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One of the most obvious examples of characters being impacted by society is the character of Paul Dempster, or Marcus Eisengrim as he later calls himself. He is a character who is defined by the bullying that he received at the hands of characters such as Boy Staunton because of his mother and her madness. However, he is also just as equally defined by the abuse that he suffered at the hands of Willard, who was his second instructor in the art of magic. Note how Eisengrim himself talks about the massive impact this had on his life:
So I was chained to Willard by fear; I was his thing and his creature, and I learned conjuring as a reward. One always learns one's mystery at the price of one's innocence, though my case was spectacular.
Although Paul Dempster's time with Willard was, initially at least, defined by abuse and fear, at the same time, the adult Marcus Eisengrim is able to look back on it and see how it provided a pivotal stage in his life and formed him into the adult that he became later on in life. This was through the process of losing his innocence and learning about his own "mystery" as a result. In many ways, Eisengrim is a character who is formed through the abuse that he suffered, both in Deptford before he was abducted when he was made fun of and bullied by those around him, but also the abuse that he suffered at the hands of Willard. Society, in the form of those who prey upon the weak and defenceless, is shown to have a massive impact on the life of Paul Dempster, and it is this experience of suffering that turns him into Marcus Eisengrim. Even years later Eisengrim is able to remember what it felt like to be bullied as a child:
I can call up in an instant what it felt like to be the child of a woman everybody jeered at and thought a dirty joke...
Davies in this novel explores the way in which our later lives as humans are defined so strongly by early childhood events and experiences of society, both negative and positive.
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