The place of woman in terms of writers’ movement during the second half of 20th century was quite significant. For women, their activity was really of paramount importance, since during that period they had a freedom of choice. This freedom could be understood as fighting sexism; the thing is that the clear redefining of the women’s role in society aided them to get rid of discrimination. The women writers of that period were known to be famous mostly for their essays, novels, short stories and fiction. This epoch is called Female Period, which was the result of previous Feminine and Feminist periods. Many scientists describe the contemporary writing period as the self-discovery and freedom from the dependence of opposition (Lee). Here the female writers had the opportunity to define themselves as well as to be engaged in the subsequent search of identity.
As for this essay, it is mainly aimed at analyzing the detective novel “An Unsuitable Job for a Woman” written by a widely-known English crime writer P.D. James. The thing is that the given detective novel, apart from its female author, is also focused on the portraying all the complexity of the detective investigation from the perspective of an inexperienced young private detective Cordelia Gray. Among the major aspects to look into, it is worth mentioning that the paper is basically concerned with the analysis of Cordelia’s female nature, capable to achieve whatever a male detective is; moreover, an urban scenario of the detective novel is to be considered. The third issue that is worth investigating pertains to the ideology observed in the novel.
“An Unsuitable Job for a Woman” is a famous detective novel. The story was adapted into film and different theatrical adaptations, representing the investigation of rather confused criminal case. When reading this detective novel, one cannot but distinguish the peculiarities of how the female private detective copes with problems emerging in the process of her investigation. Concerning this detective novel, it is worth mentioning that Cordelia appeared to have an opportunity to investigate a serious criminal case after the suicide of the former police detective Bernie Pryde; the partner committed a suicide due to having serious health problems. As a result, Cordelia occurs to face unexpected strained circumstances; due to possessing a failing agency, it is obvious that she is quite limited in terms of possible choices to make. All in all, despite the trials that a young private detective is forced to pass, she still decides to move ahead and keep the detective agency. Subsequently, she manages to get a high-profile criminal case to investigate. As for this very case, the readers can vividly see that Cordelia appears to be immediately involved in the murder investigation. Her sensitivity and emotional engagement prove this detective to be extremely eager to figure out all the details of Mark’s suicide.
The novel is regarded to be a nice revision of human relations. Cordelia is the epitome of affected individual. She is not always sure about her actions; yet, she attempts to find out the important facts about the criminal case that she is offered. After the death of the former police detective, suffering from cancer, Cornelia tends to be the reflection of curiosity and presence of mind. She is not egocentric any more. Here the reader could ask what the ground for change was.
Moving through the discussion detective novel, it becomes apparent that a woman can settle on a solution to different complicated queries. The strong position of Cornelia here is obvious, because she always takes the lead roles when defining the things impacting the criminal case. This character proves to contain all necessary qualities in order to cope with dangerous murder investigation. In other words, it becomes clear that women are likely to be in the role of the leading specialists practically in every aspect of life (Plain). The thing is that, while reading the novel, it is possible to eyewitness Cornelia’s proficiency that is hard to be underestimated. She demonstrates a sober-minded nature while investigating the criminal case. Moreover, it is possible to observe the use of instincts as the tool aiding to uncover the mystery of Mark’s suicide. The readers cannot but witness the sharp mind of the private detective as well as unexpected bravery that she demonstrates during the process of murder investigation. As a result, under the authority of the above-mentioned arguments, the females appear as quite appropriate candidature for occupying “unsuitable” positions. The point is that the ongoing problems of the society require sobriety and patience that one can disclose in the nature of women.
Obviously, as for the detective novel, which is under discussion, one should take into account that it is absolutely urban crime novel. It is worth making mention that P.D. James preferred creating strong characters in her writings, who were often involved in investigating exceptionally modern problems such as, for instance, drugs, terrorism, etc. As for P. D. James’ writings, it is necessary to draw attention to that there are some writers criticizing her for “gritty urban crime novels”. To be precise, it is worth saying that P. D. James really enjoyed writing on urban crime thematic. The most of the crimes she displayed in the works incorporate the urban motifs. The same about “An Unsuitable Job for a Woman”, which also refers to this genre, since after a careful plot analysis, it is possible to conclude that all the events take place within the cities.
In P. D. James’ view, the urbanization of society enhanced the number of crimes. As a result, in her writings the author clearly shows her moving ahead with urban themes. Analyzing the works of famous English detective writer all together, one can obviously see the prevalence of urban crime scenes. However, in this novel, the author decided to change an approach to writing by endowing the female character with the professional skills of detective investigation. As for the previous novels, the male character was to look into the criminal cases. To sum up, one should be conscious that, in accordance with P. D. James, the females possess the leadership skills regardless of being harassed. The point is that the history of their struggle against the equality of human rights made the nature of women maximally sober and discreet. Consequently, the female detective is hardly likely to worsen the state of things in terms of prevention of crime. Responding to whether a woman can be a successful private detective, one can come across many arguments that a female can and should occupy this post; and it is all due to the need to ascertain historical fairness, on the one hand, and prove the women not to offer the worst case scenario, on the other.
As for P. D. James’ detective novel, one should be ware that critics refer it to hard-boiled detective novels. The thing is that, while reading P. D. James’ novel, it is possible to observe the harsh reality of urban life. Moreover, the characters possess the feature of laconism, and the willingness to get involved in the murder investigation at the earliest convenience. The heroes of hard-boiled novels are prone to working in the office; they are more likely to work at the scene of crime. According to Ogdon Bethany, the hard-boiled novels are likely to contain “demeaning descriptions”, which are aimed to appeal to the readers from the perspective of the character’s opportunity to lose everything in a minute. The quote says,“She had quickly learned that to show unhappiness was to risk the loss of love.”; it is a good example of extremes shown in the detective novel, respectively. Furthermore, he mentions that a hard-boiled ideology that, in view of many critics, P. D. James’ detective novel is based on, encloses the idea of elaborating a mirror to see the reflection of real evil (Ogdon 76).
Taking a view of “An Unsuitable Job for a Woman”, one cannot but claim that the novel contains the signs of hard-boiled ideology, since the equanimity of the private detective is unquestionable. The quote says, “What is there to be frightened of? We shall be dealing only with men.” Inevitably, its context is clear and gives the readers the chance to understand all the nature of hard-boiled ideology.
All in all, it becomes clear that all female writers, including P. D. James made a significant contribution to the world literature. P. D. James is noticed to use the basic principles of the final third female period, stating the women to possess the strong personality and ability to be engaged in struggles and conflicts throughout their lives. Indisputably, practically all the writings of this author embrace some symbolist and mythological nature with images that can be often compared to images or actions of the protagonists; the author attempted to raise the issue concerning gender stereotypes. Consequently, the reader is subconsciously forced to interpret the event in order to discover something new and learn the outcome. This way, he will unravel the mystery about the males and females; as for the discussion novel, it consists of a struggle as the result of the prolonged investigation. “An Unsuitable Job for a Woman” is considered as one of the best P. D. James’ works. Undoubtedly, this detective novel may be characterized by a unique scenario dissimilar with the previous works of English writer. The plot keeps the readers hooked through the text, offering a variety of sudden surprises.
Ogdon, Bethany. “Hard-Boiled Ideology.” Critical Quarterly, Vol. 34, No. 1 (1992), 71-87.
Plain. Gill. Twentieth-Century Fiction: Gender, Sexuality and the Body. Edinburgh:
Edinburgh University Press, 2001.