What is the significance of Dora's visit to London in Iris Murdoch's 'The Bell'? An essay exploring the consequences of Dora Greenfield's actions.

Essay by reposCollege, UndergraduateB, January 2003

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Dora's original arrival at Imber is not primarily through choice, and her unhappiness is clear to the reader almost as soon as her and Paul are alone. Dora's visit to London is significant in the fact that her emotional development throughout the novel has peaked, and her realisation of her newfound strength is brought on by her 'connexion' with Gainsborough's picture of his two daughters.

Dora is delighted when she first arrives in London as she is back in the place where she feels she belongs. The crowds 'coursing around her' and not paying attention to her every move thrills Dora as it is in high contrast to her life at Imber where her every move is scrutinised by Mrs. Mark and the other members of the community, including Paul. The bustling and grimy station of Paddington excites Dora and makes her feel 'more alive'. Upon her meeting with Noel, she even explains how the 'noise does her good'.

This heightened feeling of excitement brings out Dora's true, fun-loving personality and her intimate relationship with Noel is a result of this personality trait.

Noel's flat is in contrast to Imber as it is modern. It is symbolic because the fact that the flat is modern and Dora's 'enlightenment' later in the chapter make the relationship between Dora and Noel in the relatively luxurious surroundings more intense, as the distinction makes Dora realise what she is missing out on. The reader knows that Dora sees the flat as luxurious by the way that she 'announces' that she would like a bath, and the consequent explanation of the list system at Imber. The act of Noel bringing Dora a drink in the bath is also dissimilar to Imber because there is hardly any alcohol there as it is seen by the...