Hawksmoor Literary Elements

Hawksmoor Literary Elements


Historical fiction

Setting and Context

The first part of the story takes place in London in the 17th century and the second part of the story takes place in London in the 20th century.

Narrator and Point of View

The story is told from the perspective of a first-person narrator. In the first part of the book, the narrator is Nicholas Dryer and in the second part of the book, the story is told from the perspective of Inspector Nicholas.

Tone and Mood

The tone used in the story is a violent and yet detached one.

Protagonist and Antagonist

The antagonist is Nicholas Dryer and the protagonist is Inspector Nicholas.

Major Conflict

The major conflict is between the forces of the past and of the present that try to solve those conflicts.


The novel reaches its climax when Dryer feels as if he will be discovered and becomes erratic, killing everyone and behaving in a reckless manner.


In the first pages of the book, the narrator thinks to himself how his assistant will never be able to enjoy life if he follows in his master’s footsteps. This foreshadows the later events that will be revealed about the narrator and main character.


When the narrator describes the two Walters as being harmless and unaware of the ways their masters are affected by the events in their lives is an understatement as it is proved in the book.


In the second chapter of the book, the narrator describes a boy named Thomas who follows a strange man into the tunnels beneath the church. During his time in the tunnels, he hears a voice telling him to climb higher and higher. This may allude to the fact that Thomas died because something similar happened to another boy who climbed the church and fell to his death.


An important image is the way the characters present the churches in the 20th century. The churches are seen as being threatening and imposing. Because of this, many avoid getting near them out of fear. The image of the church is thus important because it shows just how much the image of the church could influence those who saw it.


A paradoxical element in the novel is the way in which Dryer felt as if his assistant was harmless but the letter sent by Walter scared him in a way he could not understand.


In the first sentences of the first part of the book, the narrator draws a parallel between erecting a building with that of writing a book. The narrator compares the two processes and shows how there are many similarities between the two and how they are on a fundamental level almost the same. This parallelism has the purpose of highlighting just how complex the two actions are and how in both cases there is a need for hard work and patience.

Metonymy and Synecdoche

The term Scriptures is used in the book by Dryer in a general way to make reference to the books he considered as being worth studied and to make reference to a collection of books rather than just a single book.



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