain mute after the death of Gabriel.

Alicia’s Paintings

Another symbol that the author utilizes is Alicia’s paintings. The narrator describes Alicia’s cryptic paintings as requiring a keen mind to decipher. The “Gabriel” is used by the author to hint at her murderous instinct for her husband while the “Voila” represents how her father had killed Alicia’s spirit (Michaelides, 130). In the author’s opinion, Alicia uses the strokes of her brushes to “express her complicated emotions on canvas” (Michaelides, 11). The paintings also helps the reader to understand Alicia’s character in a better way.

Alicia’s Diary

The relevance of Alicia’s diary lies in her inability to communicate through any other means. Her journal narrates the main character’s story because she is in a trance of silence. Through this, the audience learns about Alicia’s interactions with the other characters way before the day of her husband’s murder. Also, Alicia’s diary is important as a tool to build-up the suspense in the narration. The description of the man prying on her house creates a mystical mood that leaves the audience wondering who he is, while the conflict represented by the diary between Alicia and the other male characters make them appear as though any of them could have been Alicia’s mysterious intruder.

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