Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

by Gail Honeyman

Start Free Trial

How is the novel Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine critical of stereotypes concerning romantic love and romantic clichés?

Eleanor’s childhood trauma is the main source of her problems. She had to endure this tragedy without being able to tell anyone about it at the time. Now, she can no longer trust people and she also has a hard time in relationship with others because of this. Eleanor also has a distorted view of love and romance, which is the result of her traumatic experience that made her incapable of trusting relationships. The novel provides an insight into Eleanor’s past and explains how she got to be the way she is. It becomes clear that Eleanor’s view on romance is influenced by her traumatic past.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The title character, Eleanor, has numerous personal problems which, the reader learns through the course of the novel, stem from terrible childhood trauma. Eleanor had developed an unrealistic view of love and romance. This perspective influenced her involvement with a boyfriend who abused her—a relationship that she has apparently gotten over. However, she has become highly susceptible to media hype, she becomes infatuated with a pop star and mistakes this celebrity crush for real love.

The satirical aspect of this critique is prominently shown when Eleanor goes to this musician’s concert and realizes he is a total boor. His crude behavior, including flashing the audience, cures Eleanor of her infatuation; unfortunately, the smoke effects at the concert trigger memories of the childhood trauma. In contrast, the idea that friendship is the best basis for affection which might at a later point turn into love is offered through her relationship with a colleague called Raymond, which begins through their mutual concern for another person.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team