How does one feel about Kitty?

In just the beginning of The Return of the Soldier, we have encountered quite a few interesting characters, but what does one think of Kitty in particular? Is the author challenging us to sympathize with her? Kitty Baldry, wife of Chris Baldry, can be described as an upperclass woman with her life revolving around luxury, manners, and the comfort of the aristocratic life.  I do not think Kitty will ever be able to snap out of that lifestyle as proven that not even after the death of her child. This is why at this point in the novel I do not find her a sympathetic character and do not sympathize when her husband does not recognize her.

The author emphasizes society, like Kitty, that stayed back during WWI because their viewpoints do not change like a soldier’s viewpoints do. Their lifestyles remain relatively the same, while soldiers have been wounded with what they’ve seen.  Kitty is stuck in the mentality of making herself seem nice, important, and trying so hard to please others. She says, “I specially want to be kind to people while Chris is away. One wants to deserve well of Heaven” (pg 52). By those statements it becomes more clear to the reader that Kitty is self-seeking and wants to do life for the well-being of her, not because she actually cares for others. We have to remember that Chris has gone through a traumatic period in his life. He no longer sees the world like Kitty does, it is no longer about luxuries and what others think of him; he has experienced one of the worst wars humanity has ever known. A class system does not mean much to him. His perspective of everyday life is not the same anymore. The life he is used to now is not the life she is used to and she clearly does not seem to understand. When a soldier, in this case her husband, returns from war, the reader would think that a wife would be so attentive and give full attention to him. War is not something to brush off, but Kitty once again still has to make his arrival about her. Being worried and stuck in the mentality that appearance and class are still all that matter, she greets her husband in an extravagant unnecessary way. She restored her wedding dress wearing it with pearls around her throat and lets a longer chain of diamonds droop (pg 66). Chris not only arrives to a new surprising home, “up here …in this old place…how one hears the pines… this house is different” (pg 65), but thinks of another woman when he sees his wife.

The way Chris reacts to all the change around him since his arrival shows that his lifestyle has drastically changed and no longer has the ego of Kitty. Kitty in the mind of the child does not seem to have it and leaves “like a child who hasn’t enjoyed a party” (pg 71). How does one sympathize with acts like those?

 

Who will last longer?

At this point in the novel, Lady Audley’s Secret, has turned into a war between Lady Audley and Robert. Who has more power you may ask? The answer is they both have a different type of power they can defend themselves with. I believe Lady Audley has the power of wealth/status and Robert has the power of data, having information about her. But, if I were to choose one I would say Lady Audley has slightly more power.

In Chapter 11 volume 2, when Robert confronts her about his suspiciousness of Helen,
-the power of information/knowledge – Lady Audley tells him he is delusional and that they have the same hand writing. Although, it may be true and Lady Audley may be Helen Talboys, Robert may never get to the end of it because of the protection and status Lady Audley has. Being the wife of Sir Michael Audley can come a long way, “you are mad, and my husband shall protect me from your insolence” (pg 287). Being terrified of what this may lead to, Robert becomes afraid that Lady Audley will let everyone know that he is mad and decides to leave and spends the night at the inn. After this scene, the reader can see that Lady Audley has more power just by being the wife of Sir Michael because although the evidence that Robert has may be true, she is above him and that evidence doesn’t matter, or at least for now it doesn’t.

Lady Audley shutting him down, does not stop him from continuing to investigate. I picture Robert as very hard-headed and someone that will eventually get it his way. He goes his own way and Lady Audley still scared that he may open his mouth, follows with a plan, her power out beats his once gain. Lady Audley, sets the inn on fire. If motives could be a form of power, Lady Audley would win this power by her motives when it comes to burning down the inn where Robert is staying at. This war seems to be difficult to really be able to differentiate between who could win, but Lady Audley seems to be advancing quicker because she is quick to act (i.e., the fire). After this action the reader may ask themselves, will Robert take it? Will he uncover the truth? This war seems to be going back and forth with no clear ending, who will last longer?

What are you hiding, Phoebe?

In Braddon’s Lady Audley’s Secret, Phoebe Marks is described “as a person who never lost her individuality. Silent and self-contained, she seemed to hold herself within herself” (pg 163).  As readers, especially because of the description given, we should definitely pay close attention to Phoebe’s actions because she does seem a little skeptical. We get a feeling that she may be a good manipulator and may be up to some scheme as Robert suggests that Phoebe “is a woman who can keep a secret” (pg 164). What secret? Does he have a secret for her as well? We later learn during an encounter between Robert and Luke that Phoebe is extremely anxious and terrified of Luke saying something he is not supposed to say, that he may spill this “secret”, “you’re very anxious all of a sudden…I suppose you don’t want me to open my mouth to this gent” (pg 166).  How bad is that secret that she is willing to be living on the edge of being revealed, she can’t leave Luke Marks and is willing to suffer through the marriage, “her pale eyes were still paler from the tears she had shed, and the red rims which surrounded them: (pg 144). Luke seems to care more about money and for his own image than he does for her.

Does Phoebe know something about the handwritten letters? Is that why Lady Audley and her seem frustrated at times? Is that what Luke and her are holding back? We’ll just have to wait and see as the novel continues unfolding. At this point in the novel, I would say Phoebe is not a minor character, but not a major character either. She is in between the spectrum, but leaning more towards major character. I predict that by the end of the novel she will be a major character and play a big part in the plot of Lady Audley’s Secret. Who knows she may be Lady Audley’s shadow.

Why so many perspectives?

Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein, is told from three different point of views: Walton’s letters, Victor, and the monster allowing the reader to judge the story from different perspectives in which we are also given an opportunity to decide who to sympathize with: the monster or victor.

The novel is opened up by Walton narrating the story through letters to his sister and then shifts to Victor Frankenstein’s tale. The monster’s point of view is then given during an interruption of Victor’s tale. These different perspectives are each embedded within each individual’s story creating successive levels. The importance of this is that the reader gets to capture full details, emotions, feelings, and actions of each major character allowing them to interpret the story in their own way and identifying with the character. This novel really makes the reader think who they want to sympathize with as each story told by the narrators are deepened revealing more about their character and their past. Throughout the novel the minor characters, Elizabeth and Victor’s father, Alphonse, narrate parts of the story in the form of letters to Victor. One character the reader doesn’t really hear from is Henry Clerval. It would have been nice to know what Henry thought of Victor as Victor was creating this creature in a secretive form. I wonder if Henry ever suspected anything or if he ever noticed when Victor was acting weird and having off days, but didn’t question it? Henry was a really close friend that began following Victor’s footsteps, so Henry’s opinion as Victor faced guilt and the ways he viewed Victor could have been an interesting insight to the novel.

The novel, Frankenstein, is written in epistolary form framing the body of the story, beginning and ending with letters from Walton to his sister as he relates what happens as each encounter is told. The significance of the frame tale used by Shelley served as a frame narration to form the parallels between characters, Walton and the monster, in which they both suffered from loneliness and longed for friends creating the plot by their actions and requests formed (monster wanting a mate). As the reader returns to the end tale the theme of knowledge is emphasized. At the beginning of the novel, Victor is hungry for more and more knowledge, mostly science, leading him to the creation of the monster, but by the end of the novel his thirst and drive for knowledge killed him.

You can’t have it both ways: Justice or Injustice?

In Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein, Justine’s case is built upon the basis of justice. Justine, “a girl of merit [who] possessed qualities which promised to render her life,” (103) suffers during a just case and can only be saved if Victor speaks up and says what he knows.

Victor tells his family, “I know the murderer. Justine, poor, good Justice, is innocent,” (101) but is too afraid to mention anything in court because of the trouble of having to explain his monster and give evidence of his creation, “he was the murderer” (99). So instead, he “rushed out of the court in agony. The tortures of the accused did not equal [his] (106). Victor, worried, is torn between telling the truth and being questioned of his creation or letting Justine be free. It eats him alive feeling “the never-dying worm alive in [his] bosom, which allowed of no hope or consolation” (109). Having no hope for Justine parallels to the French Revolution just as there was no hope for justice.

Shelley uses this scenario to portray the criminal justice system during the French Revolution and the rights they had during that time period. A judge was the only one who had the power of making the ultimate decision, but in this case Victor carried the burden of justice and it was on his decision whether to speak up or not, that Justine would be saved. Unfortunately, Victor decides to be ungenerous and self-interested and does not speak up. Justine died and “the blood flowed freely in [Victor’s] veins, but a weight of despair and remorse pressed on [his] heart, which nothing could remove” (111). This leads to an injustice case that could have been proven innocent by the act of one individual.

Why lose her identity?

In Haywood’s novel, Fantomina; or, Love in a Maze, she constructs “the lady”, her main character, as “a young lady of distinguished birth, beauty, wit and spirit” (pg. 2566).  In the 18th century women did not have a sense of power and therefore, taking control over a man was not common. The novel does a great job showing the contrasts in power by stating, “He was bold; he was resolute. She fearful — confused, altogether unprepared to resist in such encounters” (pg. 2569).  They couldn’t really stand up for themselves and voice their opinions. Woman were seen as more obedient and saying “no” to men was not an ordinary option. Social class and identity were also big issues seen during that time period. Prostitutes were obviously part of the lower class, a class she was not, so the role of a prostitute was not fitting with her true identity. Men were able to notice that, especially one in particular, “her quality and reputed virtue kept him from using her with that freedom she now expected he would do” (pg. 2567).  Engaging in sexual activities while unmarried were not popular actions performed during the 18th century. Haywood constructs “the lady” as a virgin to follow with these social standards during that century.

Haywood though, is able to challenge this stereotype of a woman. She challenges the stereotype of a woman by creating different gender roles of that time to represent society. The lady reveals her characters by acting as varying prostitutes that are of lower class to her true identity. Becoming prostitutes was not a usual act her class participated in, “she was young, a stranger to the world, and consequently to the danger of it” (pg. 2567) but she gained “a curiosity in her to know in what manner these creatures were addressed” (pg. 2567). As she witnessed from afar how much power these prostitutes had, it made her want to experience this persona. Through her different personalities, she eventually loses her virginity in which her true identity would not have acted upon. Haywood also challenges the stereotype of the woman by the wardrobe she wears to receive the attention of men, such as “a night-gown laced and adorned” (pg. 2571). She is now seen as a desperate woman trying to get the attention of men losing her “beauty, wit, and spirit.”

What about the Duchess?

Browning’s Poem, “My Last Duchess”, is told in a jealous tone of voice by Alfonso II, the Duke of Ferrara, as he recalls his last marriage to the Duchess before she became deceased. Throughout the poem the reader concludes that the Duke was unhappy with his marriage mainly because of the way his Duchess would portray herself and act toward others, but were those really her intentions? How would their relationship change if told from the Duchess perspective?

As the Duke describes his wife’s painting to the servant, a spot on her cheek resembling joy, is described (line 14-15). This description provides a positive image of the Duchess from the start. She can be pictured as a happy woman who is always open to life’s wonders, but the Duke grasps it in a negative way imagining scenarios that may have never crossed the Duchess mind such as the reason for that spot of joy is because of the painter’s compliments towards her (lines 15-21). The duke himself stated that she was a woman whom was “too easily impressed: she liked whate’er” (line 23) and was always thankful “with anybody’s gift” (line 34). Based on those two statements, the reader can conclude that the Duchess was not someone hard to please and was extremely nice, smiling at everyone with the same smile. That smile given “no doubt, whene’er I passed her; but who passed without much the same smile?” (line 43-45) was not a smile the Duke was pleased with. The Duke acted in a selfish way when she shared the same amount of love towards him and towards other. He always wanted to be the only one and wanted more for just himself.

But if told from the Duchess perspective, the reader, like myself, would not see such a negative picture of envy painted across the poem. Based on the Duchess actions and descriptions, she seemed like a very bubbly person with a welcoming and friendly personality. The Duke sometimes took her actions to the extreme and imagined scenarios that may not have even crossed the Duchess mind when she was performing them. I think their relationship would have had change if told from the Duchess perspective in the sense that the Duke would be much more thankful for her and we would get her perspective as a happy woman eager to be serving her husband. Their relationship would be a much more lovable one and if told from her side, I don’t think we would sense hate or jealousy from her side of the story because she already isn’t portrayed that way by the Duke, much less would she portray herself in that matter if she were to be describing her own self.

God vs Evil?

In the longer version of The Chimney Sweeper, two visions are presented in a dream: the Chimney Sweep’s daily life and heaven, contrasting a black and white vivid image with a hidden message. The poem opens up with the narration of a chimney sweeper recalling his childhood, “my father sold me” (line 2) and describes the activities he did, “so your chimneys I sweep and in soot I sleep” (line 4) indicating to the reader that he slept in soot collected throughout the day. This leads the narrator to tell the story of Tom Dacre, another chimney sweeper. Tom’s hair before it was shaved was said to be “curl’d like a lamb’s back” (line 6) using a simile not only to compare Tom’s hair to a lamb’s white wool but Tom himself to a sweet, quiet, shy lamb as in the Bible a lamb represents peace and purity. The color white too is used to represent pureness and innocence so when Tom is told, “the soot cannot spoil your white hair” (line 8) this can be said that the life of a chimney sweeper will transform him without removing his innocence deep inside if all white is removed. In the third stanza when the dream is described, it is revealed that what tries to destroy the whiteness is the black, but we discover that the white cannot be truly destroyed.

The coffins of black that had “all of them lock’d up” is used to portray freedom, childhood, and love taken away, portraying death. But in the dream comes “an Angel, who had a bright key” (line 13) painting freedom across them “as he open’d the coffins and set them all free” (line 14) giving a feeling as if all sins were washed away. What felt like a different feeling and opened up the light to the world, were the “green plains, laughs, and shine in the sun” (line 15-16) that allowed them to see a future ahead of them, and that gave them courage to “rise upon clouds and sport in the wind” (line 18) as if God were calling out to them from heaven, from the WHITE clouds, by name. This implied that liberty, love, and joy were given back each time Tom and his peers would “be good boys” (line 19).

The effect of including these two different versions of life is that they demonstrate that God can be one’s safe haven and there is no need to fear harm (line 24).  Their religious beliefs allowed them to fulfill their duties as they woke up each morning and “brush[ed] to work” (line 22). Perseverance was the hidden message discovered to be; “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans” (Proverbs 16:3). If these chimney sweepers keep their eyes on the Lord and complete their duties, no harm will arise and they will be greatly taken care of.

How is England functioning without Milton?

Wordsworth’s London, 1802 poem is composed of an octave and a sestet describing England’s cry for change. In the octave the main problem he lays out is that England has become selfish and is too caught up in power to care about “manners, virtue, and freedom” (line 8). England is in desperate need of Milton to give them those qualities back. The poem opens up crying for Milton, “Milton! Thou should’st be living at this hour” (line 1). The author wishes for Milton to be living again and lists symbols to characterize attributes that England is currently failing at. These symbols include: “altar, sword, and pen” (line 3). The altar symbolizes the lack of religion, the sword represents battle, and the pen defines the absence of education and intelligence. These symbols paint an unhealthy and poor environment for the English making England feel motionless as if they were in “stagnant waters” (line 3).  England natives are not happy and continue to long for Milton, “raise us up, return to us again” (line 7). So what solution does Wordsworth propose to this?

In the sestet, Wordsworth describes Milton’s character and proposes that Milton could be the one to improve the English setting due to his outstanding qualities. He says, “thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart: thou had a voice whose sound was like the sea” (lines 9-10) implying that Milton was a perfect, humble human being who could easily bring peace into the world, a trait England was lacking. Milton traveled through life “in cheerful godliness” (line 13) taking care of the “the lowliest duties” (line 14). He was portrayed as as a selfless man and an individual that always carried a positive attitude remaining happy in all he was asked to do. The reader can see that Milton’s qualities were not present in the English and were in desperate need of help, wondering how well was England able to function without Milton during this time period?

Does Adam have a plan?

In Book Seven of Paradise Lost, Adam is presented as an eager character willing to learn about the creation of God, but is that what Adam really intending to learn? As the story was told, “[Adam] was filled with admiration and deep muse to hear of things so high and strange” (7.51-53) not being able to imagine how the world was created and how Raphael took part in his creation. Doubt filled his mind as he questioned how Heaven had so much hate and how was “war so near the peace of God” (7.55). This was when confusion started rising and evil filled his thoughts. Did he really think the world was such a beautiful creation or was he trying to gain knowledge for manipulation and scheming? Adam became unhappy with his concerns and questioned more.

He presents himself as a curious person with no bad intentions, or at least that is what the reader may assume. But as conversation progresses, Adam asks, “yet concerned our knowing,…what may no less perhaps availe us known?” (7.82-85) wondering if there were any other beneficial information he could know about. He is willing to learn more making me wonder if he knows of something and wants reassurance from Raphael or is he trying to get information to plan a scheme. I wonder this because he says, “if unforbid thou may’st unfold what we, not to explore the secrets ask of his eternal empire but the more we know” (7.94-97). Adam makes sure to sound pleasing, interested, and respectful as he asks this which makes me think he is being fake because of his properness compared to the beginning of the conversation. He makes sure to add that he does not want to sound nosey about God’s secrets to his creation which is weird because don’t we all want to know God’s secrets? At the beginning of the conversation Adam was confused and conflicted as “doubts in his heart arose” (7.61) when he heard the story. So what doubts did Adam have if he now sounds like he is under a plan?

If the reader did not have the narrator, Adam’s request would seem difficult to interpret. It would be hard to tell if Adam truly wanted to know more about the creation or if he was up for some revenge. With the help of the narrator, the answer to “did Adam really think the world was such a beautiful creation or was he in the process of manipulation” becomes more clear by his actions, input, and questions.

Is Caliban really Caliban?

In Act 2 of The Tempest, Caliban reminisces the bad things Prospero has done to him. The reader is able to tell that Caliban is tired of Prospero and would do anything to leave his wing in order to gain ownership of the island. In Act 2 Scene 2, Trinculo and Stephano are introduced and become “acquaintances” with Caliban after Trinculo seeks shelter with him and after Stephano makes both of them drink. When Caliban realizes that they are not spirits, he tries to portray his best image to Stephano making himself seem like the most obeying, respectful, welcoming man by offering to show them around the island. He tells Stephano, “I’ll show thee every fertile inch o’th’ island, and I will kiss thy foot. I prithee, be my god.” (2.2 154-155) The reader comes to a realization that Caliban is putting up this front for Stephano in order to get on his good side so Stephano and Trinculo can murder Prospero. This would lead to them taking over the island and Caliban no longer being under Prospero’s order. Caliban is constructing a scheme to figure out a way to manipulate them in order to reach his ultimate goal, owner of the island.

Act 3 Scene 2 opens up with Caliban receiving the position of lieutenant. Caliban leads them though a plan as to how they will kill Prospero and gain ownership of the island. This shows that Caliban has a form of power and will be able to manipulate Stephano and Trinculo after reaching this goal. He tells them that Stephano will be able to become king of the island and be able to keep Miranda, daughter of Prospero, but I foreshadow that Caliban will somehow find a way to get rid of Stephano and Trinculo after reaching this mission. After all, Caliban is the one that wants full ownership and will receive it by obeying and manipulating. Stephano does not sense any of this because as Caliban said, “As I told thee before, I am subject to a tyrant, a sorcerer, that by his cunning hath cheated me of the island.” (3.2 46-48) Stephano assumes that Caliban is just trying to get out Prospero’s sight for being cheated on and mistreated.