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Both passages (a) and (b) grapple with the key element of Gramsci’s quotation: the

expression of the unexpressed, and expression through non-expression. For Tennessee

Williams, the attention in passage (a) towards ‘plausible intentions that were never given
concrete poetic embodiment’ comes as a result of the form employed, and Williams’ choices
in his manipulation of it. In (b), McEwan explores far more ideas of language as an
intermediary force, in a way that borders upon paralipsis.

Tennessee Williams’ use of stage directions in this passage (as with much of his
work) is extremely detailed. The use of each adjective and verb gives the scene a sense of
unmistakeable precision. Stanley screams, not just loudly, but with ‘heaven-splitting
violence’; he reunites with Stella through ‘low, animal moans’; ‘her eyes go blind with
tenderness’ upon their physical contact. The precision of detail in these lengthy few stage
directions gives the entire passage a definitively literary quality which only occasionally
wavers with shorter, more abrupt sentences that in any case give a more vivid depiction of the
action: ‘They stare at each other.’; ‘Then catches her breath as if struck.’ Williams’ language
is selected to cultivate a specific image of the non-verbal action taking place. But it is the
stage direction’s function that complicates this work. The stage-direction is a definitive
illustration of ‘plausible intentions that were never given concrete poetic embodiment, but of
which we have external traces in the mechanism of the structure’. If, as a play, passage (a)
exists primarily to be watched and not to be read, the reader begins to feel a gap open up
between Williams’ language and the way it will be enacted onstage.

Ideas of gaps litter McEwan’s writing in passage (b), which, like passage (a), displays
a manipulation of language that does not necessarily move ideas into ‘the world of concrete
expression’. What is at work in passage (b) is an extraordinary process by which one specific
word is written on at length without ever being written itself. The word first takes on a life of
its own – ‘it danced through [her thoughts] obscenely, a typographical demon, juggling
vague, insinuating anagrams’ – this initial personification imbues the remainder of the
passage with a kind of hellish, antagonistic energy. An astute reader is permitted the
understanding of what the word is without it ever being present in the physical sense of the
word; the ‘dance’ becomes one of dodging its actual utterance, though many more words are
used to indicate its presence. A gap exists in the passage between the word and its concrete
expression in writing; the gap must be stopped by the reader’s understanding.
It is this idea which can be applied to the stage directions of passage (a). Language is
not an intermediary in the passage – when it is not uttered as a line of dialogue, it cannot be.
The intermediary thus becomes the actor going through the dramatic process and executing
the non-verbal action; they are the ‘external trace’ of Williams’ attempted ‘poetic
embodiment’. It is not the responsibility of the audience to stop this gap between language
and existence (as it is of the reader in passage b), but that of an entirely external intermediary.

McEwan digs further than the gaps that he has created in passage (b).