Innocent or Guilty?
Grace Marks, the main character in Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood, is undoubtedly guilty. The evidence against her is way too much to consider innocence. Feeling sympathy towards Grace seems easy, especially since she tries to make it out to seem that she is the victim, but when looking at the facts only, it is obvious that the evidence all points against her. She has motives, Grace has left evidence, and her stories are not consistent with each other. The evidence, as well as the motives signify her guilt, not her being a victim of an unfair system.
Grace’s motives seem to be fairly simple, as they are based mostly on a love interest of Mr. Kinnear. Mr. Kinnear’s love interest is Nancy Montgomery, who Grace absolutely despises. This hatred has more to do than the fact that Nancy involved herself with Thomas Kinnear, but also because Grace considers her to have multiple personalities, signified by her alias Mary Whitney, and she hates that she is not blessed with the same social standing and wealth that Nancy Montgomery has reached. It is not just a crush for Grace, especially since there are signals that Mr. Kinnear has interest in Grace as well. The easiest solution for her to obtain his love would be to kill Nancy. Kinnear’s interest in Grace is shown when he takes time out of his day to make small talk with Grace. The best signal of Mr. Kinnear’s interest in Grace, however, would be when he asked her to go out on her birthday. Mr. Kinnear’s sly flirting, however, only increases Grace’s desire to be with him, and this will lead to his eventual death. The feelings are not one sided, as they are reciprocated by Grace based on her going out of her way to do things, for example delivering coffee to Mr. Kinnear, that make Nancy angry. Due to the time period, the idea of a mistress, and being born by anyone other than one’s wife is extremely unacceptable, and when Grace finds out Nancy is pregnant, she has another motive for killing her. A marriage between Nancy and Mr. Kinnear would appear imminent if she were to have his baby. Grace will not allow this to happen, and therefore she puts an end to any chance of it occurring by murdering Nancy and Mr. Kinnear.
In addition to having motives, Grace has done a poor job of covering up the murder, and can be considered guilty solely based on logical reasoning. Her love for Mr. Kinnear was clearly expressed in the text, but she acted completely unemotional after he was killed. It is thought that if her love was real, and she did not commit the murder, that Grace Marks would be a wreck after such a tragic event. Instead she acts calm and collected, and she even goes as far as wearing Nancy’s clothes and even taking her money, both being blatant signs of disrespect. Even more blatant would be the fact that Nancy was strangled, and Grace’s handkerchief was the “weapon.” Also, Grace had little or no love interest in James McDermott, her co-murderer. However, McDermott had interest in her, which Grace used to play him by giving him false hope that if he did what she said that he’d have a chance to be with her. This is exemplified by McDermott’s desire to please her, even though she had no interest in him. It was his goal to convince her what a good guy he was, and that hopefully that would make her want to be with him. McDermott also knows that Grace has sincere interest in Mr. Kinnear, which would make it easier for him to kill him in cold blood. Grace also used taunting as a device to get her way. She presented the idea of killing Kinnear and Nancy as challenges to McDermott, and he would try and complete these challenges to win her affection. For instance, Grace told McDermott that he was all bark and no bite. This statement may be the main reason that McDermott killed Nancy and Mr. Kinnear, as that allowed him to prove that he was daring enough activity to prove to Grace that he is not all talk and no action. Grace’s manipulative personality allowed her to use James McDermott like a pawn to carry out all of her dirty deeds.
Last but not least in proving Grace Mark’s guilt would be the fact that she cannot keep her stories straight. This should be obvious evidence against her because she would have no reason to lie unless she had something to cover up. If Grace was innocent she could tell her actual story, and not have to worry about remembering what she said in each previous lie. Grace had multiple variations of her story. When arrested, Grace played dumb, saying that she had no idea of Thomas Kinnear’s and Nancy Montgomery’s death, an obvious lie. The second story said that Grace was extremely frightened, and that this fear led to her fainting multiple times. People, such as the butcher, who saw her after the murder, however, said she went about her business as if nothing had happened, and that it didn’t look as if she was having any health problems. If she truly loved Thomas Kinnear, it is unrealistic that she seemed to be unfazed by it unless you had a part in the death, which Grace obviously did. Her lack of consistency in recounting what had happened casts doubt upon her honesty and character. How can it be believed when Grace changes her story to fit her needs? They cannot, and therefore she is guilty.
Grace Marks is a murderess, not a victim. The events that unfolded clearly she her guilt, and all the evidence points against her. It is hard to think anyone else besides McDermott and Grace performed the sinful murders, especially considering that both of their motives were based on love. I am of the opinion that Margaret Atwood is trying to show that people will do crazy things for love, even though that is not one of the main underlying themes in the book. Grace’s desire for Mr. Kinnear’s affection, as well as her other motives led her to commit the crime. The evidence left behind, as well as the evidence in how Grace conducted herself after the crime help prove her guilt, and her dishonest storytelling takes away all doubt of her guilt. She is a cold blooded murderess who let feelings get in the way of morals, and she should be charged as so.