“Who is Beloved? A revenant, someone who comes back, she seems to offer precisely what we have always yearned for, the past made good, an origin restored, ‘my girl come home’, with ‘new shoes’ to match her ‘new skin’. But she is not that; or at least she is more than that” – Peter Nicholls. To what extent do you agree with this assessment of Morrison’s portrayal of Beloved?

Extract – Page 60 “A fully dressed woman….” to page 63 “and wanted more”

The story of Beloved tells of an ex slave Sethe and her journey to protect her children from the path of slavery. Running from the slave owners Sethe kills three of her children in the hope of saving them from becoming a slave and she ends up in 124. Paul D finds Sethe and her children and begins to grow close to Sethe. The dead child Beloved returns to Sethe and breaks her down. But who exactly is Beloved; a ghost, a reincarnation or more simply a repressed memory?

The character of Beloved can definitely be seen as an image of what Sethe had wished would be now. But is Beloved a ghost, a reincarnation of the baby’s spirit, or is she just a complex due to the guilt of the other characters leading to their overactive imaginations. When the character of Beloved first enters the novel she is described as “a fully dressed woman” who emerges from water “sopping wet and breathing shallow”. At first glance this character would seem like a normal woman who has just travelled a long distance and swam through the lake. This suggests the character of Beloved is some sort of reincarnation of the baby’s spirit and it has just been placed into a new body. Also due to the fact that the other characters in the book have not seen Beloved yet she is still there suggests she is more than just part of their imagination. The imagery of her being “sopping wet” and “breathing shallow” although at first may seem like the description of someone who has just swam across the lake the imagery also reflects that of a child that has just been...

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