Thesis: In Alias Grace, not only does Grace keep several people in her life attracted to her, she also draws the reader in as part of her fascinated audience.
To begin with, Simon Jordan is one of the main characters of Alias Grace. Doctor Jordan was a specialist in mental illnesses and is granted permission to handle Grace’s case. Through attempting to figure out whether Grace is innocent or not, Doctor Jordan begins to cast his sexual desires onto Grace Marks. Margret Atwood exploits an interesting side with the lives of people that are close to Grace, including Doctor Jordan. The story revolves around the meetings that Grace and Doctor Jordan have at the governor’s house where she works as a trustee. During the time that they spend together, Grace feels that “while he writes, it’s as if he is drawing me; or not drawing me, drawing on me – drawing on my skin – not with the pencil he is using, but with an old-fashioned goose pen, and not with the quill end but with the feather end. As if hundreds of butterflies have settled all over my face, and are softly opening and closing their wings.” Grace values the time that she has with Doctor Jordan and begins to tell him the things he wants to hear.
This way, Grace is the one who has ultimate control over what is known by the Doctor. She is able to compose her tale to suit Doctor Jordan’s personal view of herself through her insanity. In the novel, Grace’s story-telling requires the return of Doctor Jordan’s desire. When Doctor Jordan and Grace are talking about the type of quilt Grace wants to make for herself, she “said this last thing to be mischievous. I did not give him a straight answer, because saying what you really want out loud brings bad luck.” (Atwood, 89) Grace very rarely gives Doctor Jordan straight-forward answers because she believes that it keeps him interested in her. To Doctor Jordan, as long as Grace says something, she is right and she is doing well.
Another character that Grace keeps at bay is Mary Whitney. The relationship that Grace has with Mary Whitney is more than just being best friends. They share a sisterly bond in the midst of the sessions that define the novel. Grace had been left with her abusive father and the smaller children after her mother had died on the passage to America. A trip taken for necessity rather than need due to her father being in financial trouble in Scotland, Grace is sent to Canada to become a servant. This is when Grace meets Mary Whitney. Grace “was pleased to be with Mary, as I liked her at once.” Mary became Grace’s closest friend in Canada and helps Grace out as much as possible. Marry serves as both a motherly and friendly figure in Grace’s life.
When Grace makes a mistake and becomes anxious, Mary would comfort her and say she “should not take things so seriously, and if you never made a mistake, you would never learn.” (Atwood, 152) Mary teaches Grace everything she needs to know to survive in Canada, provides her with clean clothes, and helps Grace look more presentable in society. Upon Mary’s death, Grace uses all the wages that she had earned up to date and puts them into providing Mary the best funeral possible, which she had not even done for her mother.
Apart from the characters in the novel, the reader also finds themselves drawn to Grace as a part of her fascinated audience. Despite the crimes that she has committed, Grace is a likeable character. The reader becomes drawn to Grace and even starts to feel sympathy towards her. Her father is good for nothing, she has gone through a terribly long journey that left her without a mother in the end, she is forced into work and furthermore, seems oddly out of place in a prison, especially being a women. When Grace shares her thoughts by saying “it struck me at once how very solitary I was, as I had no friends here except Nancy, if she could be called a friend…I did not know where my family was, which was the same as having none.” (Atwood, 301) Grace comes to terms with the fact that she is alone in a world where having a friend is important. As well, by divulging the many private thoughts that Grace has, the reader begins to empathize and pity her. His may be because the reader is able to make a connection with Grace as to what that may feel like.