In “The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole” we can find many examples of how Sue Townsend uses Adrian’s language to reflect an image of his personality. When reading the diary, I found that Adrian has many characteristics in his way of being, as any other person would; only that Adrian makes them evident through his writing. There are certain features of Adrian’s personality that are striking by just reading several lines from any part of the book.
When Adrian is writing his New Year’s resolutions, I found that he doesn’t have a “genuine” lexis; he uses a lot of clichi?? d terms from society, such as “I will help the blind across the road” or “I will help the poor and ignorant”.
Sue Townsend uses this to give signs that Adrian takes ideas or concepts from the outside world and uses them as his own. To a certain extent, it also shows his lack of originality.
She then makes this more evident by Adrian’s sudden changes in register when talking about a certain event; When talking about school lunches, the first thing he says is “School dinners are completely crap now”, this is typical language of a teenager, but he then finishes the paragraph with something quite formal he probably heard from someone else “It won’t be our fault if we grow up apathetic and lacking in moral fibre”.
This is the type of thing you would probably hear from his head teacher and not from Adrian.
His goal is to sound intellectual, yet he makes it evident that he is trying too hard and that the language he is using is not completely his. This is the basis for Adrian Mole’s idiolect. Sue Townsend uses Adrian’s characteristic clichi?? s and changes in register to form his idiolect. When Adrian goes on a trip to see his mother in Sheffield he describes the people on the train while he is looking for a seat; He first describes the image of smokers: “All the filthy smokers were crammed together choking and coughing.
They were a rough-looking, noisy lot so I hurried through their small carriage holding my breath” This is a very negative image, and the use of language is quite aggressive, he is also basing his description on a “smoker stereotype” he probably heard from his grandmother. He then moves on to describe his type of people, “The non-smoking carriages seemed to have a quieter type of person in them”. Adrian immediately adapts his language to suit his approval of non-smokers. Adrian shifts his language like this throughout the whole text.
Sue Townsend also uses Adrian’s comments in order to show how dramatic he is. A typical Adrian Mole comment is the fact that he always says “somebody will get done” when someone does something wrong or something he doesn’t approve of; as we can see in this example: “My father got drunk on cherry brandy at the party last. If the RSPCA hear about it he will get done” Its evident that Adrian is overdramatic in many parts of his diary, but from an example like this we can also conclude that Sue Townsend characterises him as being an authoritarian person as he is very worried about the RSPCA.
Another factor of Adrian’s personality that Townsend brings out is his egocentrism; he is always describing how the things happening around him affect him, not the other people; “It was cough, cough, cough last night. If it wasn’t one it was the other. You’d think they show some consideration after the day I had” In this part of the diary, his parents are ill, yet Adrian only thinks about how he is being affected in a negative way.
There are many other details of Adrian’s personality that Sue Townsend brings to life in this diary, but another interesting aspect of the diary is the way in which she keeps the tone of diary in the book, and yet manages to maintain a story line which is easy to follow. “Fort William today. Ben Nevis was another disappointment” Here Adrian is writing in the context of his vacation to Scotland. Here the anaphoric reference illustrates how Adrian is thinking only about his vacation, because when he mentions “Fort William today”, the reader immediately knows he means “We visited Fort William today”.
We can only know he means this by keeping in mind that he is visiting a new place every day. In this sentence he also uses ellipsis, missing out the pronoun and verb. It is very clear that Sue Townsend uses many tools to bring Adrian to life. They are all very effective, but some have more impact than others. I find that Sue Townsend makes some aspects of Adrian’s personality very clear. I think that Adrian’s use of language and certain words tells us a lot about his personality.
The fact that he uses malapropisms such as saying “anorexic” instead of “dyslexic” makes it obvious that Adrian is absorbed by his teenage life and is trying to use words he doesn’t really know how to use to suit his “intellectual status” and yet keep the adolescent context. Another thing that one gets the impression of is the fact that Adrian tries to make himself sound smarter than he really is, yet being ignorant of many things. An example is the way he is completely ignorant of the fact that Mr. Lucas and his mother are having an affair, when they are showing signs of it all the time.
Perhaps this is proof of how Adrian is self absorbed in his world and it is difficult for him to see beyond “appearances”. Another thing that Townsend succeeds in is contextualising the adolescent period of Adrian’s life. Adrian’s worries are evident; his spots, being heard by the world (writing to the BBC, publishing a newsletter etc), the size of his “thing”, getting a job, having a girlfriend, money etc. Townsend puts all these factors of adolescent life into the story in a very appropriate form, and the result is a very cohesive story.
She also makes very clear the period in time in which Adrian is living by referring to Margaret Thatcher, the different political parties and movements, the “change” of the role of women in society, the Falklands etc. She doesn’t just mention these, but manages to apply to them to the story in a way that makes them very useful; “Britain is at war with Argentina!!! I am overcome with excitement. Half of me thinks it is tragic and the other half of me thinks it is dead exciting” What Adrian wrote here is showing both the “intellectual” point of view referring to war as something tragic, and the other side of an excited teenager.
“The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole” succeeds in exposing the personality of a fictional character through the use of language and context. One can learn a lot about the people and events of the time in which Adrian is living, the important stereotypes of that society and the worries and “thoughts” of the people living at that time. It’s very easy to compare the world of today, and the world in which Adrian Mole was living in at the time; this is a very useful tool to obtain knowledge about a very wide variety of things.