Andrina, George Mackay Brown

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Andrina Critical Essay

The short story “Andrina”, by George Mackay Brown introduces the idea of betrayal right from the beginning. The writer successfully uses a number of techniques to convey this idea, examples of these techniques being; characterisation, structure, narration and the writer’s use of language. The reader easily becomes involved with the story, due to Brown’s excellent use of said techniques and portrayal of the characters.

The story focuses on the protagonist, Torvald, as he is visited by the mysterious Andrina who cares for him throughout winter. However, when Andrina fails to appear after several days, Torvald – realising he knows nothing about the girl – goes in search of her, only to find nobody else on the
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Torvald’s feelings of betrayal are ironic given the way he treated Sigrid all those years ago.

The writer’s cyclical structure of the short story successfully explores the theme of betrayal; the outer story exploring Andrina’s betrayal of Torvald, the inner story exploring Torvald’s betrayal of Sigrid. Torvald is a man who is quite selfish and very quick to judge. The reader sees this from the outer story and then again from the inner story:

Love had been killed but many ghosts had been awakened.”

The past is beginning to come back to haunt Torvald at this point in the story. The words “Love had been killed” links to the inner story as it could refer to the killing of the love of Torvald and Sigrid. However, it could also be a metaphor for Torvald’s anger and feelings of betrayal towards Andrina at the fact that she has not been to see him in days. The words “many ghosts had been awakened” relates to the inner story as it suggests that Torvald is beginning to think a lot about his past with Sigrid, and the terrible things he did are coming back to haunt him. The words could also suggest that Andrina is one of the “ghosts” that have been awakened and has come back just so she can see Torvald. The reader gets the impression that
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