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Alias Grace
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Alias Grace > Question #4 : Dr. Simon Jordan

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message 1: by [deleted user] (last edited Oct 23, 2016 11:56AM) (new)

The other main character in this novel is Dr. Simon Jordan, the doctor who assists Grace/Mary to remember her involvement in the murders. What did you think of this character and his motivations? Does he make a judgement on her guilt/innocence throughout the novel?


Maureen B. | 212 comments I felt rather sorry for Dr. Simon. Young, idealistic, burdened with appetites he tried valiantly to ignore--and, it seemed to me, fascinated and outsmarted by the attractive and never attainable Grace. My take is that he teetered between the hope that she was innocent and unknowingly captivated by the possibility that she wasn't. Once he knew the truth, the game was up; he couldn't deceive himself any longer.

As for mental illness, his views were well ahead of their time but perhaps he was a better theoretician than practitioner.


Allison | 396 comments Maureen wrote: "I felt rather sorry for Dr. Simon. Young, idealistic, burdened with appetites he tried valiantly to ignore--and, it seemed to me, fascinated and outsmarted by the attractive and never attainable Gr..."

What a great summary of his character, Maureen! Towards the end of the novel, there were many magnificent passages regarding him. I felt Atwood's writing take an amusing turn at this point. I thought the passage below was pretty all-encompassing (this is the scene before Grace is put under hypnosis by Dr. DuPont (a.k.a. Jeremiah):

As for Simon, he senses that his face is set in a skeptical and not very pleasant sneer; but that's a false face, as underneath it he's eager as a schoolboy at a carnival. He believes in nothing, he expects trickery and longs to discover how it is worked, but at the same time he wishes to be astonished. He knows this is a dangerous state of mind: he must preserve his objectivity. p.478

My feelings of his character in general were pretty much spot on yours, Maureen. I found him to be heavily preoccupied with sexual fantasies, a scientific thinker at all costs, and somewhat naïve in his youthful ways, clearly inexperienced in his approach to therapy and clearly no match for Grace. I thought the descriptions of him were definitely tinged with humour ... he is a bit of a doofus to me ... I wonder if Atwood was using his character for a bit of comic relief -- a foil to Grace's calm and collectedness, and of course very clever and criminal (or was she?) demeanour.


message 4: by Darrell (new)

Darrell | 55 comments I agree with Maureen regarding the good Doctor's internal thoughts that seemed to clash with his external appearances. There seemed to be a bit of cognitive dissonance, which strikes me as a bit funny given that he's a psychologist but also makes for an interesting character because of those internal conflicts and almost a slight lack of self-awareness given that you would assume someone of Simon's profession would ideally be more self-aware. Or perhaps he was self-aware but just repressing those conflicting emotions and intrusive thoughts?


Maureen B. | 212 comments Ah yes, and dear Grace, I found her to be an interesting study. Although I had sympathy for her, there was so much unspoken in her behaviour. Still have so many questions! :-)


Maureen B. | 212 comments Darrell wrote: "I agree with Maureen regarding the good Doctor's internal thoughts that seemed to clash with his external appearances. There seemed to be a bit of cognitive dissonance, which strikes me as a bit fu..."

Sorry, Darrell, your message didn't show up until after I'd responded and what you bring up is something I wondered about too. It must be difficult being a psychologist, being sane all the time, and especially so at a time when no one believed that much could be done about the criminally insane! I think he ultimately acquitted himself well though, although the outcome was somewhat ironic.


message 7: by Allison (last edited Oct 28, 2016 10:37AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Allison | 396 comments Maureen wrote: "Ah yes, and dear Grace, I found her to be an interesting study. Although I had sympathy for her, there was so much unspoken in her behaviour. Still have so many questions! :-)"

I have many questions about Grace, too! If Jeremiah is a fraud (as he must be according to their discussions earlier in the story before the murders took place), then are we to assume the whole hypnosis was a game to both Jeremiah and Grace? If so, then there is something very disturbing in Grace's character that we cannot ignore. Or, did she by chance have a split personality, like the modern tale of Sybil?

What does everyone think?


Sylvia Valevicius | 81 comments I like what everyone in this group added to the explanation of the character of Dr Simon Jordan, but as for Grace -it's Atwood teasing her readers by making her fictional version highly complex & game -playing. Let's face it -an intriguing novel -job well -done!


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