A Hermeneutic Approach to a Socio-cultural Study of Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach

Mina Abbasiyannejad, Rosli Talif


Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach is the story of conflicts at various levels. In this novella, the author shows how different factors, particularly cultural norms and sexual conflicts can affect people's lives and lead them down a certain path. Using a hermeneutic approach, this paper discusses the influential socio-economic, political, and cultural factors that had great impact on people's lives. McEwan illustrates how circumstances and settings influence people’s livelihoods and how the socio-economic status of the characters plays an important role in determining their future conditions. This essay shows the influence of culture, including the social climate of the time, on the society's attitudes towards sexuality, class differences, legislation, contraceptives, abortion and—most of all—on the personal lives of the characters in On Chesil Beach.



Class and sexual repression, contraception and abortion, identity, sexuality as taboo

Full Text:



“A short history of the pill.” Web. 23 July 2010.

Barry, Peter. Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002. Print.

Dallmayr, Fred. “Hermeneutics and Inter-Cultural Dialog: Linking Theory and Practice.” Ethics & Global Politics 2 1 (2009): 23-39. Print.

De Waard, Marco. “Agency and Metaphor in the Neo-Victorian Imagination: The Case of Ian Mcewan.” REAL: Yearbook of Research in English and American Literature 25 (2009): 145-61. Print.

Ferriter, Diarmaid. Occasions of Sin: Sex and Society in Modern Ireland. London: Profile Books, 2009. Print.

Glasier, Anna, et al. “Emergency Contraception in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.” Family Planning Perspectives 28 2 (1996): 49-51. Print.

“History of Abortion Law in the UK.” Web. 6 August 2010.

Kakutani, Michiko. “Past and Present: Imperfect, Tense.” The New York Times. Web. 1 June 2007. Print.

Malcolm, David. Understanding Ian McEwan. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2002. Print.

McEwan, Ian. Atonement. London: Vintage, 2001. Print.

McEwan, Ian. On Chesil Beach. Random house: London, 2007. Print.

Morton, Christine. “Abortion in the USA and the UK.” Gender and Society 20 5 (2006): 680-81. Print.

Reynolds, Jenny, and Penny Mansfield. “The Effect of Changing Attitudes to Marriage on Its stability.” High Divorce Rates: The State of the Evidence on Reasons and Remedies. Research Series 1 (1999): 1-38. Print.

Roberts, Ryan. “A Thing One Does”: A Conversation with Ian McEwan. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2008. Print.

Rose, Charlie. “A conversation with Ian McEwan.” 2007. Web. 20 August 2010.

Russell, Stephen. “Life Course Antecedents of Premarital Conception in Great Britain.” Journal of Marriage and Family 56 2 (1994): 480-92. Print.

Siegel, Robert. “Ian McEwan's 'On Chesil Beach.’” National Public Radio. Web. 1 June 2007.

Weinberg, M.S., R.G. Swensson, and S.K. Hammersmith. “Sexual Autonomy and the Status of Women: Models of Female Sexuality in US Sex Manuals from 1950 to 1980.” Social Problems 30 3 (1983): 312-24. Print.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.7575/ijalel.v.1n.3p.29


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2012-2022 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD

International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the journal emails into your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.