The Golden Notebook

The Golden Notebook

by

Doris Lessing

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Dr West Character Analysis

In the yellow notebook, Dr West writes the medical advice column at Women at Home magazine. Ella manages his overflow, responding to letters that are insufficiently “medical” for his taste. At the beginning of Anna’s manuscript of The Shadow of the Third, Ella goes to a party at Dr West’s house, which is a slightly improved version of the dreary, identical, working-class houses that surround it. He later informs Ella that Paul Tanner went to Nigeria in order to get away from his mistress, who was a “flighty piece” (and, of course, was Ella herself). Dr West later tries to start an affair with Ella (she refuses) and ends up with Patricia Brent instead. A prototypical career-minded and emotionally tone-deaf man, Dr West is interested entirely in his own pleasure and does not care about how he affects the women in his life.
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Dr West Character Timeline in The Golden Notebook

The timeline below shows where the character Dr West appears in The Golden Notebook. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Notebooks: 1
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
...painter’s house, and those of other professionals cut off from the others living around them. Dr West is one of these professionals, and his wife meets Ella at the door. Mrs West... (full context)
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
...her letters and “these people you can’t do anything for,” a phrase she regrets using. Dr West jokes that Ella wants a revolution—the only way to “do anything,” of course. He votes... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Communism and Disillusionment Theme Icon
Compared to Dr West , Paul Tanner is far more understanding about Ella’s frustrating work—she shows him a letter... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
...that she is unwelcome. He only sends Ella one letter; then, he sends one to Dr West , who summarizes its contents to Anna: Paul says his family is going to join... (full context)
Love and Sex Theme Icon
...return from Nigeria, and awakens in tears, realizing that “she was the flighty piece,” and Dr West mentioned the phrase to her on purpose. She grows furious rather than depressed. She gets... (full context)
Fragmentation, Breakdown, and Unity Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
...of the same madness that first brought her so much joy in the affair. Soon, Dr West informs her that Paul has returned to Nigeria—this time without his wife. (full context)
The Notebooks: 3
Gender, Labor, and Power Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
...attention”—she sees the difference between living alone as a woman and living with another woman. Dr West tries and fails to start an affair with her; instead, he ends up with Patricia... (full context)
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Action, Freedom, and Moral Courage Theme Icon
...with Julia at a mutual friend’s house, and “their relations are chilly” until she mentions Dr West . Julia replies with a story about an actor from the theater who once came... (full context)