Analysis

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 206

Harm Done by Ruth Rendell is a mystery-thriller novel that has a cerebral style of writing. Like other works in the mystery genre, Harm Done explores the complexities of crime. The novel meticulously analyzes and comments on human behavior, especially topics in abnormal psychology.

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The two most prominent themes in the novel are pedophilia and domestic violence. The novel explores the concept of evil in a philosophical and clinical psychological context. It raises the question of why people commit heinous acts. The nature of violence is examined from a microscopic view. This is because the violence happens in an idyllic town, where there is an illusion of safety and civil order. However, the town, Kingsmarkham, represents the bubble of safety.

It is as if Rendell is stating that violence is not bound by social constructs and idealist projections on a particular place. This is similar to modern-day mass shootings in which terrorism and crime can happen in places considered safe, such as movie theaters, manicured suburbs, and even schools.

The novel also explores the social dynamics and group psychology of vigilante mobs. It offers commentary on individual interpretations of justice. For vigilantes, killing a person guilty of a heinous crime is not considered murder but justice.

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