Analytical Essay on the Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore, Free Example

Published: 2022-02-23
Analytical Essay on the Birdcage Walk by Helen Dunmore, Free Example
Essay type:  Analytical essays
Categories:  Literature French Revolution
Pages: 3
Wordcount: 558 words
5 min read

The Birdcage Walk is a thrilling historical novel set in the years 1792 and 1793 in the middle of the onset of the French revolution. The entire story is marked with gloom from the start, where Diner is digging a grave to bury his French wife, whom he has slain to the death of Lizzie's mother, Julia, a feminist and dedicated writer who at this point has been long forgotten up to the collapse of the real estate business. The book has explored various themes, some, more subtly than others. The issue of oppression in marriage has been dominantly examined as well as the theme of war while others such as the self-discovery of Lizzie were met subtly at the individual characters level.

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When the story begins, both Lizzie and her mother Julia have recently been wed, and both of them are prejudiced against the choice of the spouse of the other. Julia is married to a fellow radical who, like her, celebrates and welcomes the French revolution whereas Lizzie gave into her passion for Diner, against her mother's warning. She vehemently defends him saying that Diner is a person that takes action; he makes his mark (Johnson, 2017). She further queries whether it is so wrong that he desires to build rather than destroy. Lizzie's view of her husband gradually changes as he begins to control her, forbidding her to go out while not allowing her to host visitors either. His pathological jealously grows so dangerously that on the few times that she does go out, he follows her on occasion. Lizzie and Diner have a tense marriage characterized by mistrust and coercion to which Lizzie responds rebelliously (Johnson, 2017).

Often, Lizzie is caught in a tug of war between her mother and husband as each tried to pull it in the hope that the other would let go without much success. Diner is particularly resentful of Diner and Augustus who have publicly shown their support for the revolution that is bleeding him dry (Johnson, 2017). In the end, he is forced out of business, and the unfinished palaces are said to be a spectacle of ruin. The situation worsens the cracks in Lizzie's and Diner's marriage as he grows even more irritable and violent towards her. Lizzie is forced to walk in eggshells around him, keeping away secrets that would invoke his sour moods. She also knows how to lift his spirits when he is low. When Lizzie's mother dies leaving behind a young kid, Augustus is unable to take care of it as he is so given to his work. Lizzie takes up the responsibility even though he husband doesn't let her rest over the matter. They seldom speak of Thomas which further reveals Diner's selfish attitude (Johnson, 2017).

The birdcage walk has been so beautifully woven, maintaining a balance between the darkness as well as the happy moments. The name itself is a confession of the happenings within the novel whereby Lizzie exists in a cage because of her marriage to a controlling man who aims to subdue her. She begins to question her husband's sequence of events as to how his first wife died while visiting family bit by bit. There are delicate twists where after the demise of Julia, the veil over Lizzie's face is lifted, and she has a moment of truth.


Johnson, C. (2017). Birdcage Walk.

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