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05-13-2010, 08:19 PM
: 10 - 11 - 2007
: 14,922
: 23
  is a glorious beacon of light



Lines Written in Early Spring by William Wordsworth Lines Written in Early Spring by William Wordsworth


Lines Written in Early Spring by William Wordsworth

I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.

Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And 'tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.

The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure:
But the least motion which they made
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.

The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.

If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature's holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man


This poem is a ballad which is included in the collection named Lyrical Ballads, a volume published in 1798 along with Coleridge, who had become his friend, although this volume neither had Coleridges nor Wordsworths name as authors. A second edition was published in 1800 under Wordsworth name which supposed a problem between both authors which threw them apart for a while. In the edition of 1802 Wordsworth wrote a preface as well as some more poems were included. In this preface Wordsworth attempts to explain the poems contained as experiments in which the use of language is different from the classic poems and the complexity and highness of it. He talks about writing poetry for men in the language of men. As he expresses in his preface to the third edition:
Whats a poet? [] He is a man speaking to men. [] . Lyrical Ballads, 1802 Volume I, preface.

namely to illustrate the manner in which our feelings and ideas are associated in a state of excitement. Lyrical Ballads, 1802 Volume I, preface.
His aim with these poems was to talk about situations in common life, that is why he chose to communicate with an easy language as well as he preferred rural life as, this, was part of his idea that nature surroundings are the ideal place where man could find himself and his essence, and because in this rural environment these passions could be framed in the beautiful Nature. In Nature ambits, far from social vanity, men communicate their thoughts and feelings in a simple language, without the ornamentation used in previous times in poetry where deep human questions where dealt with. It is possible then, that, under Wordsworths look, philosophical language, the one used to express human desires and thoughts is more suitable as easier it is since it tries to communicate emotions men have experienced in their inner beings before expressing them. The purpose of the poems is:

Because he []considers man and nature as essentially adapted to each other and the mind of man as naturally the mirror of the fairest and most interesting qualities of nature. Lyrical Ballads, 1802 Volume I, preface.

Understanding this state of excitement as the state reached by human mind in contact with nature, the representation of what may be seen as God. And a poet is that who knows well about this Nature, the universe, and what surrounds human kind and expresses the passions and emotions it causes on men in a pleasant way to others.

The poem we have here is a ballad composed in six quatrains; six stanzas of four lines, being each line composed by four iambic feet. The rhyme scheme is ABAB, CDCD, EFEF, GHGH, DIDI, JDJD.

I HEARD a thousand blended notes, A
While in a grove I sate reclined, B
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts A
Bring sad thoughts to the mind. B

In the first quatrain Wordsworth looks at Nature and through his views sad thoughts come to his mind. Here he expresses his conviction in that knowledge of reality is reached through emotions and intuitions that Nature generates at being observed by man. Being Nature the real representation of reality and godliness as well.

To her fair works did Nature link C
The human soul that through me ran; D
And much it grieved my heart to think C
What man has made of man. D

In the second stanza the poet uses a figure of speech called personification by which he gives Nature the ability to create at her will elements, what he calls her fair works, and make the human soul that lives in the poet feel linked with them. This is a way of humanizing Nature by giving her the feature of being a creator which could be seen as an attribution to the Nature of the concept of God, understood as that who performs reality at his own will. In third and fourth verses, the poet expresses the affliction this knowledge causes to his soul, and he wonders about the direction taken by mankind, as he does again at the end of the poem.

Through primrose tufts, in that green bower, E
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths; F
And 'tis my faith that every flower E
Enjoys the air it breathes. F

In the third quatrain he observes Nature, at its peak, in all its splendour and beauty. He tells about its dynamic development when he describes how the periwinkle trains its branches through the grass. He also displays his implication in this development of natural events expressing his desire for the flowers to rejoice at their existence.
In the third and fourth verses we can see a personification again, when flowers are endowed with particular human abilities such breathing and enjoying.

The birds around me hopped and played, G
Their thoughts I cannot measure:-- H
But the least motion which they made G
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.

He continues to observe nature and describes the birds playing and hopping around him, he says he cannot measure their thoughts. This again shows how Wordsworth gives human attributes to the elements of Nature being the action of thinking and making elaborate thoughts part of the human condition. But it shows too, how, through his only observation, he cannot reach the knowledge of their thinking. Although by his observations he supposes his last movement was one expressing pleasure.

The budding twigs spread out their fan, D
To catch the breezy air; I
And I must think, do all I can, D
That there was pleasure there. I 20

Again, he provides will to events occurring in Nature: the newborn branches expand to get the air they need, and, once more, attributes to elements the capacity to feel, and enjoy their existence. These opinions derive from his long observations of this place and its nature.

If such be Nature's holy plan, D
Have I not reason to lament J
What man has made of man? D
If this belief from heaven be sent, J

He wonders if the will and the ability to enjoy the simple development of life by every natural element which he observes are sent from heaven, and next he considers whether it may be as well a holy plan of Nature. He gives again, as seen in the second stanza, godly attributes to Nature, as creator of life and death, as the force compelling the world. She is able to plan and, moreover, to develop a holy plan. If this holy plan is created deliberately, with its harmony and beauty, the humankind, with their wars and their unnatural activities, have moved away from what stills can be glimpsed in natural events, and it is because of this he regrets what man has made of man

All the poems of Wordsworth revolve around Nature. After he met Coleridge they jointly published a collection of poems entitled Lyrical Ballads, which marked the beginning of a new kind of poetry. The present poem Lines written in Early Spring appeared for the first time in Lyrical Ballads.
The poem has been written by the poet in a thoughtful mood. The poet William Wordsworth has himself expressed the view that he was sitting by the side of a stream when he composed this poem. The poet in this poem contrasts the happiness of the objects of Nature with the unhappiness experienced by man. He expressed sorrow that man has finished the scope of his own happiness by ignoring Nature.
In the first stanza, the poet describes the experience of being in the company of Nature. He says that while he was sitting under the shade of a group of trees in a relaxing mood, he heard a medley of music. At that time he was in a very cheerful mood, a time when happy thoughts came to his mind. But soon some sad thoughts followed.
The poet says that the beautiful sights of nature served as a bridge between the inner conscience/soul of man and God. But the poets heart is pained to think of the treatment given to man by his fellow human beings. Thus, the poet wants to convey the idea that man suffers because of his drifting away from Nature.
In the next stanza, the poet elaborates the types of flowers growing at that place. He says that there were bunches of primrose (rose growing in that shady haunt). A blue creeper flower, periwinkle was curled around the primrose. The poet believed that in such a pleasant atmosphere every flower enjoyed the fragrant air there.
The poet then, talking about the birds there, says that they were playing and moving here and there. The poet could not judge their thoughts but felt that even their smallest movement portrayed/displayed the blissful mood they were in.
There were growing branches of trees which seemed to be spreading themselves out to enjoy the pleasant breeze. The poet says that, however, hard he may try he can only think that there was only joy and happiness there.
In the last two stanzas, the poet in conclusion gives two suppositions: that his belief of joy being present there (the shady haunt) is divine; and that the communion of man with nature is the plan of God (Nature). If these two are true then he definitely has a reason to mourn over the mans fate brought on him as a result of living with his fellow human beings away from nature.
Have I not reason to lament
What Man has made of Man?
Hence, in this poem the poet wants that there should be a perfect harmony between man and nature. But then the poet expresses sadness over the fact man has thoughtlessly destroyed his own peace of mind and joy of life



05-13-2010, 08:20 PM
: 10 - 11 - 2007
: 14,922
: 23
  is a glorious beacon of light

Animal Farm

Animal Farm

Plot Summary

Chapter I
As Animal Farm opens, Mr. Jones, the owner of Manor Farm, is drunkenly heading to bed. The animals gather in the barn as Old Major, the prize boar, tells them that he has thought about the brutal lives that the farm animals lead under human bondage and is convinced that a rebellion must come soon, in which the animals throw off the tyranny of their human oppressors and come to live in perfect freedom and equality. Major teaches the animals Beasts of England, a song which will become their revolutionary anthem.

Chapter II
A few days later, Major dies. The animals, under the leadership of the pigs, begin to prepare for the Rebellion. Two of the pigs, Snowball and Napoleon, elaborate Major's ideas into a complete system of thought known as Animalism. The Rebellion comes much sooner than anyone thought, and the animals break free of Jones's tyranny and drive the humans from the farm. Snowball and Napoleon paint over the name "Manor Farm" on the gate, replacing it with "Animal Farm." They also paint the basic principles of Animalism on the wall of the barn:
1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
2. Whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend.
3. No animal shall wear clothes.
4. No animal shall sleep in a bed.
5. No animal shall drink alcohol.
6. No animal shall kill any other animal.
7. All animals are equal.
Chapter III
The farm passes through an idyllic time in which the animals work joyously together and make a great success of the harvest. The animals all attend weekly planning meetings at which the decisions for the future of the farm are made. After realizing that some of the other animals cannot read or remember the Seven Commandments, Snowball boils these commandments down to a single maxim: "Four legs good, two legs bad." But all of the milk and apples on the farm, it seems, are now to be reserved for the pigs alone.

Chapter IV
News of the Rebellion at Animal Farm begins to spread, and animals across the countryside are singing Beasts of England. The neighboring farmers, led by Mr. Pilkington of Foxwood and Mr. Frederick of Pinchfield Farm, attempt to retake Animal Farm by force. The animals, led by Snowball, successfully fight off the invaders in what comes to be known as the Battle of the Cowshed. Snowball is decorated as an Animal Hero, First Class

Chapter V
Snowball and Napoleon fight a number of battles over policy, culminating in the controversy over a windmill which Snowball has designed and thinks should be built on the farm. Napoleon argues that the animals need to concentrate on food production. As the debate reaches fever pitch, Napoleon calls in nine dogs which he raised to be loyal only to him. The dogs chase Snowball from the farm. Napoleon declares an end to the planning meetings. Squealer, another pig who serves as Napoleon's functionary, convinces the other animals that Snowball was a criminal. A few days later, Napoleon declares that the windmill will be built after all, and Squealer explains that the idea had belonged to Napoleon from the beginning, but that Snowball had stolen the plans.

Chapter VI
The animals' workload is repeatedly increased throughout the following year as construction begins on the windmill. Napoleon announces that the farm will begin trading with the neighboring farms, which seems to violate one of the early resolutions passed by the animals, but Squealer convinces them otherwise. The pigs, moreover, have moved into the farmhouse, and it is rumored that they are sleeping in the beds. The animals check the barn wall, vaguely remembering an injunction against this but the commandment says that "No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets." When the windmill is knocked down during a storm, Napoleon blames its destruction on Snowball and pronounces a death sentence on this traitor. The animals begin the laborious process of rebuilding.

Chapter VII
Rumors begin to fly that Snowball is sneaking into the farm at night, causing small bits of mischief. Moreover, it is asserted that certain of the animals on the farm are in league with Snowball. Napoleon orders a full investigation. A meeting is held in which the animals are invited to confess their connections with Snowball. All the animals that do confess are promptly ripped to pieces by Napoleon's dogs. The others are shocked at such bloodshed and try to comfort themselves by singing Beasts of England, only to be told that the song has now been abolished.

Chapter VIII
In the days after the purges, the animals seem to recall a commandment prohibiting the killing of animals, but when they check the barn wall, they discover that it reads "No animal shall kill any other animal without cause." Napoleon bargains to sell Mr. Pilkington a pile of timber. The animals do not trust Pilkington, but they prefer him to Frederick, who, it is whispered, is torturing his animals; in fact, Napoleon declares Frederick to be an enemy of the farm. But several days later it is announced that he has sold the timber to Frederick, and now Pilkington is the enemy. Frederick fools Napoleon by giving him forged banknotes for the timber, and, with a group of men, attacks Animal Farm and destroys the windmill. Squealer, however, informs the animals that the battle was a victory for the animals. Shortly after, the pigs discover a case of whiskey in the basement of the farmhouse, and a raucous celebration is heard throughout the night. The next day, it is announced that Napoleon is near death. When he recovers, the animals discover that the commandment which they thought said that no animal should drink alcohol in fact reads "No animal shall drink alcohol to excess."
Chapter IX
That winter, rations are repeatedly reduced on the farm, for everyone but the pigs. The animals are kept content, however, through an ever-increasing number of formal ceremonies. An old cart-horse, Boxer, who has worked tirelessly for Animal Farm, suddenly takes ill. Napoleon announces that arrangements have been made to treat Boxer in a hospital in town. However, the truck that arrives to take Boxer away belongs to a horse slaughterer, and the animals erupt in a great outcry. They are pacified by Squealer, who tells them that, in fact, the truck has been purchased by the veterinarian but has not been repainted.

Chapter X
The years pass, and the animals lead harder and harder lives, though at least no animal is lorded over by a human. Then, one day, Napoleon emerges from the house on two legs. The sheep's traditional chant of "Four legs good, two legs bad" has now, somehow, been changed to "Four legs good, two legs better." And the Seven Commandments have now all been erased from the barn wall and replaced with a single Commandment: "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others." The pigs begin reading newspapers, wearing clothes, and carrying whips in the fields. They call for a meeting between themselves and the human owners of the surrounding farms, at which Napoleon announces that the name of Animal Farm has been changed back to Manor Farm. The other animals peek in the windows of the farmhouse as this meeting progresses and are stunned to discover that they cannot tell the difference between the men and the pigs at all


Benjamin, a donkey, is "the oldest animal on the farm, and the worst tempered." He is a sad cynic who believes that whatever the animals do, conditions on the farm will remain equally as bad. Although he usually refuses to read, he is the one who reads the side of the truck that comes to take Boxer away and realizes it belongs to the horse slaughterer. Benjamin is moved to action, but he is too late to his friend. Benjamin represents the cynical intellectual who refuses to get involved in politics and so fails to affect meaningful change. His cynicism is much like Orwell's own attitude toward life.

One of the two cart-horses on the farm, Boxer's biggest triumph is his work on the windmill. Despite his strength, he is sensitive to the feelings of others. During the Battle of the Cowshed, when he accidentally stuns a stable-boy with blows from his hoofs, he is remorseful: "I have no wish to take life, not even human life." Boxer has such blind faith in Napoleon that he refuses to question anything the pig says, reasoning, "If Comrade Napoleon says it, it must be right." He constantly repeats the slogans: "I will work harder" and "Napoleon is always right." In the end, once Boxer's health fails and he is no longer able to work, Napoleon sends him to the horse slaughterer. In Orwell's tale, he represents the common working class who unwittingly accept their base existence, because they believe by hard work they will get ahead and that their leaders will protect them. Boxer's lung trouble seems to refer to Orwell's own bouts with tuberculosis.

A "stout, motherly mare," Clover is one of the two cart-horses on the farm, and one of Boxer's closest friends. She tries to lead the other animals to see events as they really are but is often frustrated in her attempts. She questions the change in the fourth commandment of Animalism, yet she accepts Squealer's explanation of why it seems different. When Benjamin sounds the alarm that Boxer is being taken to the horse slaughterer, Clover runs after the van but is unable to stop it. Like Boxer, she represents the working class, particularly those who should realize they are being exploited but do not because of their own laziness or apathy.

Mr. Frederick
Mr. Frederick is a neighbor of Mr. Jones who runs the farm called Pinchfield. His farm is better run than Pilkington's, but he is always involved in law suits. In Orwell's allegory, Frederick represents Germany and its leader, Adolf Hitler. Like Hitler, Frederick is treacherous, and after signing an agreement with Napoleon he attacks Animal Farm, destroying the animals' windmill

Mr. Jones
Mr. Jones, the owner of Manor Farm, gets the animals thinking about revolution when he gets drunk and is unable to perform all of the chores around the farm. When, in his drunkenness, he stays overnight away from the farm, and neither he nor his men feed the farm animals, the animals revolt and chase the humans out of the farm. Jones tries to retake the farm but is unsuccessful. He vanishes "to another part of the country" and dies there in "an inebriates' home." With his common surname Jones could be any farmer, and his farm any farm. In Orwell's political allegory, he represents Nicholas II, the last tsar of Russia, before the communists took over the government.

Described only as "a poet," Minimus composes a poem in honor of Napoleon, and a patriotic song that replaces Beasts of England. Minimus represents artists who are used by totalitarian states for propaganda purposes.

A vain white mare whose main concerns when Old Major calls for a Rebellion are having sugar lumps to chew and ribbons for her mane. She eventually flees the farm to work for humans. She represents those whose lust for material things blinds them to the importance of freedom.

A tame raven who belongs to Mr. Jones, Moses represents organized religion. He is tolerated by the pigs because he takes the animals' minds off their troubles by preaching to them about a happy land called the Sugarcandy Mountain.

A white goat (named after an actual animal that Orwell kept at his farm), Muriel reads better than most of the other animals and is called on to read the Commandments for them.

A "large, rather fierce-looking Berkshire boar," Napoleon becomes the leader of the animals after Snowball is chased off the farm. He, Snowball, and Squealer are the ones who organize the thoughts proclaimed by Old Major into the principles of Animalism.
Soon after the revolt of the animals, Napoleon takes nine puppies from their mothers to "educate" them. The puppies end up being his personal bodyguards and secret police force. He grows increasingly removed from the other animals, dining alone and being addressed as "our Leader, Comrade Napoleon." Like Joseph Stalin, the Soviet leader who had negotiated with England while making a secret deal with Hitler, Napoleon negotiates with one of Jones's neighbors, Mr. Pilkington, while making a secret agreement with Mr. Frederick, another one of Jones's neighbors. Stalin had a reputation for arranging the death of anyone who stood in his way. After Napoleon chases his former friend Snowball off the farm, he has countless animals killed who confess to being Snowball's allies. Near the end of the novel, he stands on two legs, just like the men he had previously denounced, and announces that Animal Farm's name will revert back to Manor Farm. His name is reminiscent of the historical Napoleon, who became the all-powerful, autocratic Emperor of the French. Like his French counterpart, Napoleon seems to embody the idea that with power comes corruption

Old Major
A "prize Middle White boar," Old Major calls the animals together in the novel's opening scene to explain to them his vision of a world ruled by animals. Although quite old for a pig, he is described as "still a majestic-looking pig." He concludes his speech by teaching of the animals the song, Beasts of England. It becomes the rallying cry of the Rebellion. Three nights after the meeting he dies in his sleep. He represents Karl Marx, the German political philosopher who wrote, with Friedrich Engels, the Communist Manifesto (1848) that called the workers of the world to unite against the ruling classes.

Mr. Pilkington
Mr. Pilkington is a neighbor of Mr. Jones who runs the farm called Foxwood. His farm is overgrown with woodland, for he enjoys hunting and fishing over farming. In Orwell's allegory, Pilkington represents England.

The sheep function as a group and, therefore, have no individual names. They are taught to bleat the latest slogan for hours at a time: first, "four legs good, two legs bad," later, "four legs good, two legs better." They are the "yes-men" in every society who blindly repeat party slogans without knowing what they are saying
A "young boar" who, with Napoleon and Squealer, helps to codify Old Major's ideas into the commandments of Animalism. Orwell describes him as "quicker in speech and more inventive" than Napoleon. He is the one who organizes the animals into various committees: "the Egg Production Committee for the hens, the Clean Tails League for the cows, the Whiter Wool Movement for the sheep, and various others." He also plans the defense of the farm against the humans which proves useful when Jones and his friends try to retake the farm. Snowball shows his expert use of military strategy during the attack which becomes known as the Battle of the Cowshed and is later awarded a medal. Snowball also comes up with the idea of building a windmill to produce electricity. He represents the historical figure of Leon Trotsky. Like Trotsky, who was exiled from Russia by his former partner Stalin, Snowball is eventually run off the farm by Napoleon. After he is gone, Napoleon uses him as a scapegoat, blaming him for everything that goes wrong on the farm. In an allegory of the bloody purge trials that took place in the Soviet Union during the 1930s, the animals confess to scheming in various ways with Snowball for the downfall of the other pigs. Whoever confesses is slaughtered.

"A small, fat pig" known for being a smooth talker, Squealer reportedly "could turn black into white." He is the propaganda chief for the pigs, the equivalent of the Soviet party newspaper Pravda (which means "Truth" in Russian) in Orwell's allegory. Squealer has an explanation for everything, including why the pigs need to drink the milk the cows produce, why the commandments of Animalism seem different, and why the "ambulance" called to take Boxer to the hospital has a sign for a horse slaughterer on its side. By the story's end, he is so fat that his eyes are mere slits. Always on the look out for a new slogan, he teaches the sheep a new song to explain why the pigs are suddenly walking on their hind legs. Like any good propaganda boss, he is able to not only explain the present, he is also an expert at rewriting the past. He makes the animals believe, for example, that Snowball never had received the order of "Animal Hero, First Class." But, of course, he had.

Mr. Whymper
An attorney, Mr. Whymper handles negotiations between the pigs and the outside world. He represents an intermediary between warring countries who is only too happy to do what is expedient without thinking about whether it is right


Language and Meaning
In Animal Farm, his allegory of the Soviet Revolution, Orwell examines the use of language and the subversion of the meaning of words by showing how the powerful manipulate words for their own benefit. As a journalist, Orwell knew the power of words to serve whichever side the writer backed. In the novel, Snowball is a quick talker who can always explain his way out of any situation. When the birds object to the maxim, "Four legs good, two legs bad," that the pig teaches the sheep, he explains that the bird's wing "is an organ of propulsion and not of manipulation. It should therefore be regarded as a leg." The birds do not really understand this explanation, but they accept it. Orwell particularly comments on the abuse of language with his character Squealer, "a brilliant talker," who acts as an unofficial head of propaganda for the pigs. Like Joseph Goebbels, who bore the title of Nazi party minister of propaganda and national enlightenment during World War II, Squealer "could turn black into white." This is also reminiscent of the official newspaper of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Pravda, which was often used to rewrite the past. (Ironically, its title means "Truth.") When a bad winter forces a reduction in food rations to the animals, Squealer calls it a "readjustment." In a totalitarian state, language can be used to change even the past. Squealer explains to the animals "that Snowball had never as many of them had believed hitherto received the order of 'Animal Hero, First Class.'"

God and Religion
In the novel religion is represented by Moses, the tame raven. The clergy is presented as a privileged class tolerated by those in power because of their ability to placate the masses with promises of rewards in the afterlife for suffering endured on Earth. Moses is afforded special treatment not available to the other animals. For example, he is the only animal not present at the meeting called by Old Major as the book opens. Later, the reader is told the other animals hate the raven because he does not do any work; in fact, the pigs give him a daily ration of beer. Like Lenin, who proclaimed religion was the opiate of the people, Orwell sees organized religion as another corruptible institution which serves to keep the masses tranquil. Moses preaches "the existence of a mysterious country called Sugarcandy Mountain, to which all animals went when they died;" in that distant land "it was Sunday seven days a week, clover was in season all the year round, and lump sugar and linseed cake grew on the hedges."

Human Rights
In Animal Farm, Orwell comments on those who corrupt the idea of human rights by showing how the animals deal with the issue of equality. In chapter one, Old Major interrupts his speech appealing to the animals for a Rebellion against the humans by asking for a vote on whether "wild creatures, such as rats and rabbits" should be included in the statement "All animals are comrades." Although at this point, the animals vote to accept the rats, later distinctions between different types of animals become so commonplace that the seventh commandment of Animalism is officially changed to read, "All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others." A number of societies have historically "voted" that portions of their populations were not equal because of their faith, their skin color, or their ancestry.

Class Conflict
Orwell saw firsthand how being a member of a lower class singled him out for abuse at St. Cyprian's, a school which attracted most of its students from the British upper class. He had also seen how the British ruling class in Burma had abused the native population. In Animal Farm the animals begin by proclaiming the equality of all animals. The classless society soon becomes divided as preferential treatment is given to the pigs. First, they alone are allowed to consume the milk and the apples which Squealer claims they do not really want to take, but must to preserve their strength. Later, the other animals are told that they must "stand aside" if they meet a pig coming down a path and that all pigs had "the privilege of wearing green ribbons on their tails on Sundays." By this time, not even an explanation from Squealer is necessary; the hierarchy in the society is wellestablished. A pointed remark by Mr. Pilkington of Foxwood, who represents Great Britain in Orwell's satire, puts the author's distaste for classes in perspective. When Mr. Pilkington and other farmers meet with Napoleon in the novel's last scene, Pilkington chokes with amusement as he says to the pigs, "If you have your lower animals to contend with, we have our lower classes." Orwell knew that with power came the abuse of power and only a vigilant citizenry could prevent such abuses.

Orwell uses Animal Farm to express his deeply held political convictions. He stated in his 1946 essay, "Why I Write," "every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for Democratic socialism." Although the novel is written in direct response to his bitter disappointment that the Russian Revolution, instead of establishing a people's republic, established an essentially totalitarian state, its continued relevance is possible because his criticism stands against any and all totalitarian regimes. The only protection the average citizen has against a similar tyranny developing in his own country is his refusal to blindly follow the crowd (like the sheep), the repudiation of all spurious explanations by propaganda sources (like Squealer), and diligent attention to all government activity, instead of faithfully following those in power (like Boxer).

Truth and Falsehood
In the novel, the animals are often forced to examine the meaning of truth in their society. Again and again, truth becomes simply what Snowball, and later Squealer, tells them. Any questions about past events that do not seem to match the pigs' version of those events are either discounted or explained away. For example, when some of the animals are executed after they confess to various crimes against Napoleon, some of those left alive remember that the Sixth Commandment of Animalism was "No animal shall kill any other animal." When Clover asks Muriel to read the commandment, however, it is discovered that it reads, "No animal shall kill any other animal without cause." "Somehow or other," the narrator comments, "the last two words had slipped out of the animals' memory." Similarly, when the pigs get into a case of whiskey and get drunk, Muriel looks up at the barn wall where the Seven Commandments had been written and sees that the Fifth Commandment reads, "No animal shall drink alcohol to excess. " She thinks the animals must have forgotten the last two words of this commandment as well. She comes to believe that the original event of the writing of the commandments on the wall did not happen the way she and other animals remember it. With this theme Orwell challenges the Soviet state's and any totalitarian state's method of controlling public opinion by manipulating the truth and, in particular, rewriting history


Point of View
The third person point of view traditionally used for fables and fairy tales is the one Orwell chooses for Animal Farm, his tale of an animal rebellion against humans in which the pigs become the powerful elite. The storyteller in this case, as is also typical of the fable, tells the reader only what is needed to follow the story and the bare minimum about each character, without overt commentary. Orwell focuses on the bewilderment of the simple beasts the horses, birds, and sheep in the face of their manipulation by the pigs, eliciting sympathy from the reader.

Animal Farm takes place at an unspecified time on a British farm near Willingdon, a town that is mentioned only in passing. The farm is first called Manor Farm, later renamed Animal Farm and, finally, Manor Farm once more. Manor which can mean the land overseen by a lord, the house of a lord, or a mansion associates the farm with the upper, or ruling, class. Orwell focuses entirely on activities taking place at the farm, except for a brief scene in Willingdon when Jones asks his neighbors to help him. By keeping a narrow focus, Orwell makes the location in England unimportant.

The narrator in the novel functions as a storyteller, telling a fable. Orwell gives the fable ironic overtones by using a naive narrator, one who refuses to comment on events in the novel that the reader understands to be false. After Muriel tells Clover that the fourth commandment of Animalism reads, "No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets, " the narrator declares: "Curiously enough, Clover had not remembered that the Fourth Commandment mentioned sheets; but as it was there on the wall, it must have done so." Both the reader and the narrator know the truth of the matter that the words of the commandment have been changed but the narrator does not admit it. The tension between what the narrator knows but does not say and what the reader knows is dramatic irony

Dramatic Irony
With dramatic irony an audience, or reader, understands the difference between the truth of a situation and what the characters know about it, while the characters remain ignorant of the discrepancy. For instance, Squealer explains that the van in which Boxer was taken to the hospital formerly belonged to a horse slaughterer. He further explains that the veterinarian who now uses it did not have the time to paint over the horse slaughterer's sign on its side, so the animals should not worry. The narrator says: "The animals were enormously relieved to hear this." The reader, who assumed the truth when the van originally appeared to carry the horse away, feels doubly outraged by Squealer's explanation.

Fairy Tales
The fairy story, or fairy tale, is a type of folk literature found all over the world. It involves a highly imaginative narrative told in a simple manner easily understood and enjoyed even by children. While they do not have a moral, fairy tales instruct by placing their characters in situations that they have to overcome; children who hear the tales can imagine what they would do in a similar situation. Fairy tales, also, often involve animals that can talk. Orwell gave his work the subtitle "A Fairy Story." The reader can surmise that the story told in Animal Farm is universal, with implications for every culture or country, and that it will be easily understood. Using "fairy story" to describe his novel is another bit of irony, because the political story behind the tale is far from the light entertainment the term implies.

A work that uses humor to criticize a weakness or defect is called a satire. The satirist makes whatever he is criticizing look ridiculous by a variety of methods, often through irony or other types of biting humor. The satirist hopes to change the behavior he is satirizing. Orwell ridicules the socalled achievements of the Russian revolution in a number of ways: by comparing its proponents to animals, by developing irony through the use of the naive narrator, and by allowing each animal or group of animals to stand for one human trait or tendency that he criticizes.

A fable is a short, imaginative narrative, usually with animal characters, that illustrates a moral. The characters often embody a specific human trait, like jealousy, to make fun of humans who act similarly. Orwell uses details to make his animal characters seem like real animals: the cat vanishes for hours at a time; Molly the mare likes to have her nose stroked. The animals also represent human traits or characteristics: the pigs are selfish powergrabbers, the sheep are dim-witted "yes-men," and the horses are stouthearted workers. Animal Farm, like the traditional fable, is told in a simple, straightforward style.

In an allegory, characters and events stand for something else. In this case, the characters in the novel stand for significant figures in twentieth-century Russian history. Orwell makes the characters easily identifiable for those who know the historic parallels, because he gives each one a trait, or has them perform certain tasks, that are like that of a historical figure. Old Major is identified with Karl Marx because, just as Old Major develops the teachings that fuel the Animal Rebellion, Marx formulated the ideas that spawned the Russian revolution. Napoleon and Snowball, both pigs, stand for Russian leaders Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky. Stalin and Trotsky had a falling out much like
Napoleon and Snowball do. Events from history the revolution itself and the Moscow purge trials of the 1930s also appear in allegorical form in the novel

05-13-2010, 08:22 PM
: 10 - 11 - 2007
: 14,922
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  is a glorious beacon of light

Heart of Darkness
Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness


Joseph Conrad, 1902

Plot Summary

Chapter I
Literally speaking, the action of Heart of Darkness is simply the act of storytelling aboard a ship on the river Thames around the turn of the twentieth century. An unnamed narrator, along with four other men, is aboard the anchored Nellie waiting for the tide to turn. They trade sea stories to pass the time. One of these men is Charlie Marlow, whose story will itself be the primary narrative of Heart of Darkness. Before Marlow begins his tale, however, the unnamed narrator muses to himself on a history of exploration and conquest which also originated on the Thames, the waterway connecting London to the sea. The narrator mentions Sir Francis Drake and his ship the Golden Hind, which travelled around the globe at the end of the sixteenth century, as well as Sir John Franklin, whose expedition to North America disappeared in the Arctic Ocean in the middle of the nineteenth century.
As the sun is setting on the Nellie, Marlow also begins to speak of London's history and of naval expeditions. He, however, imagines an earlier point in history: he sketches the story of a hypothetical Roman seaman sent north from the Mediterranean to the then barely known British Isles. This is Marlow's prelude to his narration of his own journey up the Congo river, and he then begins an account of how he himself once secured a job as the captain of a river steamer in the Belgian colony in Africa. From here on the bulk of the novella is Marlow's narration of his journey into the Congo.
Through an aunt in Brussels, Belgium's capital, Marlow manages to get an interview with a trading company which operates a system of ivory trading posts in the Belgian Congo (formerly Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). After a very brief discussion with a Company official in Brussels and a very strange physical examination by a Company doctor, Marlow is hired to sail a steamer between trading posts on the Congo River. He is then sent on a French ship down the African coast to the mouth of the Congo.
From the mouth of the Congo Marlow takes a short trip upriver on a steamer. This ship leaves him at the Company's Lower Station. Marlow finds the station to be a vision of hell it is a "wanton smashup" with loads of rusting ancient wreckage everywhere, a cliff nearby being demolished with dynamite for no apparent reason, and many starving and dying Africans enslaved and laboring under the armed guard of the Company's white employees. Marlow meets the Company's chief accountant, who mentions a Mr. Kurtz manager of the Inner Station for the first time and describes him as a "very remarkable person" who sends an enormous amount of ivory out of the interior. Marlow must wait at the Lower Station for ten days before setting out two hundred miles overland in a caravan to where his steamer is waiting up the river at the Central Station.
After fifteen days the caravan arrives at the Central Station, where Marlow first sees the ship which he is to command. It is sunk in the river. Marlow meets the manager of the Central Station, with whom he discusses the sunken ship. It will, they anticipate, take several months to repair. Over the course of the next several weeks Marlow notices that the rivets he keeps requesting for the repair never arrive from the Lower Station, and when he overhears the manager speaking with several other Company officials he begins to suspect that his requests are being intercepted; that is, that the manager does not want the ship to get repaired for some reason.

Chapter II
Overhearing a conversation between the manager and his uncle, Marlow learns some information which begins to make some sense of the delays in his travel. Kurtz, chief of the Inner Station, has been in the interior alone for more than a year. He has sent no communication other than a steady and tremendous flow of ivory down to the Central Station. The manager fears that Kurtz is too strong competition for him professionally, and is not particularly interested in seeing him return.
Marlow's steamer, however, finally gets fixed and he and his party start heading up river to retrieve Kurtz and whatever ivory is at the Inner Station. On board are Marlow, the manager, several employees of the Company, and a crew of approximately twenty cannibals. The river is treacherous and the vegetation thick and almost impenetrable throughout the journey. At a place nearly fifty miles downstream from the Inner Station they come across an abandoned hut with a sign telling them to approach cautiously. Inside the hut Marlow discovers a tattered copy of a navigation manual in which undecipherable notes are written in the margins.
Nearing the Station in a heavy fog, the ship is attacked from the shore by arrows, and the passengers "pilgrims," Marlow calls them fire into the jungle with their rifles. Marlow ends the attack by blowing the steam whistle and scaring off the unseen attackers, but not before his helmsman is killed by a spear. Marlow imagines that he will not get to meet the mysterious Kurtz, that perhaps he has been killed, and suddenly realizes something:
"I made the strange discovery that I had never imagined him as doing, you know, but as discoursing. I didn't say to myself, 'Now I will never see him,' or, 'Now I will never shake him by the hand,' but, 'now I will never hear him.' The man presented himself as a voice. Not of course that I did not connect him with some sort of action. Hadn't I been told in all the tones of jealousy and admiration that he had collected, bartered, swindled, or stolen more ivory than all the other agents together? That was not the point. The point was in his being a gifted creature, and that of all his gifts the one that stood out preeminently, that carried with it a sense of real presence, was his ability to talk, his words the gift of expression, the bewildering, the illuminating, the most exalted and the most contemptible, the pulsating stream of light, or the deceitful flow from the heart of an impenetrable darkness."
When they finally reach the Inner Station they are beckoned by a odd Russian man who is a sort of disciple of Kurtz's. He turns out also to have been the owner of the hut and navigation manual Marlow found downstream. He speaks feverishly to Marlow about Kurtz's greatness

Chapter III
The Russian explains to Marlow that the Africans attacked the ship because they were afraid it was coming to take Kurtz away from them. It appears that they worship Kurtz, and the Inner Station is a terrifying monument to Kurtz's power. The full extent of Kurtz's authority at the Inner Station is now revealed to Marlow. There are heads of "rebels" on stakes surrounding Kurtz's hut and Marlow speaks of Kurtz presiding over "unspeakable" rituals. When Kurtz is carried out to meet the ship by this time he is very frail with illness he commands the crowd to allow him to be taken aboard without incident. As they wait out the night on board the steamer the people of the Inner Station build fires and pound drums in vigil.
Late that night Marlow wakes up to find Kurtz gone, so he goes ashore to find him. When he tracks him down, Kurtz is crawling through the brush, trying to return to the Station, to the fires, to "his people," and to his "immense plans." Marlow persuades him to return to the ship. When the ship leaves the next day with the ailing Kurtz on board the crowd gathers at the shore and wails in desperate sadness at his disappearance. Marlow blows the steam whistle and disperses the crowd.
On the return trip to the Central Station Kurtz's health worsens. He half coherently reflects on his "soul's adventure," as Marlow describes it, and his famous final words are: "The horror! The horror!" He dies and is buried somewhere downriver on the muddy shore.
When Marlow returns to Belgium he goes to see Kurtz's fiance, his "Intended." She speaks with him about Kurtz's greatness, his genius, his ability to speak eloquently, and of his great plans for civilizing Africa. Rather than explain the truth of Kurtz's life in Africa, Marlow decides not to disillusion her. He returns some of Kurtz's things to her some letters and a pamphlet he had written and tells her that Kurtz's last word was her name. Marlow's story ends and the scene returns to the anchored Nellie where the unnamed narrator and the other sailors are sitting silently as the tide is turning.


The Aunt
The Aunt uses her influence to help Charlie Marlow secure an appointment as skipper of the steamboat that will take him up the Congo River. Echoing the prevailing sentiments of the Victorian day, the Aunt speaks of missions to Africa as "weaning the ignorant millions from their horrid ways."
The Chief Accountant
The Chief Accountant, sometimes referred to as the Clerk, is a white man who has been in the Congo for three years. He appears in such an unexpectedly elegant outfit when Marlow first encounters him that Marlow thinks he is a vision. Both the Chief Accountant's clothes and his books are in excellent order. He keeps up appearances, despite the sight of people dying all around him and the great demoralization of the land. For this, he earns Marlow's respect. "That's backbone," says Marlow.

The Doctor
The Doctor measures Marlow's head before he sets out on his journey. He say he does that for everyone who goes "out there," meaning Africa, but that he never sees them when they return. The Doctor asks Marlow if there's any madness in his family and warns him above all else to keep calm and avoid irritation in the tropics

The Fireman
The Fireman is an African referred to as "an improved specimen." He has three ornamental scars on each cheek and teeth filed to points. He is very good at firing the boiler, for he believes evil spirits reside within and it is his job to keep the boiler from getting thirsty.

The Foreman
The Foreman is a boilermaker by trade and a good worker. He is a bony, yellow-faced, bald widower with a waist-length beard and six children. His passion is pigeon flying. By performiing a jig and getting Marlow to dance it with him, he shows that the lonely, brutalizing life of the interior of Africa can make people behave in bizarre ways.

Captain Fresleven
Fresleven, a Danish captain, was Marlow's predecessor. He had been killed in Africa when he got into a quarrel over some black hens with a village chief. He battered the chief over the head with a stick and was in turn killed by the chief's son. Fresleven had always been considered a very quiet and gentle man. His final actions show how drastically a two-year stay in Africa can alter a European's personality.

The Helmsman
A native, the Helmsman is responsible for steering Marlow's boat. Marlow has little respect for the man, whom he calls "the most unstable kind of fool," because he swaggers in front of others but becomes passive when left alone. He becomes frightened when the natives shoot arrows at the boat and drops his pole to pick up a rifle and fire back. The Helmsman is hit in the side by a spear. His blood fills Marlow's shoes. His eyes gleam brightly as he stares intently at Marlow and then dies without speaking.

The Intended
The Intended is the woman to whom Kurtz is engaged and whom he had left behind in Belgium. One year after his death, she is still dressed in mourning. She is depicted as naive, romantic, and, in the opinion of Victorian men of the day, in need of protection. She says she knew Kurtz better than anyone in the world and that she had his full confidence. This is an obviously ironic statement, as Marlow's account of Kurtz makes clear. Her chief wish is to go on believing that Kurtz died with her name on his lips, and in this, Marlow obliges her.

The Journalist
The Journalist comes to visit Marlow after Marlow has returned from Africa. He says Kurtz was a politician and an extremist. He says Kurtz could have led a party, any party. Marlow agrees and gives the journalist a portion of Kurtz's papers to publish.

Mr. Kurtz
Kurtz, born of a mother who was half-English and a father who was half-French, was educated in England. He is an ivory trader who has been alone in the jungles of Africa for a long time. No one has heard from him in nine months. The Company Manager says Kurtz is the best ivory trader he has ever had, although he suspects him of hoarding vast amounts of ivory. Marlow is sent to rescue him, although he has not asked for help. The word "kurtz" means "short" in German, but when Marlow first sees the man, seated on a stretcher with his arms extended toward the natives and his mouth opened wide as if to swallow everything before him, he appears to be about seven feet tall. Though gravely ill, Kurtz has an amazingly loud and strong voice. He commands attention. Kurtz, previously known to Marlow by reputation and through his writings on "civilizing" the African continent, is revealed upon acquaintance to be a dying, deranged, and power-mad subjugator of the African natives. Human sacrifices have been made to him. Rows of impaled human heads line the path to the door of his cabin. Kurtz is both childish and fiendish. He talks to the very end. His brain is haunted by shadowy images. Love and hate fight for possession of his soul. He speaks of the necessity of protecting his "intended" and says she is "out of it," a sentiment Marlow will later echo. Kurtz's final words, uttered as he lies in the dark waiting for death, are: "The horror! The hoffor!" With this utterance, Kurtz presumably realizes the depth to which his unbridled greed and brutality have brought him. That realization is transferred to Marlow, who feels bound to Kurtz both through the common heritage of their European background and the infinite corruptibility of their natures as men

Kurtz's Cousin
Kurtz's Cousin is an organist. He tells Marlow Kurtz was a great musician. Marlow doesn't really believe him but can't say exactly what Kurtz's profession was. Marlow and the Cousin agree Kurtz was a "universal genius."

The Manager
The Manager, a man of average size and build with cold blue eyes, inspires uneasiness in Marlow, but not outright mistrust. He is an enigma. He is smart, but cannot keep order. His men obey him but do not love or respect him. The Manager has been in the heart of Africa for nine years, yet is never ill. Marlow considers the Manager's greatness to lie in that he never gives away the secret of what controls him. Marlow speculates that perhaps there is nothing inside him, and maybe that is why he is never ill. The Manager says Kurtz is the best agent he ever had; yet he also says Kurtz's method is unsound and that he has done more harm than good to the Company. When Marlow discovers his ship is in need of repair, the Manager tells him the repairs will take three months to complete. Marlow considers the man "a chattering idiot," but his three-month estimate turns out to be exactly right.

The Manager's Boy
The Manager's "boy," an African servant, delivers the book's famous line, "Mistah Kurtz he dead."

The Manager's Uncle
The Manager's Uncle, a short, paunchy man whose eyes have a look of "sleepy cunning," is the leader of the group of white men who arrive at the Central Station wearing new clothes and tan shoes. The group calls itself the "Eldorado Exploring Expedition," and uses the station as a base from which to travel into the jungle and plunder from its inhabitants. Marlow observes that they steal from the land "with no more moral purpose at the back of it than there is in burglars breaking into a safe." The Manager's Uncle and the Manager refer to Kurtz as "that man."

Charlie Marlow
Marlow, a seaman and a wanderer who follows the sea, relates the tale that makes up the bulk of the book. He is an Englishman who speaks passable French. He sits in the pose of a preaching Buddha as he tells a group of men aboard the Nellie, a cruising yawl in the River Thames, the story of his journey into the interior of the Congo. Marlow had previously returned from sailing voyages in Asia and after six years in England decided to look for another post. He speaks of his boyhood passion for maps and of his long fascination with Africa, that "place of darkness." Through the influence of his aunt, Marlow is appointed captain of a steamer and charged with going up river to find Kurtz, a missing ivory trader, and bring him back. Marlow says he is acquainted with Kurtz through his writing and admires him. His trip upriver is beset with difficulties. Marlow encounters several acts of madness, including a French man-of-war relentlessly shelling the bush while there appears to be not a single human being or even a shed to fire upon. Later, he comes upon a group of Africans who are blasting away at the land, presumably in order to build a railway, but Marlow sees no reason for it, there being nothing in the way to blast. Everywhere about him, he sees naked black men dying of disease and starvation.
Revulsion grows within him over the white man's dehumanizing colonization of the Congo. It reaches a peak when Marlow finally meets Kurtz and sees the depths of degradation to which the man has sunk. Nevertheless, Marlow feels an affinity toward Kurtz. He sees in him both a reflection of his own corruptible European soul and a premonition of his destiny. Although Kurtz is already dying when Marlow meets him, Marlow experiences him as a powerful force. When Kurtz says, "I had immense plans," Marlow believes the man's mind is still clear but that his soul is mad. Marlow takes the dying Kurtz aboard his steamer for the return trip down river. He feels a bond has been established between himself and Kurtz and that Kurtz has become his "choice of nightmares." When Marlow hears Kurtz's last words, "The horror! The horror!", he takes them to be Kurtz's final judgment on his life on earth. Seeing a kind of victory in that final summing up, Marlow remains loyal to Kurtz. One year after Kurtz's death, Marlow visits Kurtz's fiance, who has been left behind in Brussels. He finds her trusting and capable of immense faith. Marlow believes he must protect her from all the horrors he witnessed in Africa in order to her soul. When the girl asks to hear Kurtz's final words, Marlow lies and says he died with her name on his lips. Marlow then ceases his tale and sits silently aboard ship in his meditative pose.

The Narrator
The Narrator remains unidentified throughout the book. He tells the reader the story Charlie Marlow told to him and three other men (the captain or Director of the Companies, the accountant, and the lawyer) as they sat aboard the becalmed Nellie on London's River Thames, waiting for the tide to turn. The Narrator is an attentive listener who does not comment on or try to interpret the tale. He is, instead, a vessel through which Marlow's story is transmitted, much as Conrad is a vessel through whom the entire book is transmitted. When Marlow finishes speaking, the Narrator looks out at the tranquil river and reflects that it "seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness."

The Official
The Official demands that Marlow turn over Kurtz's papers to him, saying the Company has the right to all information about its territories. Marlow gives him the report on "Suppression of Savage Customs," minus Kurtz's final comment recommending extermination, and says the rest is private. The Official looks at the document and says it's not what they "had a right to expect."

The Pilgrim
The Pilgrim is a fat white man with sandy hair and red whiskers. He wears his pink pajamas tucked into his socks. He cannot steer the boat. He assumes Kurtz is dead and hopes many Africans, whom he and all the other white people refer to as "savages," have been killed to avenge Kurtz's death. Marlow tells the Pilgrim he must learn to fire a rifle from the shoulder. The pilgrims fire from the hip with their eyes closed.

The Pilgrims
The Pilgrims are the European traders who accompany Marlow into the jungle. They fire their rifles from the hip into the air and indiscriminately into the bush. They eventually come to look with disfavor upon Marlow, who does not share their opinions or interests. When they bury Kurtz, Marlow believes the Pilgrims would like to bury him as well.

The Russian
The Russian is a twenty-five-year-old fair-skinned, beardless man with a boyish face and tiny blue eyes. He wears brown clothes with bright blue, red, and yellow patches covering them. He looks like a harlequin a clown in patched clothes to Marlow. As he boards Marlow's boat, he assures everyone that the "savages" are "simple people" who "meant no harm" before he corrects himself: "Not exactly." The Russian dropped out of school to go to sea. He has been alone on the river for two years, heading for the interior, and chatters constantly to make up for the silence he has endured. The Towson's Book on seamanship, which Marlow had discovered previously, belongs to the Russian. Marlow finds the Russian an insoluble problem. He admires and envies him. The Russian is surrounded by the "glamour" of youth and appears unscathed to Marlow. He wants nothing from the wilderness but to continue to exist. The Russian describes Kurtz as a great orator. He says one doesn't talk with him, one listens to him. He says Kurtz once talked to him all night about everything, including love. "This man has enlarged my mind," he tells Marlow. The Russian presents Marlow with a great deal of information about Kurtz, chiefly that Kurtz is adored by the African tribe that follows him, that he once nearly killed the Russian for his small supply of ivory, and that it was Kurtz who ordered the attack on the steamer to scare them away.

The Savages
"Savages" is the blanket term the white traders use to refer to all African natives, despite their differing origins. The savages range from the workers dying of starvation and disease at the Outer Station to the cannibals who man Marlow's boat to the tribe who worships Kurtz. For the most part Marlow comes to consider all the natives savages, although he expresses some admiration for the cannibals, who must be very hungry but have refrained from attacking the few white men on the boat because of "a piece of paper written over in accordance with some farcical law or other." When Marlow first arrives in Africa, he is appalled by the whites' brutal treatment of the natives, and never expresses agreement with the pilgrims who eagerly anticipate taking revenge on the savages. He also seems to be shocked by the addendum to Kurtz's report that says, "Exterminate all the brutes!" Nevertheless, Marlow never sees beyond the surface of any of the natives. He compares watching the boat's fireman work to "seeing a dog in a parody of breeches and a feather hat, walking on his hindlegs," and shocks the pilgrims when he dumps the body of the helmsman overboard instead of saving it for burial. For Marlow, the native "savages" serve only as another illustration of the mystery Africa holds for Europeans, and it is because of this dehumanization that several critics consider Heart of Darkness a racist work.
The Swedish Captain
The Swedish Captain is the captain of the ship that takes Marlow toward the mouth of the Congo. He tells Marlow that another Swede has just hanged himself by the side of the road. When Marlow asks why, the Swedish Captain replies, "Who knows? The sun too much for him, or the country perhaps."

The Woman
The Woman is the proud, "wild-eyed and magnificent" African woman with whom Kurtz has been living while in the interior. She is the queen of a native tribe. When she sees Marlow's steamer about to pull away and realizes she will never see Kurtz again, she stands by the river's edge with her hands raised high to the sky. She alone among the natives does not flinch at the sound of the ship's whistle. Marlow considers her a tragic figure.

The Young Agent
The Young Agent has been stationed at the Central Station for one year. He affects an aristocratic manner and is considered the Manager's spy by the other agents at the station. His job is to make bricks, but Marlow sees no bricks anywhere about the station. The Young Agent presses Marlow for information about Europe, then believes his answers are lies and grows bored. The Young Agent tells Marlow Kurtz is Chief of the Inner Station. He refers to Kurtz as "a prodigy an emissary of pity and of science and progress." The Young Agent establishes a connection between Kurtz and Marlow by saying that the same group of people who sent Kurtz into Africa also recommended Marlow to come and get
him out


Alienation and Loneliness
Throughout Heart of Darkness, which tells of a journey into the heart of the Belgian Congo and out again, the themes of alienation, loneliness, silence and solitude predominate. The book begins and ends in silence, with men first waiting for a tale to begin and then left to their own thoughts after it has concluded. The question of what the alienation and loneliness of extended periods of time in a remote and hostile environment can do to men's minds is a central theme of the book. The doctor who measures Marlow's head prior to his departure for Africa warns him of changes to his personality that may be produced by a long stay in country. Prolonged silence and solitude are seen to have damaging effects on many characters in the book. Among these are the late Captain Fresleven, Marlow's predecessor, who was transformed from a gentle soul into a man of violence, and the Russian, who has been alone on the River for two years and dresses bizarrely and chatters constantly. But loneliness and alienation have taken their greatest toll on Kurtz, who, cut off from all humanizing influence, has forfeited the restraints of reason and conscience and given free rein to his most base and brutal instincts.

Deception, or hypocrisy, is a central theme of the novel and is explored on many levels. In the disguise of a "noble cause," the Belgians have exploited the Congo. Actions taken in the name of philanthropy are merely covers for greed. Claiming to educate the natives, to bring them religion and a better way of life, European colonizers remained to starve, mutilate, and murder the indigenous population for profit. Marlow has even obtained his captaincy through deception, for his aunt misrepresented him as "an exceptional and gifted creature." She also presented him as "one of the Workers, with a capital [W]. Something like an emissary of light, something like a lower sort of apostle," and Conrad notes the deception in elevating working people to some mystical status they can not realistically obtain. At the end of the book, Marlow engages in his own deception when he tells Kurtz's fiance the lie that Kurtz died with her name on his lips.
Order and Disorder
Conrad sounds the themes of order and disorder in showing, primarily through the example of the Company's chief clerk, how people can carry on with the most mundane details of their lives while all around them chaos reigns. In the larger context, the Company attends to the details of sending agents into the interior to trade with the natives and collect ivory while remaining oblivious to the devastation such acts have caused. Yet on a closer look, the Company's Manager has no talent for order or organization. His station is in a deplorable state and Marlow can see no reason for the Manager to have his position other than the fact that he is never ill. On the other hand, the chief clerk is so impeccably dressed that when Marlow first meets him he thinks he is a vision. This man, who has been in-country three years and witnessed all its attendant horrors, manages to keep his clothes and books in excellent order. He even speaks with confidence of a Council of Europe which intended Kurtz to go far in "the administration," as if there is some overall rational principle guiding their lives.

Sanity and Insanity
Closely linked to the themes of order and disorder are those of sanity and insanity. Madness, given prolonged exposure to the isolation of the wilderness, seems an inevitable extension of chaos. The atmospheric influences at the heart of the African continent the stifling heat, the incessant drums, the whispering bush, the mysterious light play havoc with the unadapted European mind and reduce it either to the insanity of thinking anything is allowable in such an atmosphere or, as in Kurtz's case, to literal madness. Kurtz, after many years in the jungle, is presented as a man who has gone mad with power and greed. No restraints were placed on him either from above, from a rule of law, or from within, from his own conscience. In the wilderness, he came to believe he was free to do whatever he liked, and the freedom drove him mad. Small acts of madness line Marlow's path to Kurtz: the Man-of-War that fires into the bush for no apparent reason, the urgently needed rivets that never arrive, the bricks that will never be built, the jig that is suddenly danced, the immense hole dug for no discernible purpose. All these events ultimately lead to a row of impaled severed human heads and Kurtz, a man who, in his insanity, has conferred a godlike status on himself and has ritual human sacrifices performed for him. The previously mentioned themes of solitude and silence have here achieved their most powerful effect: they have driven Kurtz mad. He is presented as a voice, a disembodied head, a mouth that opens as if to devour everything before him. Kurtz speaks of "my ivory my intended my river my station," as if everything in the Congo belonged to him. This is the final arrogant insanity of the white man who comes supposedly to improve a land, but stays to exploit, ravage, and destroy it.

Duty and Responsibility
As is true of all other themes in the book, those of duty and responsibility are glimpsed on many levels. On a national level, we are told of the British devotion to duty and efficiency which led to systematic colonization of large parts of the globe and has its counterpart in Belgian colonization of the Congo, the book's focus. On an individual level, Conrad weaves the themes of duty and responsibility through Marlow's job as captain, a position which make him responsible for his crew and bound to his duties as the boat's commander. There are also the jobs of those with whom Marlow comes into contact on his journey. In Heart of Darkness, duty and responsibility revolve most often about how one does one's work. A job well done is respected; simply doing the work one is responsible for is an honorable act. Yet Conrad does not believe in romanticizing the worker. Workers can often be engaged in meaningless tasks, as illustrated in the scene where the Africans blast away at the rock face in order to build a railway, but the rock is not altered by the blasts and the cliff is not at all in the way. The Company's Manager would seem to have a duty to run his business efficiently, but he cannot keep order and although he is obeyed, he is not respected. The Foreman, however, earns Marlow's respect for being a good worker. Marlow admires the way the Foreman ties up his waist-length beard when he has to crawl in the mud beneath the steamboat to do his job. (Having a waist-length beard in a jungle environment can be seen as another act of madness, even from an efficient worker.) Chapter I of the novel ends with Marlow speculating on how Kurtz would do his work. But there is a larger sense in which the themes of work and responsibility figure. Marlow says, "I don't like work no man does but I like what is in the work the chance to find yourself." It is through the work (or what passes for it) that Kurtz does in Africa that his moral bankruptcy is revealed. For himself, Marlow emerges with a self-imposed duty to remain loyal to Kurtz, and it is this responsibility which finally forces him to lie to Kurtz's fiancee.

Doubt and Ambiguity
As reason loses hold, doubt and ambiguity take over. As Marlow travels deeper inland, the reality of everything he encounters becomes suspect. The perceptions, motivations, and reliability of those he meets, as well as his own, are all open to doubt. Conrad repeatedly tells us that the heat and light of the wilderness cast a spell and put those who would dare venture further into a kind of trancelike state. Nothing is to be taken at face value. After the Russian leaves, Marlow wonders if he ever actually saw him.
The central ambiguity of Heart of Darkness is Kurtz himself. Who is he? What does he do? What does he actually say? Those who know him speak again and again of his superb powers of rhetoric, but the reader hears little of it. The Russian says he is devoted to Kurtz, and yet we are left to wonder why. Kurtz has written a report that supposedly shows his interest in educating the African natives, but it ends with his advice, "Exterminate all the brutes!" Marlow has heard that Kurtz is a great man, yet he suspects he is "hollow to the core." In Marlow's estimation, if Kurtz was remarkable it was because he had something to say at the end of his life. But what he found to say was "the horror!" After Kurtz's death, when various people come to Marlow representing themselves as having known Kurtz, it seems none of them really knew him. Was he a painter, a writer, a great musician, a politician, as he is variously described? Marlow settles for the ambiguous term, "universal genius," which would imply Kurtz was whatever one wanted to make of him

Race and Racism
The subject of racism is not really treated by Conrad as a theme in Heart of Darkness as much as it is simply shown to be the prevailing attitude of the day. The African natives are referred to as "niggers," "cannibals," "criminals," and "savages." European colonizers see them as a subordinate species and chain, starve, rob, mutilate, and murder them without fear of punishment. The book presents a damning account of imperialism as it illustrates the white man's belief in his innate right to come into a country inhabited by people of a different race and pillage to his heart's content.
Kurtz is writing a treatise for something called the "International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs." This implies the existence of a worldwide movement to subjugate all nonwhite races. Kurtz bestows a kind of childlike quality upon the Africans by saying that white people appear to them as supernatural beings. The natives do, indeed, seem to have worshipped Kurtz as a god and to have offered up human sacrifices to him. This innocence proceeds, in Kurtz's view, from an inferior intelligence and does not prevent him from concluding that the way to deal with the natives is to exterminate them all.
Early in his journey, Marlow sees a group of black men paddling boats. He admires their naturalness, strength, and vitality, and senses that they want nothing from the land but to coexist with it. This notion prompts him to believe that he still belongs to a world of reason. The feeling is short-lived, however, for it is not long before Marlow, too, comes to see the Africans as some subhuman form of life and to use the language of his day in referring to them as "creatures," "niggers," "cannibals," and "savages." He does not protest or try to interfere when he sees six Africans forced to work with chains about their necks. He calls what he sees in their eyes the "deathlike indifference of unhappy savages." Marlow exhibits some humanity in offering a dying young African one of the ship's biscuits, and although he regrets the death of his helmsman, he says he was "a savage who was no more account than a grain of sand in a black Sahara." It is not the man he misses so much as his function as steersman. Marlow refers to the "savage who was fireman" as "an improved specimen." He compares him, standing before his vertical boiler, to "a dog in a parody of breeches and a feather hat, walking on his hind legs."

Violence and Cruelty
The violence and cruelty depicted in Heart of Darkness escalate from acts of inhumanity committed against the natives of the Belgian Congo to "unspeakable" and undescribed horrors. Kurtz (representing European imperialists) has systematically engaged in human plunder. The natives are seen chained by iron collars abut their necks, starved, beaten, subsisting on rotten hippo meat, forced into soul-crushing and meaningless labor, and finally ruthlessly murdered. Beyond this, it is implied that Kurtz has had human sacrifices performed for him, and the reader is presented with the sight of a row of severed human heads impaled on posts leading to Kurtz's cabin. Conrad suggests that violence and cruelty result when law is absent and man allows himself to be ruled by whatever brutal passions lie within him. Consumed by greed, conferring upon himself the status of a god, Kurtz runs amok in a land without law. Under such circumstances, anything is possible, and what Conrad sees emerging from the situation is the profound cruelty and limitless violence that lies at the heart of the human soul.

Moral Corruption
The book's theme of moral corruption is the one to which, like streams to a river, all others lead. Racism, madness, loneliness, deception and disorder, doubt and ambiguity, violence and cruelty culminate in the moral corruption revealed by Kurtz's acts in the Congo. Kurtz has cast off reason and allowed his most base and brutal instincts to rule unrestrained. He has permitted the evil within him to gain the upper hand. Kurtz's appalling moral corruption is the result not only of external forces such as the isolation and loneliness imposed by the jungle, but also, Conrad suggests, of forces that lie within all men and await the chance to emerge. Kurtz perhaps realizes the depth of his own moral corruption when, as he lays dying, he utters "The horror! The horror!" Marlow feels this realization transferred to himself and understands that he too, living in a lawless state, is capable of sinking into the depths of moral corruption. The savage nature of man is thus reached at the end of the journey, not upriver, but into his own soul


Point of View
Heart of Darkness is framed as a story within a story. The point of view belongs primarily to Charlie Marlow, who delivers the bulk of the narrative, but Marlow's point of view is in turn framed by that of an unnamed narrator who provides a first-person description of Marlow telling his story. The point of view can also be seen in a third consciousness in the book, that of Conrad himself, who tells the entire tale to the reader, deciding as author which details to put in and which to leave out. Beyond these three dominant points of view are the individual viewpoints of the book's major characters. Each has a different perspective on Kurtz. These perspectives are often conflicting and are always open to a variety of interpretations. Whose point of view is to be trusted? Which narrator and which character is reliable? Conrad leaves these questions to the reader to answer, accounting for the book's complexity and multilayered meanings.

The novel takes place in the 1890s and begins on a boat sitting in the River Thames, which leads from London to the sea, waiting for the tide to turn. Marlow's story takes the reader briefly onto the European continent (Belgium) and then deep into Africa by means of a trip up the Congo River to what was then called the Belgian Congo, and back to Europe again. The Congo is described as a place of intense mystery whose stifling heat, whispering sounds, and strange shifts of light and darkness place the foreigner in a kind of trance which produces fundamental changes in the brain, causing acts that range from the merely bizarre to the most extreme and irrational violence.

The book's structure is cyclical, both in geography and chronology. It begins in the 1890s, goes back several years, and returns to the present. The voyage describes almost a perfect circle, beginning in Europe, traveling into the heart of the African continent, coming out again, and returning almost to the exact spot at which it began. The novel was originally published in serial form, breaking off its segments at moments of high drama to make the reader eager to pick up the next installment. When the full text was published in 1902, it was divided into three parts. Part I takes the story from the present-day life of the unidentified narrator to Marlow's tale, which began many years before and unfolds over a period of several months. This section leads from London into Belgium and from there to the Congo's Central Station. It ends with Marlow expressing a limited curiosity about where Kurtz's supposed moral ideas will lead him. Part II takes the journey through a series of difficulties as it proceeds deeper into the African interior and finally arrives, some two months later, at the Inner Station. It is here that Marlow meets the Russian and is told that Kurtz has "enlarged" his mind. Part III covers the period from Marlow's eventual meeting with Kurtz to his return to Europe.

The title of the book itself, Heart of Darkness, alerts the reader to the book's symbols, or items that suggest deeper interpretations beyond their literal meanings. The "heart of darkness" serves both as an image of the interior of a dark and foreign continent as well as the interior workings of the mind of man, which are dark and foreign to all observers. The literal journey into the jungle is a metaphor, or symbol, for the journey into the uncharted human soul. On another level, the voyage into the wilderness can be read as a voyage back to Eden, or to the very beginning of the world. On still another level, the actual trip into and then out of the African continent can be seen as metaphor for sin and redemption. It parallels the descent into the depths of human degradation and death (in Kurtz's case; near-death in Marlow's) and the return to the light, or life. As the book begins, the Nellie is waiting for the tide to turn. This can also be taken as a metaphor for the brewing revolution in the Congo at the time, for the tide of history was about to turn. The dying Kurtz himself, who is half-French and half-English and of whom Marlow says, "All Europe contributed to the making of Kurtz," can be seen as a symbol for a decaying western civilization. Other symbols in the book include the river, whose flow, sometimes fast and sometimes stagnant, mirrors the stream of life; the knitting women waiting outside Marlow's interview room, who recall the Fates of Greek mythology and thus can be seen as potential judges; and the cross-legged pose in which Marlow sits during his narration, suggesting the figure of the enlightened Buddha and thus a kind of supreme wisdom. The presentation of Kurtz as a talker, a voice who enlarges the mind of his listeners, can also be taken as a symbol for Conrad himself. As a writer, Conrad talks to his listening readers and enlarges their view of the world. Marlow's function, too, is a metaphor for the author's: they both tell stories; they both make people see and feel

05-21-2010, 11:43 AM
+ +
: 9 - 2 - 2010
: 5
: 0
   has a spectacular aura about

05-22-2010, 07:14 PM
: 10 - 11 - 2007
: 14,922
: 23
  is a glorious beacon of light

05-22-2010, 07:15 PM
: 10 - 11 - 2007
: 14,922
: 23
  is a glorious beacon of light

To the Lighthouse

To the Lighthouse

Plot Summary

The Window
The action of To the Lighthouse takes place on two days, separated by ten years. The novel begins on a September evening in the Hebrides before World War I, in the middle of a discussion about the possibility of going to the Lighthouse the next day. Mrs. Ramsay, who is sitting in the window with her son, James, thinks the weather will be fair; Mr. Ramsay, who has been walking back and forth on the path with his student Charles Tansley, says that it most definitely will not be. After a prolonged discussion, Mrs. Ramsay reads "The Fisherman and His Wife" to James, and Mr. Ramsay continues his walking.
Meanwhile, Lily Briscoe is painting Mrs. Ramsay and James; she decides to show what she has accomplished to William Bankes, an old friend of Mr. Ramsay. As they are looking at the picture, Cam Ramsay (daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay) runs past, nearly upsetting the easel. Meanwhile, guests Minta Doyle and Paul Rayley are walking with Andrew and Nancy Ramsay; after the four become separated, Nancy finds Minta and Paul kissing behind a rock. Minta loses her grandmother's brooch in the rocks, and Paul tells her he will search for it the next day, when there is more light.
Minta, Paul, Nancy, and Andrew have not yet returned when everyone sits down to dinner. When they enter, Minta says that she has lost her brooch. Mrs. Ramsay decides that Minta and Paul must have gotten engaged, and Lily uses a salt shaker to remind herself that she will move a tree in her picture the next day. At the end of the meal, another guest, Augustus Carmichael, and Mr. Ramsay recite the poem "Luriana Lurilee" in tribute to Mrs. Ramsay.
After dinner, Mrs. Ramsay finds that Cam and James are still awake. Cam is scared of the boar's head that is hanging on the wall, while James screams when it is touched. Mrs. Ramsay covers the skull with her shawl, so that Cam can't see it, but James will know the skull is still in the room. Mrs. Ramsay assures James that on the next fine day, they will go to the Lighthouse.
With the children asleep, Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay sit quietly together. Mrs. Ramsay tells Mr. Ramsay that Paul and Minta are engaged. Mr. Ramsay wants Mrs. Ramsay to tell him she loves him, but instead she tells him that his weather forecast was accurate and they won't be able to go to the Lighthouse the next day after all. She feels she has triumphed by not telling him she loves him.

Time Passes
Time moves forward and the nights become colder and wilder. During one of those cold, wild nights, Mrs. Ramsay dies. Prue Ramsay marries, then dies in childbirth. Andrew Ramsay dies in France during the war. The abandoned house begins to deteriorate, and the caretaker, Mrs. McNab, decides she can't fight the decay of the house. Ten years after Mrs. Ramsay's death, one of the Ramsay children asks Mrs. McNab to ready the house for guests, expecting it to be the same as it was left. With help, Mrs. McNab restores the condition of the house, and the Ramsays and their guests visit in September.

The Lighthouse
Mr. Ramsay has coerced Cam and James into visiting the Lighthouse. Lily decides to finish the picture she started ten years ago. Before he leaves for the Lighthouse, Mr. Ramsay goes to Lily demanding sympathy, but she praises his boots instead. After the three Ramsays leave, Lily begins to paint, with Carmichael sitting near her. As Lily paints, she begins to think of Mrs. Ramsay, and cries out for her, wanting her to return. Meanwhile, the three Ramsays are sailing to the Lighthouse, and Cam and James are resentful of their father's tyranny. Macalister tells them stories of disasters at sea, and Macalister's boy catches a mackerel.
Lily has a vision of Mrs. Ramsay sitting on the beach with her, and thinks of the disastrous marriage of the Rayleys, which has only been righted by Paul's affair with another woman, and of her cherished friendship with William Bankes. Lily continues to cry out for Mrs. Ramsay. In the boat, Macalister's boy cuts a square out of the mackerel and throws it back into the sea.
After Mr. Ramsay finishes the book he has been reading, they reach the Lighthouse. James and Cam feel reconciled to their father after he praises James's steering, and James is satisfied with the Lighthouse. On shore, Lily thinks they must have reached the Lighthouse, and she realizes that Mrs. Ramsay isn't there, and that she doesn't want her any longer. Lily adds a line in the center of her painting, completing it at last, and feels that she has had her vision. The novel ends with the Ramsays' successful trip to the Lighthouse and Lily's completion of her painting


William Bankes
William Bankes is an old botanist friend of Mr. Ramsay's who has come to stay at the Ramsay home. The years since the two first became friends have changed both men, and Bankes is jealous and resentful of Mr. Ramsay. Mrs. Ramsay senses Bankes's loneliness and wants to pair him off with Lily Briscoe.
Bankes is a childless widower, and tries to assuage his envy of the Ramsay household by suggesting that his old friend's philosophical work is secondhand and past its prime. He is, however, drawn to Mrs. Ramsay's beauty and the warm domesticity of the Ramsays' lives. Rejected by little Cam, he hides his loneliness by denigrating marriage and children to Lily. Lily, on the other hand, realizes that he is isolated and that he carries a torch for Mrs. Ramsay.
Bankes is intellectually open, willing to understand and appreciate Lily's abstract painting, which suggests the essentially positive character that is hidden beneath his bitterness. The two become very good friends. He dies during the middle section of the novel, and Lily looks back on her friendship with him and remembers him as a good and profoundly lonely man, whom she will always love.

Lily Briscoe
Lily is an artist who stays with the Ramsay family in the first section of the novel, and returns with them to their Scottish summerhouse in the final section. She is a Post-Impressionist painter, descendant of a poor family, and has spent most of her life taking care of her father. In many ways, Lily is the chorus figure of the book providing the histories of the characters and commenting on their actions. The beginning and completion of her painting form the frame of To the Lighthouse, and her final line, "I have had my vision," is the final line of the novel, acting as Woolf's own comment on her book.
Lily, a lonely character who never marries, is both consumed by her art as well as in need of love and connection. She is "in love with the Ramsays," seeing them as the embodiment of the affection that is missing from her life, and especially adores Mrs. Ramsay. Just as she is unable to show love, she is phobic about allowing her art to be seen. When William Bankes sees her painting, they form a connection, and talk about the Ramsays. Both of them find things to fault about the family because they are so jealous of them, but both secretly understand each other's feelings. Lily does not like Mr. Ramsay because of the way he treats his wife, and she sees him as emotionless and too logical. She is taken aback when she and Bankes run into Mr. Ramsay spouting poetry on the lawn. Later, she realizes that she has misjudged him and that he is a man of strong emotion who adores his wife.
In the final section of the novel, Lily stands watching the Ramsays sail to the Lighthouse. While she tries to paint, memories and intense emotions surface. The desolation of the Ramsays that has occurred and the years of loss overcome her, and she cries out for Mrs. Ramsay. As Mr. Carmichael joins her, Lily realizes that Mr. Ramsay must have reached the Lighthouse. With this resolution achieved, she puts the final line on her painting and says, "It is finished." She has had her vision

Augustus Carmichael
Augustus Carmichael is a charismatic man who stays with the Ramsays when the family is in Scotland. He has had a bad marriage, and has spent time in India. Mrs. Ramsay was there when his wife threw him out, and she thinks that he doesn't like her because he's had bad experiences with women. Initially offering to teach while at the Ramsays, he ends up lounging about on the tennis courts instead, and Mrs. Ramsay thinks of him as a "great cat" with green eyes. Between his two stays with the Ramsays in Scotland, he becomes an important poet. Later, Lily thinks of him as "old pagan god." At the very end of the novel he stands with Lily looking out over the sea and says, "He has landed It is finished," and Lily feels that he has "crowned the occasion."

Minta Doyle
Daughter of the Ramsays' upper-class acquaintances, Minta is a guest at the Ramsays' summer home. Her parents are stuffy and very traditional, the subjects of many jokes between Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay. Minta, however, is very different an energetic, scruffy young woman whom Mrs. Ramsay calls "a tom-boy." She wonders what Minta's parents make of this modern girl who gads about with holes in her stockings. Minta and Paul Rayley get engaged and celebrate with the Ramsays. Ten years later, when the Ramsays return to Scotland, Lily thinks about Minta and Paul. Their marriage has not been wonderful, for Paul is a bo-hemian man who spends his time in meetings and coffeehouses. Since Paul obtained a mistress, however, he and Minta have settled into a comfortable marriage of friendship, not love.

Mrs. Mcnab
Mrs. McNab is the housekeeper of the Ramsays' summer home. She is the only person who is actively in the "Time Passes" section, tending to the house as it gradually fills with dust and the Ramsays meet their fates. She is the only character who takes some of the flowers home with her. The family has simply been sending money to her to clean, and never write or visit. Mrs. McNab often thinks of Mrs. Ramsay, and when she hears that the house may be sold, she locks the house and leaves. After receiving a letter stating that the family may be coming for the summer, she cleans the house from top to bottom.

Andrew Ramsay
Andrew, one of the Ramsay sons, is killed in the trenches of World War I. He is a brilliant young man, with a genius for mathematics and an interest in zoology.

Cam Ramsay
Cam, the little Ramsay daughter, is a "wild and fierce child" at the beginning of the book who refuses to give William Bankes a flower. When the family returns after the death of Mrs. Ramsay, she has conflicting emotions about being at the summer home. Cam is bitter about Mr. Ramsay's "crash blindness and tyranny of which had poisoned her childhood and raised bitter storms, so that even now she woke in the night trembling with rage and remembered some command of his."
Because the Lighthouse holds such harsh memories for them, neither she nor James wish to go to it, but they agree to their father's wish out of duty. As they drift out she looks back at the house and feels love and pride for her father, but cannot help thinking about the past and the people that are now gone. Mr. Ramsay teases her about not knowing the points of the compass, but sees that she is frightened. He wants to make her feel better, and Cam knows this. She remembers the good things about him, the times she felt safe with him, but is still torn by bitterness. She looks at the shore and feels that the people that used to be there are now free. As they reach the Lighthouse, Mr. Ramsay finally praises his son James. Cam knows that this is a point that James has been waiting for his whole life, and with a greater sense of hopefulness they step ashore

James Ramsay
James Ramsay is the youngest child of Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay. As a little boy he is an extremely sensitive child who idolizes his mother. Wracked by intense emotions, he fantasizes about killing his father in order to have Mrs. Ramsay to himself. His desire to go to the Lighthouse is the focus of the novel's first section. His mother tries to make his wish come true, while his father and Charles Tansley insist that the weather will prevent them. He does not get his wish.
When they return to the summer home ten years later, James is bitter. He feels it is too late to get to the Lighthouse now, and Mr. Ramsay's need to make the trip seems to James to be a fruitless endeavor. He still hates his father for the way he perceived his mother was treated. Though James tells himself he feels nothing for his father, it is clear he desperately wants his approval. As they wait for another breeze to get them to the Lighthouse, James remembers feeling angry with his mother, and then is consumed by rage for his father when he looks at him reading. While he thinks about his mother, the wind picks up, and they move on.
As the group gets closer to the Lighthouse, Mr. Ramsay opens up the lunch, and James finally realizes that his father is lonely, "which was for both of them the truth about things." When they pass over where three men drowned, Cam and James expect Mr. Ramsay to spout bombastic poetry, and when he doesn't they realize that he has changed. James steers the family to shore, bitter that his father will not praise him. As their voyage ends, Mr. Ramsay compliments him on steering them like a born sailor. With his father's approval finally given, James is full of an overwhelming, fierce happiness that is too great to share, and a new hopefulness fills the surviving family members.

Jasper Ramsay
A son of the Ramsays, Jasper likes to shoot birds in his free time.

Mr. Ramsay
Mr. Ramsay is the father of the family. He is the most misunderstood character in the book, a man whose children hate him because they think he is viciously unemotional and cold. They and Lily think of him as stern and sarcastic a man who "never altered a disagreeable word to suit the pleasure or convenience of any mortal being, least of all his own children." Mrs. Ramsay has a very different picture of him. She knows how insecure he is about his abilities as a philosopher and a provider. He is a man who acknowledges the shortcomings of his own skills, knowing that he will never be able to go beyond "Q" in the "alphabet" of great thinking. He is also possessed of many more emotions than his children give him credit for, and is not the exclusively rational man that Lily Briscoe first sees. Her view of him is turned upside down when she runs into him on the lawn reciting poetry and acting it out. Later at the dinner table, Mr. Ramsay talks to Minta and everyone is able to see the charming, attractive man that he can be.
When the Ramsays return to Scotland in the last section of the book, Mr. Ramsay is broken and alone, though neither Lily nor his children can acknowledge this. His need to go to the Lighthouse with Cam and James is an attempt to reconcile himself with them, to share their loss of Mrs. Ramsay, and to make amends for his past behavior. When he finally gives James the praise he has always withheld from him, the process of forgiveness is complete.

Mrs. Ramsay
Mrs. Ramsay is the mother of the Ramsay family who dies during the middle section of the novel. A beautiful, caring woman, she means all things to all people, and each character of To the Lighthouse has a different perception of her personality. Lily sees her as a mother, and doesn't think she has ever inspired romantic passion. William Bankes and Charles Tansley adore her, and think she doesn't realize how beautiful she is. The children see her as the "Lighthouse" of their lives the stable, warm force that protects and guides them. Mr. Ramsay adores and resents her because of her huge capacity for love. Sometimes he feels he would have been a greater thinker if he had no wife or children, but underneath he knows that he is utterly dependent on her.
In her own mind, Mrs. Ramsay is far more complex. She loves her husband, but alternates between pitying and reverencing him, knowing that his intellectual powers are waning and that people will eventually realize that he depends on her too much. She loves to make other people happy and is constantly encouraging love matches, expediting the engagement of Minta and Paul, and trying to match Lily and William Bankes. At the same time, she becomes jealous when attention is focused on others, feeling resentful and left out when Minta and Paul celebrate their engagement. She is used to being loved and relies on it, but is aware of this, and it is balanced by her generous impulses and love. She is happiest when loving, and wishes that she could "always be holding a baby." Her compassion leads her to worry about the plight of the poor, and she is constantly doing charitable things knitting stockings for the Lighthouse keeper's sick child and taking food to poor people in the area.
After her death she remains the "Lighthouse" of the Ramsay family, the most powerful force in the lives of Lily, Cam, James, and Mr. Ramsay. As they begin to accept the loss of her, the surviving Ramsays finally make the trip to the Lighthouse that Mrs. Ramsay had desperately wanted them to be able to make. While Lily breaks down and cries out for her, James, Cam, and Mr. Ramsay make their symbolic voyage to the emotional center that is Mrs. Ramsay. When they arrive they have finally done what she wanted ceased fighting and recognized their equal love for her and for each other.
Nancy Ramsay
Nancy is one of Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay's daughters. She witnesses a kiss between Paul Rayley and Minta Doyle
Prue Ramsay
One of Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay's eight children, Prue dies in childbirth.

Roger Ramsay
Another Ramsay offspring, Roger is referred to as a "wild creature" by his mother.

Rose Ramsay
Rose is a daughter of the Ramsays, who "had a wonderful gift with her hands."

Paul Rayley
Paul Rayley is a guest of the Ramsays who is courting Minta Doyle. Mrs. Ramsay does not respect his intelligence much, and thinks that he's a "boobie." He and Minta get married, and he is irresponsible, spending his time in meetings and coffeehouses. He begins an affair with a "serious woman, with her hair in a plait" who shares his interests. Because of this, he and Minta develop a comfortable marriage.

Charles Tansley
Charles Tansley is a student of Mr. Ramsay, visiting the Lighthouse while he does his dissertation. The product of a lower-middle-class home, he has worked himself up the educational and social scale, and remains uneasy about his status. This makes him overeager to prove himself, and the Ramsay children think of him as a pompous prig. Inclined always to agree with whatever Mr. Ramsay says, it is really Mrs. Ramsay who becomes the focus of Charles's attention. He, like all of the characters, is in love with her. She pities him the poverty of his childhood he has never even been to a circus but dislikes him for his thoughtless behavior to her son James. Tansley's insecurity often leads him to be
unnecessarily harsh, and he tells Lily that women have no business being painters


In To the Lighthouse, the Great War takes place during the "Time Passes" section. The structure of the novel reflects the impact of World War I on European society. Part One is set in the golden haze of prewar innocence and love. Mr. Ramsay entertains himself by reciting Lord Tennyson's poem The Charge of the Light Brigade, a poem about death during the Crimean War, which valorizes the heroism of the then-unprecedented loss of a cavalry unit. Tennyson's celebration of patriotism and glorious death would be rejected by the traumatized survivors of the Great War who had witnessed death on a scale unimaginable to the Victorian poet. As Wilfred Owen wrote, World War I ended "that great lie Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori [it is sweet and proper to die for one's country]." Owen himself would not make it home from the war.
During the middle section of Woolf's novel, the scarifying time period of 1914 to 1918 is represented by the death that comes to many of the characters, including Mrs. Ramsay and Andrew, who is killed in combat by a shell. Part Two is con-cerned with survivors, with a shell-shocked culture attempting to come to terms with its losses. The war marks an end to many of the old ways of life, a change in social climate and the first rumblings of collapse for the British institutions so important to the older characters, especially the Indian Empire. Britain would not grant control to India until 1947, but as Woolf's novel shows, the younger, postwar generation was already beginning to question the culture of empire building.

Debates about philosophy, particularly theories about visual reality, figure prominently in To the Lighthouse. In the first section of the novel, "The Window," Mr. Ramsay, an Oxford philosopher, does his work on the three main philosophers of British empiricism, John Locke, George Berkeley, and David Hume. The basic argument of Empiricism is that human concepts and beliefs apply to a world outside oneself, and that it is by way of the senses that this world acts upon the individual. The question that is debated is just how much the mind itself contributes to the task of processing its sensory input. One of the points that Mr. Ramsay's philosophy debates is whether or not a person can be empirically certain that objects have a distinct and continued existence apart from our perceptions of them. Andrew Ramsay sums this philosophy up to Lily in mundane, domestic terms, saying "Think of a kitchen table then when you're not there."
Throughout the novel, the characters reflect on objects and people that are "not there," especially Mrs. Ramsay. Mrs. Ramsay's effect on everyone and everything is like the imaginary "kitchen table" of Andrew's explanation. Her continuing impact even after death is contrasted with the cold logic of Mr. Ramsay's philosophy, which denies these kinds of connections between reality, mind and personality. Lily's painting style shows a different kind of reality in which objects and perception can be different for every person. As she explains to William Bankes, her view of Mrs. Ramsay does not look like its subject because it is abstract. However, it is still "like" Mrs. Ramsay because she is trying to paint the emotional and spatial impact of the woman.
Like Woolf's stream of consciousness narrative style, Mrs. Ramsay's reality changes depending on how she is feeling making William Bankes either a tyrant or a pitiful person according to her emotions at the time. While Mr. Ramsay blindly wrestles with skepticism on masculine philosophical grounds, Mrs. Ramsay and Lily show maternal and painterly domestic eyes at work, creating a distinctly female "epistemology" or theory about the nature and limits of human knowledge.

Freudian Psychology
The character of James Ramsay is central to the narrative impetus of To the Lighthouse. His desire to go on the trip, and the conflicting reactions of parents form the structure and title of the novel, and are drawn in patterns established by Freudian theories. As a child, James is very hostile to his father and adores his mother. His mother promises that the day will be pleasant enough for them to sail, while his father promises that it will rain and make sailing impossible. James wishes for an "axe , or a poker, any weapon that would have gashed a hole in his father's breast and killed him, there and then." Every time that his father distracts Mrs. Ramsay's attention from him, James feels similar homicidal urges.
This desire to kill his father to keep his mother's attention corresponds to Freud's Oedipal complex. This famous theory is based on the Greek myth of Oedipus, who accidentally murdered his father and wed his mother. Freud said that all males go through an Oedipal stage in which they want to kill their fathers and marry their mothers. In order to grow to emotional maturity, they must get over this impulse and embrace their fathers, as James eventually does.

Perception and Consciousness
In To the Lighthouse Woolf uses a "decorated process of thought" in which the physical world around a character takes on their form of thought. As a result, the world that surrounds the characters has a symbolic status with different and specific meanings for each character. Throughout the novel, the personality and consciousness of each person expresses itself in the way that the world seems when they stand in it. The most important symbol of the book is the Lighthouse itself. Just as it dominates the bay, the Lighthouse dominates Woolf's novel, both physically and symbolically. The characters each see it differently, depending on their emotions and needs.
For Mrs. Ramsay, the Lighthouse represents her isolation as well as warmth and comfort, an integral part of the rhythm of her days that allows her to nurture and be nurtured. The Lighthouse is not just a building, it is "something immune which shines out." For Lily Briscoe, the true "lighthouse" of the novel is Mrs. Ramsay herself a beacon that casts an organizing light on the whole family and continues to illuminate and connect them even after her death. Mr. Ramsay's presence makes the Lighthouse a "stark tower on a bare rock," which symbolizes his unemotional logic. For James, the Lighthouse is a shifting symbol that seems to represent his mother, even as it is representative of the stark rationalism of his father. His analysis of the situations sums up the thematic point: "So that was the Lighthouse, was it? No the other was also the Lighthouse. For nothing was simply one thing


Stream of Consciousness
The narrative technique that Woolf uses for most of To the Lighthouse is normally called stream of consciousness. This technique was a product of Modernism, a literary movement characterized by introspection, self-awareness and an openness to the unconscious. Associated primarily with Woolf and James Joyce, this technique was a way of representing the whole mind of an individual, not just conscious thought. It is based on the psychological theory that human minds are made up of many layers of awareness, from highly articulated rational thought, to emotional responsiveness, all the way to the animal pre-speech level of need and instinct. The basis of the technique is the notion that all of these layers are present in the mind of a human at any given moment a "stream of consciousness" composed of the flow of sensations, thoughts, memories, associations, and reflections. If the exact pattern of the mind ("consciousness") is to be described, then these varied, disjointed, and illogical elements must find expression in a flow of words, images and ideas similar to the unorganized flow of the mind. In To the Lighthouse Woolf describes the technique while talking about Lily Briscoe:
To follow her thought was like following a voice which speaks too quickly to be taken down by one's pencil, and the voice was her own voice saying with out prompting undeniable, everlasting, contradictory things
Woolf's characteristic version of the stream of consciousness puts a new spin on the technique. Instead of being an attempt to capture the complexities of one individual mind, her novel is an attempt to capture the minds of a large group of people as they interact over time. This is achieved by the constant shifting of point of view and narrative chronology often within the same paragraph or line.

Free Association
Part of the stream of consciousness style of Woolf's novel, free association is a term that describes the connections, or associations, that a person's mind makes between seemingly random things. A major part of the Freudian method of analysis is to ask people to say the first thing that comes to mind when they are given a word or object. By looking at the kinds of associations that occur, the analyst can find patterns in the randomness that reveal much about the character of the patient.
In To the Lighthouse, Woolf uses this free association style to reveal her characters. Charles Tansley, for example, sees Mrs. Ramsay next to a picture of Queen Victoria and realizes that she is beautiful. From that he thinks of flowers, bouquets and Mrs. Ramsay "stepping through fields of flowers with the stars in her eyes and the wind in her hair" gathering "fallen lambs" to her breast. The patterns of his thoughts reveal his character in ways that an analyst would be able to see. Mrs. Ramsay is the "queen" of his life, because he thinks of her after seeing a real queen. He associates her with flowers because his studies shut him off from the natural world, and she brings him out of his studious mind-set. He imagines her gathering "lost lambs" because he feels orphaned, and sees her as a Christ-like parental figure.

The theories of the new Freudian psychology are used throughout the novel. The narrative structure is a literary version of the emphasis that psychology places on the subjective reality of emotions and desires. Freudian psychology suggests that emotions, needs, and instincts are more important in understanding personality than rational thoughts. In keeping with this theory, rational thought is shown to be useless to describe characters throughout To the Lighthouse. When, for example, William Tansley tells himself that he doesn't like Mrs. Ramsay because she is "fifty at least," his "freely-associated" emotions tell the real story. Also part of Freudian theory is the emphasis placed on childhood experiences and emotions in the formation of adult personality. Mrs. Ramsay sums this up when she says, "Children never forget


05-22-2010, 07:16 PM
: 10 - 11 - 2007
: 14,922
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  is a glorious beacon of light

Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights


Emily Bront, 1847

Plot Summary

Part I childhood

Set on the Yorkshire moors of England, Wuthering Heights opens with the comments of Mr. Lockwood, the newly arrived tenant of Thrushcross Grange. He tells of his visit to Wuthering Heights, where he encounters his landlord and neighbor, Mr. Heathcliff; Joseph, Heathcliff's pious and surly old servant; Hareton Earnshaw, an ignorant and impoverished young man; and the beautiful Catherine Heathcliff, widow of Heathcliff's dead son. Rough weather forces Lockwood to spend the night. He finds several old books, the margins of which had been used as a childhood diary by Catherine Earnshaw, mother to the current Catherine. Perusing these pages, Lockwood learns about the childhood adventures of Heathcliff and the first Catherine, and of their oppression by Catherine's brother, Hindley. Lockwood falls into a restless sleep, punctuated by nightmares in which the first Catherine Earnshaw comes to the bedroom window and begs to be let in. He awakes screaming, and in so doing he wakes Heathcliff, who opens the window and begs Catherine to come again. At sunrise Heathcliff escorts Lockwood back to Thrushcross Grange.
The next day, Lockwood, finding himself sick, persuades the servant, Nelly Dean, to sit and talk with him. She relates how she grew up at Wuthering Heights, and she tells how one night Mr. Earnshaw brought home the mysterious boy, Heathcliff, whom he had found starving in Liverpool. Mr. Earnshaw favors Heathcliff, causing his son Hindley to hate the interloper, but Heathcliff and the first Catherine become fast friends. Hindley is sent off to college, but after Mr. Earnshaw's death he returns with a wife and becomes master of Wuthering Heights. Under Hindley's tyranny, Catherine and Heathcliff grow closer and more mischievous, their favorite pastime being to wander the moors. On one such excursion they are caught looking in the windows of Thrushcross Grange, and Catherine is bitten by a bulldog and has to stay at the Grange for five weeks. Hindley, meanwhile, forbids Heathcliff to have further contact with Catherine.
Catherine returns much changed. She now dresses and acts like a lady, and she has befriended Edgar and Isabella Linton, the siblings who live at the Grange. Heathcliff feels her neglect sharply, and Catherine feels torn between loyalty to her old friend and attraction to her new companions. Hindley's new wife, Frances, gives birth to a son, Hareton, and dies of consumption, and Hindley starts drinking and becomes even more tyrannical. Heathcliff is deprived of all education and is forced to labor as one of the servants of the Heights. When Edgar proposes to Catherine, she accepts, but tells Nelly that she would never have done so if her brother had not turned Heathcliff into someone it would disgrace her to marry. Heathcliff overhears this comment and flees Wuthering Heights before she goes on to explain to Nelly the depth of her feelings for Heathcliff:
"I cannot express it; but surely you and everybody have a notion that there is, or should be an existence of yours beyond you. What were the use of my creation if I were entirely contained here? My great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff's miseries, and I watched and felt each from the beginning; my great thought in living is himself. If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and, if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the Universe would turn to a mighty stranger. I should not seem a part of it. My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods. Time will change it, I am well aware, as winter changes the trees my love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff he is always, always in my mind not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself but as my own being so, do not talk of our separation again."

Part II marriage and Death

Catherine and Edgar are married and seem happy, until Heathcliff returns, mysteriously wealthy and educated. He takes up residence at Wuthering Heights, where he gambles Hindley out of all his possessions. Heathcliff quickly resumes his acquaintance with Catherine, to her delight and Edgar's annoyance. Isabella, Edgar's sister, begins to love Heathcliff, in spite of repeated warnings about his character. Heathcliff, desiring Isabella's inheritance, begins to encourage the attraction, and when Nelly informs Edgar of this courtship he becomes enraged. A fight ensues between Edgar and Heathcliff, and Heathcliff is banished from the Grange. Catherine, to punish Edgar, refuses to eat for three days and drives herself into a feverish delirium. While Edgar is nursing her back to a fragile state of health, Isabella and Heathcliff elope. Isabella soon regrets her marriage to the cruel Heathcliff. She writes to Nelly, telling her of her miserable life at Wuthering Heights and begging her to visit. Heathcliff takes advantage of Nelly's visit to request a meeting with Catherine, who is pregnant. Nelly reluctantly agrees, and a few days later, while Edgar is at church, Heathcliff enters the Grange and sees Catherine for the last time. Edgar enters and finds Heathcliff embracing Catherine, who has fainted. Catherine dies without ever fully regaining her senses, although two hours before her death, she gives birth to a daughter. Edgar and Heathcliff are both distraught at Catherine's death, and Heathcliff begs her ghost to haunt him.
Days after Catherine's death, Isabella appears at the Grange, having fled the Heights. She swears she will not return, but she refuses to stay at the Grange because she fears Heathcliff will find her there. She moves to the South of England and gives birth to a sickly boy she names Linton.

Part III the Second Generation

Shortly after Isabella's escape, the doctor, Kenneth, brings news of Hindley's death. Nelly wants Edgar to take in Hindley's son Hareton, but Heathcliff vows that if they take Hareton from him he will take his child from Isabella. He asserts that he wants to see if the same mistreatment will affect Hindley's child as Hindley's abuse affected Heathcliff.
Twelve years later, Isabella, near death, writes to her brother and asks him to care for her son after her death. Edgar brings Linton home, but Heathcliff immediately demands custody of his son. He reveals to Nelly his plan to see his child ruling over both Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights.
Young Catherine, daughter of Catherine and Edgar, is not told that her cousin is so close by, but one day on a walk on the moor, she meets Heathcliff and Hareton and is reacquainted with Linton. Heathcliff tells Nelly that he hopes Linton and young Catherine will fall in love and marry. He boasts about how he has turned Hareton, a naturally intelligent boy, into an ignorant brute, while raising his own weak and selfish son up as Hareton's master. When Edgar hears of his daughter's visit, he does his best to impress on her the evil nature of Heathcliff and the importance of avoiding the Heights. Catherine nevertheless commences a secret correspondence with Linton, which only ends when Nelly discovers the love letters and threatens to tell Catherine's father. Heathcliff, however, convinces Catherine that Linton is dying of grief because of their broken correspondence, and Nelly reluctantly agrees to accompany Catherine on a visit to the Heights. That visit leads to a series of clandestine visits by young Catherine to the Heights. Edgar puts a stop to the visits, but finally agrees to let Catherine and Linton meet for weekly strolls on the moor. During the second of these excursions, Heathcliff, knowing that Edgar is near death, tricks Catherine and Nelly into entering Wuthering Heights, where he imprisons them and forces Catherine to marry Linton. Catherine convinces Linton to help her escape, and she arrives at the Grange just in time to see her dying father. During her absence from the Heights, Heathcliff forces Linton to make Heathcliff the inheritor of all of his and Catherine's property. After her father's death, young Catherine is forced to return to the Heights and tend to her dying husband. He dies shortly after her arrival, and Catherine, impoverished and alone, is forced to stay on at the Heights.
The day after hearing this story, Lockwood visits the Heights and gives notice that he will be leaving for London. Returning months later to settle some business, he finds Thrushcross Grange deserted and matters much changed at the Heights. Hareton and Catherine, previously sworn enemies, have fallen in love, and Catherine is aiding Hareton in his attempts to educate himself. Nelly is now employed at the Heights, and while the lovers enjoy a walk on the moor, Nelly informs Lockwood of Heathcliff's death, which followed four days of starvation during which he was haunted by the vision of his beloved Catherine. He was buried, as requested, next to Catherine, with the adjoining sides of the two coffins removed so that their ashes could mingle, and the country folks claim that a person walking on the moors will sometimes see the ghosts of Heathcliff and Catherine wandering their old playground


Ellen Dean

One of the novel's two narrators, Nelly is loyal but conventional, and reads very little into events. In his introduction to Wuthering Heights, David Daiches remarks on the contrast between the tone of the narrative and the high drama of the goingson of the story: "It is to what might be called the sublime deadpan of the telling that the extraordinary force of the novel can largely be attributed. At no point does Nelly throw up her hands and exclaim: 'For God's sake, what is going on here? What kind of people are they?'" For instance, after Heathcliff has spent the night in the Linton's garden bashing his head against a tree trunk, Nelly notices "several splashes of blood about the bark of the tree, and his hands and forehead were both stained; probably the scene I witnessed was a repetition of others acted during the night. It hardly moved my compassion it appalled me; still I felt reluctant to quit him so." Nelly's familiarity with the actors is an important element of the narration, and a hazard of her station is that she must repeatedly be the bearer of news that will move the action in a fateful direction. On the eve of Heathcliff's return, for example, Edgar and the first Catherine look "wonderfully peaceful," and Nelly shrinks from having to announce Heathcliff, though duty compels her to, just as she shrinks later from having to tell Heathcliff of the first Catherine's death, but does. Nelly has a mind of her own, and she does not hesitate to query the first Catherine about her reasons for marrying Edgar, or to suggest to Heathcliff at the end of the novel that he might want to make his confession before dying. Nevertheless, the kind of passion that exists between Heathcliff and the first Catherine is far beyond her imagination

Catherine Earnshaw

Cathy Earnshaw is six when her father brings back with him from Liverpool not the whip she asked for but the seven-year-old foundling Heathcliff, who is soon her constant companion. Cathy is a "wild, wick slip," beautiful, and "much too fond of Heathcliff." Though capable of sweetness, she likes "to act the little mistress," and it is the awareness of the social differences between her and Heathcliff that lead her, despite her love for him, to marry Edgar Linton, whom she finds "handsome, and pleasant to be with." When Nelly implies that her reasons are superficial, Cathy tells of her plan to use Edgar's money to help Heathcliff to rise. "It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff, now," she tells Nelly, "so he shall never know how I love him"; yet "he's more myself than I am. Nelly, I am Heathcliff." Five months after Cathy's marriage to Linton, during which time Nelly observes that the couple seem to be increasingly happy, Heathcliff returns, transformed. Their "mutual joy" at seeing each other again is undeniable, and from that point on Cathy lives with a painfully divided heart. She refuses to respond to Edgar's request that she choose between the two men. Although Heathcliff has the looks and manners of a gentleman, the revenge he plans is diabolical, and though she loves him, Cathy is not fooled. "He's a fierce, pitiless, wolfish man: and he'd crush you, like a sparrow's egg," she tells an infatuated Isabella. When Cathy and Heathcliff meet for the last time, she tells him, "You and Edgar have broken my heart, Heathcliff! I shall not be at peace." She dies two hours after midnight, having given birth to a "puny, seven months' child."

Frances Earnshaw

Wife of Hindley. Dies after giving birth to Hareton
Hareton Earnshaw

The son of Frances and Hindley Earnshaw, Hareton, too, is initially targeted by Heathcliff as an object of revenge, and is degraded by him. But Heathcliff develops a grudging affection for the boy, favoring him over his own weakling son, Linton, and when Heathcliff dies, Hareton weeps over his body. Nelly sees him as "owning better qualities than his father ever possessed. Good things lost among a wilderness of weeds." Hareton is, however, transformed by his love for Catherine, who teaches him to read.

Hindley Earnshaw

Hindley Earnshaw, the first Catherine's brother, is fourteen when Heathcliff is brought to Wuthering Heights. Hindley hates and envies him because Mr. Earnshaw clearly favors the new boy. Hindley continually degrades Heathcliff, a habit that intensifies after the death of Mr. Earnshaw. After the death of his beloved wife Frances, Hindley resorts to drinking and gambling, and neglects both his sister Catherine and his son Hareton. Upon Heathcliff's return to Wuthering Heights after a three-year absence, five months after Edgar Linton and the first Catherine have married, Hindley befriends Heathcliff in the hopes of winning money from him. Blaming Hindley for the loss of the first Catherine, Heathcliff ruthlessly encourages Hindley to drink and eventually wins Wuthering Heights from him. After Hindley dies, Heathcliff brutalizes Hareton, though he eventually abandons the attempt after the second Catherine Linton and Hareton fall in love.

Mr. Earnshaw

Father of Hindley and the first Catherine. He brings Heathcliff home into the family. He was strict with his children.

Mrs. Earnshaw

Mother of Hindley and the first Catherine. She didn't protest the mistreatment of Heathcliff and died two years after he joined the Earnshaw household.


On his return from a business trip to Liverpool, Mr. Earnshaw brings with him "a dirty, ragged, black-haired" orphan from a Liverpool slum. The boy, seven-year-old Heathcliff, and the first Catherine Earnshaw are almost immediately inseparable. Hindley Earnshaw, however, is jealous of Mr. Earnshaw's obvious preference for Heathcliff, and he abuses him. Heathcliff returns the hatred. "From the very beginning he bred bad feeling in the house," says Nelly Dean, one of the two narrators of Wuthering Heights, about the force that has entered their lives. Heathcliff knows only two loyalties, to the first Cathy and to Mr. Earnshaw, and at Earnshaw's death he and Cathy "both set up a heart-breaking cry." He tries to control his jealousy over Cathy's growing friendship with Edgar Linton for her sake "Nelly, make me decent, I'm going to be good." But later, overhearing a conversation in which Cathy says it would degrade her to marry him, he steals away and does not return to Wuthering Heights until five months after Cathy has married Edgar Linton.
Heathcliff is transformed on his return "tall, athletic, well-formed" but he is hell-bent on avenging the loss of Cathy, and he sets about destroying the inhabitants of both Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange with a fury. His assertion of what David Daiches, in his introduction to Wuthering Heights, calls Heathcliff's "natural claims" to Cathy "over the artificial claim of her husband" is welcomed by Cathy, though the strain eventually kills her. Heathcliff cruelly exploits Hindley, Isabella, Hareton, the second Catherine, and Linton, his own son. "I have no pity," he tells Nelly. Yet when the first Catherine dies, he is inconsolable, bashing his head repeatedly against a tree trunk: "I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!" And he has an obvious affection for Hareton, despite his determination to degrade the boy. Heathcliff is largely incomprehensible to those around him, seemingly human and inhuman, a walking contradiction. "Is Mr. Heathcliff a man?" Isabella writes to Nelly, following her marriage to him, "If so, is he mad? And if not, is he a devil?" Toward the end of the novel Heathcliff confesses to Nelly that he no longer cares for revenge: "I have lost the faculty of enjoying their destruction." As determined to join his "immortal love" as he once was to ruin his enemies, he tells Nelly that he feels "a strange change coming," and, forgetting to eat, starves himself. Even death, however, does not compose his features, and Joseph remarks that he looks as though the devil has carried him off.

Linton Heathcliff

Linton Heathcliff is the spoiled, weakling son of Isabella and Heathcliff. He is forced by Heathcliff to marry the second Catherine Linton to secure for Heathcliff, at Linton's death, Thrushcross Grange. Nobody except the second Catherine Linton likes Linton very much; the housekeeper at the Heights complains to Nelly that he is "a fainthearted creature" who can't bear to have the window open at night. His character serves the dual purpose of providing a mechanism whereby Heathcliff can acquire Thrushcross Grange and re-create the Edgar-Cathy-Heathcliff triangle of the previous generation. Linton dies soon after his marriage to the second Catherine.


Joseph is the curmudgeonly, judgmental long-time servant at Wuthering Heights. He believes in eternal damnation and the likelihood of everyone he knows being bound for it, and he scolds constantly in a sometimes difficult-to-follow Yorkshire accent. As in the case of the narrators of the novel, Joseph's authenticity anchors the wilder elements of the story. Winifred Gerin observes in Reference Guide to English Literature that "in creating such a character as Joseph, Emily Bront showed that, undoubted visionary as she was, she also had her feet firmly planted on earth."

Catherine Linton

Catherine Linton is the daughter of Cathy and Edgar, beautiful, like her mother, but cooler. "Her anger was never furious, her love never fierce," Nelly remarks about her. Although forced by Heathcliff to marry Linton Heathcliff, she genuinely seems to care for her cousin. She is obviously less a force than her mother, but spirited nonetheless, and refuses to be cowed by Heathcliff: "You are miserable, are you not? Lonely, like the devil, and envious like him? Nobody loves you nobody will cry for you, when you die! I wouldn't be you!" Although Catherine is at first put off by Hareton's loutishness, the sheer bleakness of their existence propels them toward each other, and she teaches him to read. They fall in love, and the understanding at the end of the novel is that they will marry and go to live at Thrushcross Grange.

Edgar Linton

Edgar Linton is all the things Heathcliff is not: handsome, refined, kind, and patient, although the first Cathy later describes Edgar and his sister Isabella as "spoiled children, [who] fancy the world was made for their accommodation." When Heathcliff says he wishes he had Edgar's looks and breeding, Nelly retorts: "And cried for Mamma at every turn, and trembled if a country lad heaved his fist against you, and sat at home all day for a shower of rain." On the other hand, Nelly observes that the first Cathy's spells of bad humor are "respected with sympathizing silence by her husband," and that Edgar has a "deep-rooted fear of ruffling her humor." Linton loves his wife genuinely, but he is ineffectual. Unable to get her to choose between himself and Heathcliff, he retreats to his library, oblivious to her distress until alerted to it by Nelly. After his wife dies, Edgar sits all night beside her body. Taking the measure of both Edgar and Hindley, Nelly remarks that Linton "displayed the true courage of a loyal and faithful soul: he trusted God; and God comforted him." Hindley, with the stronger head, proved the worse and weaker man.

Isabella Linton

Like her brother Edgar, Isabella is perceived by the inhabitants of Wuthering Heights as spoiled. Having glimpsed them through a window quarreling amid the splendor of Thrushcross Grange, Heathcliff tells Nelly, "We laughed outright at the petted things, we did despise them!" Nelly observes that Isabella is "infantile in manners, though possessed of keen wit, keen feelings, and a keen temper, too, if irritated." On Heathcliff's return to Wuthering Heights after the first Cathy's marriage to Edgar, Isabella becomes infatuated with him, despite Cathy's warning that he "couldn't love a Linton." At first indifferent, Heathcliff responds when he realizes he might gain control of her property through marriage. Once she is committed to him, he cruelly mistreats her. Despite the abuse, Isabella refuses to help Hindley in his attempt to murder Heathcliff, though she has enough of a sense of self-preservation to escape back to Thrushcross Grange, where she crushes her wedding ring with a poker. "I can recollect yet how I loved him," she tells Nelly, "and can dimly imagine that I could still be loving him, if ." Pregnant, Isabella flees to London, where she bears Linton. She dies when Linton is twelve, after which the boy comes to live with Heathcliff at the Heights

Mr. Linton

Father of Edgar and Isabella. He is the owner of Thrushcross Grange.

Mrs. Linton

Mother of Edgar and Isabella. She takes the first Catherine in for a short while and exposed her to fine clothes and social behavior.

Mr. Lockwood

The other narrator of Wuthering Heights, Mr. Lockwood is, like Nelly Dean, conventional. But he lacks Nelly's perception, and appears even a little foolish. At first he judges Heathcliff to be a "capital fellow," and later he fantasizes a liaison with the second Catherine Linton. Several critics have remarked on his name as hinting at a "locked or closed mind." In his introduction to Wuthering Heights, David Daiches describes his general timidity: "he had aroused the love of 'a fascinating creature,' but retreated in panic when he realized it." Mr. Lockwood foreshadows the theme of cruelty that pervades the novel, rubbing the wrist of the ghost of the first Catherine Linton across a broken pane of glass in an attempt to loosen her grasp of his hand. Mr. Lockwood serves to vary the narrative perspective of the novel; his view of events in the present contrasts with Nelly's retrospective view.


A servant at Wuthering Heights.


Love and Passion
Passion, particularly unnatural passion, is a predominant theme of Wuthering Heights. The first Catherine's devotion to Heathcliff is immediate and absolute, though she will not marry him, because to do so would degrade her. "Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same, and Linton's is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire." Although there has been at least one Freudian interpretation of the text, the nature of the passion between Catherine and Heathcliff does not appear to be based on sex. David Daiches writes, "Ultimate passion is for her rather a kind of recognition of one's self one's true and absolute self in the object of passion." Catherine's passion is contrasted to the coolness of Linton, whose "cold blood cannot be worked into a fever." When he retreats into his library, she explodes, "What in the name of all that feels, has he to do with books, when I am dying?"

Heathcliff's devotion to Catherine, on the other hand, is ferocious, and when frustrated, he conceives a plan of revenge of enormous proportions. Catherine's brother Hindley shares her passionate nature, though he devotes most of his energies to degrading Heathcliff. In some respects the passion that Catherine and Heathcliff share is so pure that it approaches a kind of spirituality. "I cannot express it," says Catherine, "but surely you and everybody have a notion that there is, or should be an existence of yours beyond you." In the characters of Heathcliff and Hindley, who both feel slighted in love, Bront draws a parallel between the need for love and the strength of revenge.

Violence and Cruelty
Closely tied to the theme of revenge, but sometimes independent of it, are themes of cruelty and sadism, which are a recurring motif throughout the novel. Cruelty can be manifested emotionally, as in Mr. Earnshaw's disdain for his natural-born son, or in the first Catherine's apparent rejection of Heathcliff in favor of Edgar. The characters are given to physical cruelty as well. "Terror made me cruel," says Lockwood at the outset of the story, and proceeds to rub the wrists of the ghost Catherine against a broken windowpane in an effort to free himself from her grasp. Hindley torments Heathcliff, as Heathcliff will later torment Hareton. And although he has no affection for her, Heathcliff marries Isabella and then treats her so badly that she asks Nelly whether he is a devil. Sadism is also a recurring thematic element. Heathcliff tries to strangle Isabella's dog, and Hareton hangs a litter of puppies from the back of a chair. The first Catherine's early refusal of Heathcliff has elements of masochism (self-abuse) in it, as does her letting him back into her life, since her divided heart will eventually kill her.

Class Conflict
To the characters of Wuthering Heights, property ownership and social standing are inextricable. The Earnshaws and the Lintons both own estates, whereas Heathcliff is a foundling and has nothing. The first Catherine plans to marry Linton to use her husband's money to raise Heathcliff's social standing, thus freeing him from Hindley's domination. Her plan is foiled when Heathcliff disappears after hearing Catherine say that to marry him would degrade her. When he returns, he exerts great efforts to do people out of their property: first Hindley, then Isabella, then the second Catherine Linton. He takes revenge on Hareton by ensuring that the boy is raised in ignorance, with loutish manners, so that he will never escape his station. The story comes full cycle when Catherine Linton teaches Hareton to read, thus winning his love. The understanding at the end of the novel is that the couple will move to Thrushcross Grange

"Wuthering" is a Yorkshire term for roaring of the wind, and themes of nature, both human and nonhuman, are closely associated with violence throughout the story. The local landscape is as storm-tossed as are the hearts of the inhabitants of Wuthering Heights; cycles of births and deaths occur as relentlessly as the cycles of the seasons. The characters feel themselves so intrinsically a part of their environment that the first Catherine compares her love for Edgar to "foliage in the woods," and that for Heathcliff to "the eternal rocks beneath." In detailing his plan to debase Hareton, Heathcliff says, "We will see if one tree will not grow as crooked as another, with the same wind to twist it!" The novel opens with a snowstorm, and ends with the flowering of spring, mirroring the passions that fuel the drama and the peace that follows its resolution.

There are many references in the novel to the supernatural, and even when the references seem fairly literal, the characters do not seem to think them odd. When Lockwood first arrives, he encounters the ghost of the first Catherine Linton, and his telling of the event to Heathcliff arouses not disbelief but a strange passion. The bond between the first Catherine and Heathcliff is itself superhuman, and after she dies, Heathcliff implores her spirit, "I pray one prayer I repeat it till my tongue stiffens Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest, as long as I am living! You said I killed you haunt me then!" At Edgar Linton's death, Heathcliff persuades the gravedigger to open Catherine's coffin, and later confesses to Nelly that he has been haunted by Catherine's spirit for eighteen years. At the end of the novel, after Heathcliff's death, Nelly reports to Lockwood a child's claim that he has seen Heathcliff and a woman walking on the moors


The power of Wuthering Heights owes much to its complex narrative structure and to the ingenious device of having two conventional people relate a very unconventional tale. The story is organized as a narrative within a narrative, or what some critics call "Chinese boxes." Lockwood is used to open and end the novel in the present tense, first person ("I"). When he returns to Thrushcross Grange from his visit to Wuthering Heights sick and curious, Nelly cheerfully agrees to tell him about his neighbors. She picks up the narrative and continues it, also in the first person, almost until the end, with only brief interruptions by Lockwood. The critic David Daiches notes in his introduction of Wuthering Heights the "fascinating counterpoint" of "end retrospect and present impression," and that the strength of the story relies on Nelly's familiarity with the main characters.

The novel is set in the Yorkshire moors of England, even now a bleakly beautiful, sparsely populated area of high rolling grassy hills, few trees, and scattered rocky outcroppings or patches of heather. The lowlands between the hills are marshy. The weather is changeable and, because the area is so open, sometimes wild. The exposed location of Wuthering Heights high on the moors is contrasted with the sheltered calm of Thrushcross Grange, which is nestled in a soft valley. Both seats reflect the characters of those who inhabit them. The descriptions of both houses also reflect the influence of the local architecture at the time of Bront's writing, which often incorporated a material called grit stone.

Images and Symbolism
Emily Bront's poetic vision is evident in the imagery used throughout Wuthering Heights. Metaphors of nature and the animal kingdom are pervasive. For example, the first Catherine describes Heathcliff to Isabella as "an arid wilderness of furze and whinstone," and as Catherine lies dying, Heathcliff foams "like a mad dog." References to weather are everywhere. A violent storm blows up the night Mr. Earnshaw dies; rain pours down the night Heathcliff runs off to London and again the night of his death. There are many scenes of raw violence, such as the bulldog attacking Catherine and Isabella crushing her wedding ring with a poker. The supernatural is evoked in the many references to Heathcliff as diabolical (literally, "like the devil") and the descriptions of the ghost of the first Catherine Linton. David Daiches points out in his introduction to Wuthering Heights that the references to food and fire, and to what he calls domestic routine, help "to steady" the story and to give credibility to the passion.

One of the major strengths of Wuthering Heights is its formal organization. The design of the time structure has significance both for its use of two narrators and because it allows the significant events in the novel to be dated precisely, though dates are almost never given explicitly. The triangular relationship that existed between Heathcliff, Catherine, and Edgar is repeated in Heathcliff's efforts to force young Catherine to marry Linton, though its resolution is ultimately different. On his arrival at Wuthering Heights, Lockwood sees the names "Catherine Earnshaw, Catherine Linton, Catherine Heathcliff scratched into the windowsill. In marrying Hareton, young Catherine Heathcliff will in turn become Catherine Earnshaw, thus completing the circle

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Jane Eyre
Jane Eyre

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Jane Eyre

Short Summary

Ten-year-old orphan Jane Eyre lives unhappily with her wealthy relatives, the Reed family, at Gateshead. Resentful of the late Mr. Reeds preference for her, Janes aunt and cousins take every opportunity to neglect and abuse her as a reminder of her inferior station. Janes only salvation from her daily humiliations is Bessie, the kindly servant who tells her stories and sings her songs. One day, Jane confronts her bullying cousin, John, and Mrs. Reed punishes her by imprisoning her in the red-room, the room in which her uncle died. Convinced that she sees her uncles ghost, Jane faints. When she awakes, Jane is being cared for the apothecary, Mr. Lloyd, who suggests that she be sent off to school. Mrs. Reed is happy to be rid of her troublesome charge and immediately sends Jane to the Lowood School, an institution fifty miles from Gateshead.
Jane soon discovers that life at the Lowood School is bleak, particularly because of the influence of the hypocritical headmaster, Mr. Brocklehurst, whose cruelty and evangelical self-righteousness results in poor conditions, inedible meals, and frequent punishments for the students. During an inspection of the school, Mr. Brocklehurst humiliates Jane by forcing to stand on a stool in the middle of the class and accusing her of being a liar. The beautiful superintendent, Miss Temple, believes in Janes innocence and writes to Mr. Lloyd for clarification of Janes nature. Although Jane continues to suffer privations in the austere environment, Miss Temples benevolence encourages her to devote herself to her studies.
While at Lowood, Jane also befriends Helen Burns, who upholds a doctrine of Christian forgiveness and tolerance. Helen is constantly mistreated by Miss Scratcherd, one of the more unpleasant teachers at the school, but maintains her passivity and turns the other cheek. Although Jane is unable to accept Helens doctrine completely her passionate nature cannot allow her to endure mistreatment silently Jane attempts to mirror Helens patience and calmness in her own character. During the spring, an outbreak of typhus fever ravages the school, and Helen dies of consumption in Janes arms. The deaths by typhus alert the benefactors to the schools terrible conditions, and it is revealed that Mr. Brocklehurst has been embezzling school funds in order to provide for his own luxurious lifestyle. After Mr. Brocklehursts removal, Janes time at Lowood is spent more happily and she excels as a student for six years and as a teacher for two.
Despite her security at Lowood, Jane is dissatisfied and yearns for new adventures. She accepts a position as governess at Thornfield Manor and is responsible for teaching a vivacious French girl named Adle. In addition to Adle, Jane spends much of her time at Thornfield with Mrs. Fairfax, the elderly housekeeper who runs the estate during the masters absence. Jane also begins to notice some mysterious happenings around Thornfield, including the masters constant absence from home and the demonic laugh that Jane hears emanating from the third-story attic.
After much waiting, Jane finally meets her employer, Edward Rochester, a brooding, detached man who seems to have a dark past. Although Mr. Rochester is not handsome in the traditional sense, Jane feels an immediate attraction to him based on their intellectual communion. One night, Jane s Mr. Rochester from a fire in his bedroom, which he blames on Grace Poole, a seamstress with a propensity for gin. Because Grace continues to work at Thornfield, Jane decides that Mr. Rochester has withheld some important information about the incident.
As the months go by, Jane finds herself falling more and more in love with Mr. Rochester, even after he tells her of his lustful liaison with Adles mother. However, Jane becomes convinced that Mr. Rochester would never return her affection when he brings the beautiful Blanche Ingram to visit at Thornfield. Though Rochester flirts with the idea of marrying Miss Ingram, he is aware of her financial ambitions for marriage. During Miss Ingrams visit, an old acquaintance of Rochester's, Richard Mason, also visits Thornfield and is severely injured from an attack - apparently by Grace - in the middle of the night in the attic. Jane, baffled by the circumstances, tends to him, and Rochester confesses to her that he made an error in the past that he hopes to overturn by marrying Miss Ingram. He says that he has another governess position for Jane lined up elsewhere.
Jane returns to Gateshead for a few weeks to see the dying Mrs. Reed. Mrs. Reed still resents Jane and refuses to apologize for mistreating her as a child; she also admits that she lied to Janes uncle, John Eyre, and told him that she had died during the typhus outbreak at Lowood. When Jane returns to Thornfield, Rochester tells her that he knows Miss Ingrams true motivations for marriage, and he asks Jane to marry him. Jane accepts, but a month later, Mason and a solicitor, Mr. Briggs, interrupt the wedding ceremony by revealing that Rochester already has a wife: Mason's sister, Bertha, who is kept in the attic in Thornfield under the care of Grace Poole. Rochester confesses his past misdeeds to Jane. In his youth he needed to marry the wealthy Bertha for money, but was unaware of her family's history of madness. Despite his best efforts to help her, Bertha eventually descended into a state of complete madness that only her imprisonment could control. Jane still loves Mr. Rochester, but she cannot allow herself to become his mistress: she leaves Thornfield.
Penniless and devastated by Mr. Rochesters revelations, Jane is reduced to begging for food and sleeping outdoors. Fortunately, the Rivers siblings, St. John (pronounced Sinjin), Diana, and Mary, take her into their home at Moor House and help her to regain her strength. Jane becomes close friends with the family, and quickly develops a great affection for the ladies. Although the stoically religious St. John is difficult to approach, he finds Jane a position working as a teacher at a school in Morton. One day, Jane learns that she has inherited a vast fortune of 20,000 pounds from her uncle, John Eyre. Even more surprising, Jane discovers that the Rivers siblings are actually her cousins. Jane immediately decides to share her newfound wealth with her relatives.
St. John is going to go on missionary work in India and repeatedly asks Jane to accompany him as his wife. She refuses, since it would mean compromising her capacity for passion in a loveless marriage. Instead, she is drawn to thoughts of Mr. Rochester and, one day, after experiencing a mystical connection with him, seeks him out at Thornfield. She discovers that the estate has been burned down by Bertha, who died in the fire, and that Mr. Rochester, who lost his eyesight and one of his hands in the fire, lives at the nearby estate of Ferndean. He is overjoyed when she locates him, and relates his side of the mystical connection that Jane had. He and Jane soon marry. At the end of the novel, Jane informs the readers that she and Mr. Rochester have been married for ten years, and Mr. Rochester regained sight in one of his eyes in time to see the birth of his first son

About Jane Eyre

Published to widespread success in 1847 under the androgynous pseudonym of "Currer Bell," the novel "Jane Eyre" catapulted 31-year-old Charlotte Bront into the upper echelon of Victorian writers. With the novel's success, Bront was able to reveal her true identity to her publisher, and it soon became widely known that the author of the popular novel was a woman. This revelation allowed "Jane Eyre" to achieve an additional level of interest in contemporary society by forcing the public to redefine sexist notions of female authorship. Although the text presumably relates events from the first decade of the 19th century, contemporary Victorians, particularly women, identified with Bront's critique of Victorian class and gender mores. In particular, Bront's commentary on the difficult position of a governess during the time period was one with which many woman could relate and empathize.
Written as a first-person narrative, the novel follows the plain but intelligent Jane Eyre in her development as an individual from her traumatic childhood. Bront describes five specific stages of Jane's growth over the course of the novel: first, her childhood among oppressive relatives; second, her time as a student at Lowood School; third, her months as a governess at Thornfield Manor; fourth, her time with her cousins at Marsh's End; and finally, her return to Thornfield Manor and marriage to Mr. Rochester. As a classic example of the Germanic Bildungsroman, or novel of formation, the text demonstrates Jane's attempts to define her identity against forces of opposition in each of these five stages.
Bronte also employs many elements of the Gothic novel, another classic literary tool from the period, in order to provide a more tragic bent to Jane's struggles. Mr. Rochester's characterization as a stereotypical Byronic hero, the ominously gothic nature of Thornfield Manor, Jane's unrequited love for Mr. Rochester, and the concept of the Madwoman in the Attic--each of these aspects of the novel relate directly to understandings of the Gothic tradition.
Many aspects of the novel are modeled on Bront's own life. She wrote of the novel, "I will show you a heroine as plain and as small as myself," and, indeed, the characterization of the protagonist as unattractive was largely unheard of in Victorian literature. Like Jane, Bronte was forced to rely on her intellect in order to achieve economic independence and worked a governess with several different families. She attended the harsh evangelical Cowan Bridge School, on which she modeled Lowood. Moreover, the death of Helen Burns at Lowood is a clear reference to the deaths of Bront's two sisters during their time at the Cowan Bridge School. John Reed's descent into gambling and alcoholism also parallels the behavior of Bront's beloved brother, Patrick Branwell, who took to opium and alcohol and died the year after "Jane Eyre" was published.
The tragic and subdued tone of the novel also speaks to Bront's personal experiences in a more general way. With the death of her mother and two elder sisters during her childhood, Bront was forced to cope with a strict and severe father and grow up on the desolate moors of Yorkshire (which appear in all their bleakness in Emily Bront's novel "Wuthering Heights"). The deaths of her three remaining siblings came in the midst of her literary successes, and Bront was forced to live in a loveless marriage for the few years before her death. Although "Jane Eyre" ends happily--Jane marries Mr. Rochester--there is still a pervasive sense of darkness and depression in the text as a reflection of Bront's personal state of mind.
Since its publication, "Jane Eyre" has become a staple of British literature; Bront's characterization of the honest Jane Eyre, tortured Mr. Rochester, and tragically insane Bertha Mason continue to spur the imagination of readers even today. The novel has inspired several films, as well as numerous literary sequels and prequels (the most famous of which is Jean Rhys' "Wide Sargasso Sea," which describes Mr. Rochester's courtship and marriage to Bertha Mason).

Character List

Jane Eyre

The protagonist and narrator of Jane Eyre, Jane begins the novel as an angry, rebellious, 10-year-old orphan and gradually develops into a sensitive, artistic, maternal, and fiercely independent young woman. In each stage of the novel, Jane is met with fierce opposition from those around her, often because of her low social class and lack of economic independence. Yet, Jane maintains her independent spirit, growing stronger in her beliefs and ideals with each conflict; Jane's inferior position as a governess serves simply to heighten her thirst for independence, both financial and emotional. She rejects marriages to both Mr. Rochester and St. John because she understands she will have to forfeit her independence in the unions. Only after she has attained the financial independence and self-esteem to maintain a marriage of equality does Jane allow herself to marry Mr. Rochester and enjoy a life of love. This self-esteem is gained through Jane's making her mark in various worlds: Lowood, Thornfield, and particularly Moor House, in which she is valued for her humanity and values. Paralleling Jane's desire for independence is her search for a proper set of religious values. She rejects the extremist models of Brocklehurst, Helen Burns, and St. John, and eventually settles on a spirituality of love and connection. The novel ends happily for Jane: not only does she maintain her independence and live with the man she loves, she is able to overcome the social constraints of her position as governess and become a heroine with which every reader can relate.

Edward Rochester

The owner of Thornfield Manor and Jane's lover. Mr. Rochester is an interesting twist on the tragic Byronic hero; though not handsome in a strict sense, his great passion and forcefulness make him an extremely appealing and sensual character in Jane's perspective. Mr. Rochester is also a sympathetic character because of the mistakes he has made in his past: deceived by Bertha Mason's external beauty, Mr. Rochester is constantly brooding and rejecting the darkness of his decision. Despite their difference in backgrounds and social status, Mr. Rochester is a kindred spirit to Jane and feels a sort of emotional peace when he is in her presence. Mr. Rochester is also particularly important to Jane because he provides her with the unconditional love and sense of family that she has never experienced before. Although Mr. Rochester is clearly presented as Jane's superior in intellect and worldly knowledge, the revelation of his marriage to the insane Bertha Mason demonstrates that Jane possesses the moral and ethical superiority in the relationship. Jane rejects his marriage proposal after she learns of Bertha, not only because she feels it would flout the law, but perhaps because Bertha's marriage is a cautionary symbol of Victorian marriage: despite Mr. Rochester's best intentions and Jane's equal intellectual standing, he may still end up imprisoning Jane in his own way through matrimony, just as he has imprisoned Bertha. Ironically, when Jane finally does agree to marry Rochester after having gained her independence, the fire Bertha set to Thornfield has blinded him. Thus, he is suddenly dependent on Jane, a fact which nullifies the typical marriage inequalities of the time period and tips the balance in her favor. On a kinder note, Bront closes the novel with Mr. Rochester's sight regained in one eye: the marriage is restored to equality and Mr. Rochester and Jane can be happy in their union.

St. John Rivers

The evangelist who takes Jane in at Moor House, brother to Diana and Mary and, it turns out, cousin to Jane. St. John is the last of the three major Christian models Jane observes over the course of the novel. Stoical, cold, and strictly devoted to Christianity, St. John's religion is far too detached for Jane. He refuses to give in to his love for Rosamond Oliver out of a warped sense of duty to God, and Jane concludes that he still knows little about God's love. Although St. John does not love Jane, he believes that she would be suited to missionary work in India and thus, asks her to marry him. While Jane admits that she would gladly accompany him as his cousin (or adopted sister), marrying him under such circumstances would mean forfeiting her rights to a life of passion and love. Losing her autonomy in such a way is unacceptable to her, while accompanying him without marriage violates St. John's sense of propriety. Jane's rejection of St. John's advances seems to spur her return to Rochester, her one chance for spiritual passion. While Rochester is described in terms of fire and flames, St. John is constantly associated with ice and cold, a connection that heightens the lack of passion and joy that would come with a marriage to him. Although the book ends happily for Jane and Mr. Rochester, St. John's ending is far more ambiguous. Although he has traveled to India to fulfill his Christian duty, Bronte still gives the impression that St. John's life could have been more meaningful if he had ever accepted love.

Helen Burns

Jane's friend at Lowood School. Though she dies early on in Jane's time at Lowood, Helen is perhaps the fourth-most important character in the novel for her symbolic value. Upholding the extreme Christian doctrine of tolerance and forgiveness at all costs, Helen serves as a foil to both Mr. Brocklehurst, with his cruel lack of Christian compassion, and Jane, with her anger at those who mistreat her. Helen espouses a Christianity in which faithfulness and compassion are rewarded in Heaven. As an orphan like Jane, Helen believes that her true family is waiting for her in the kingdom of Heaven. With that in mind, she faithfully turns the other cheek when accepting all the cruel punishments handed down at Lowood. She faces especial torments from Mrs. Scratcherd, and, though Helen is distressed by the treatment, she remains unwavering in her beliefs. When Helen dies, Jane absorbs the lesson that the meek shall not inherit the earth. While Jane initially rejects Helen's brand of religion, she does incorporate it in her life later on, especially when she relies on the spiritual kindness of strangers after leaving Thornfield

Mr. Brocklehurst

The stingy manager of Lowood. Mr. Brocklehurst hypocritically espouses Christian morals in his evangelical sermons and then treats the students at Lowood with disrespect and cruelty. The starvation-level rations and poor condition of the school come in sharp contrast to the luxurious and well-fed existence enjoyed by Brocklehurst's family, and it is discovered that Mr. Brocklehurst has been embezzling school funds to line his own pockets. He is eventually replaced as head of the school.

Mrs. Fairfax

The kindly housekeeper at Thornfield. Distantly related to the Rochesters, Mrs. Fairfax is extremely welcoming to Jane upon her arrival to Thornfield and serves as another surrogate mother for Jane in the novel. She warns Jane against marrying Mr. Rochester because she is concerned about the differences in age and social class. After Jane's departure from Thornfield, Mrs. Fairfax retires with a generous pension from Mr. Rochester.

Bertha Mason

Rochester's insane wife and Richard Mason's sister. A beautiful Creole woman from a prominent West Indies family, Bertha was married to Mr. Rochester in an effort to consolidate the wealth of the two families. Suffering from hereditary insanity that had been kept secret from Mr. Rochester, Bertha began to spiral into madness and violence shortly after their marriage. Eventually, Bertha is imprisoned in the attic at Thornfield under the guard of Grace Poole, a confinement meant to ensure both her own protection and the protection of the other inhabitants of the house. Bertha occasionally escapes from her prison and wreaks havoc in the house; her last outburst involves setting fire to Thornfield and leaping to her own death. As the representation of the classic Gothic figure of "The Madwoman in the Attic," Bertha is both pitiable and terrifying and supports Bronte's critique of gender inequalities and Victorian marriage during the period.

Mrs. Reed

Jane's aunt. Although she promised Mr. Reed that she would treat Jane as her own, Mrs. Reed favors her own spoiled children and harshly punishes Jane for her seeming impudence, even locking her up in the "red-room." When Jane is ten years old, Mrs. Reed sends her to Lowood and then tells John Eyre that Jane has died of typhus fever at the school. On her deathbed, Mrs. Reed reveals that she hated Jane because Mr. Reed loved Jane more than any of his biological children, and she refuses to apologize for mistreating her.

Bessie Lee

A servant at Gateshead. Bessie is Jane's only comfort during her time at Gateshead and occasionally sings her songs and tells her stories. Acting as a surrogate mother for Jane, she is particularly kind after Jane's experience in the red-room and even treats her to a tart on her favorite plate. Bessie visits Jane at Lowood several years after her departure and is impressed with Jane's gentile demeanor. She marries the Gateshead coachman, Robert Leaven, and has three children, the youngest of which she names Jane.

John Reed

Jane's cousin and brother to Eliza and Georgiana. The spoiled darling of his mother, John constantly bullies Jane and is ultimately responsible for her confinement in the red-room at Gateshead. John becomes an alcoholic and avid gambler during his adulthood and commits suicide in order to escape from his massive gambling debts

Georgiana Reed

Jane's cousin and Eliza's sister. The prettier of the two Reed girls, Georgiana's beauty makes her a spoiled, selfish child, though she befriends Jane as Mrs. Reed dies. She blames Eliza for her failed plans to marry Lord Edwin Vere and shows a similar lack of compassion during her mother's illness. She eventually marries a wealthy man.

Eliza Reed

Jane's cousin and Georgiana's sister. Described by Jane as headstrong and selfish, Eliza is extremely jealous of her sister's beauty and vindictively breaks up Georgiana's engagement to Lord Edwin Vere. She becomes a devout Christian, but, rather than espousing compassion and humanity, she believes only in the importance of "usefulness." After her mother's death, Eliza breaks off all communication with Georgiana and enters a convent in France. She eventually becomes Mother Superior and leaves all of her money to the church.

Adle Varens

The French-speaking, scampish ward of Mr. Rochester that Jane is hired to tutor. Adle is the illegitimate child of the opera dancer Cline Varens and an unnamed gentleman. Although she lacks discipline and intellect and suffers from many "French" traits, Adle improves greatly under Jane's tutelage. She studies at a school of Jane's choosing and grows into a sensible and docile woman who becomes a good companion for Jane.

Grace Poole

Bertha Mason's keeper at Thornfield. As the guard for the third-story prison, Grace's fondness for gin and occasional alcohol-induced naps allow Bertha to escape and wreak havoc in the house, including setting fire to Mr. Rochester's bedchamber, ripping Jane's wedding veil, and causing the fire that destroys Thornfield. Jane is led to believe that the strange goings-on in Thornfield are caused by Grace Poole. It is only after Mr. Briggs and Richard Mason reveal that Mr. Rochester is already married that Jane understands Grace's true position at Thornfield.

Blanche Ingram

The young and beautiful society lady who is Jane's primary romantic rival. Jane is convinced that the haughty Miss Ingram would be a poor match for Mr. Rochester, but she believes that Mr. Rochester prefers Blanche's beautiful appearance to her own plainness. Mr. Rochester is aware that Blanche is only interested in him for his money, but he pretends that he loves her in order to make Jane jealous. Blanche's comments about governesses during her visit to Thornfield are particularly upsetting to Jane and demonstrate the popular beliefs about governesses during Charlotte Bronte's time.

Miss Temple

The beautiful and kindly superintendent of Lowood. Miss Temple is presented as the foil to the cruel and stingy Mr. Brocklehurst and strives to treat the students at Lowood with as much compassion as possible, even providing them with extra bread and cheese to supplement their meager meals. Miss Temple is particularly kind to Jane and Helen, providing them with seedcake during their tea together and giving Helen a warm bed to die in. As one of the novel's surrogate maternal figures for Jane, Miss Temple demonstrates the lady-like demeanor and inner strength that Jane wishes to possess as an adult.

Cline Varens

Adle's mother and Mr. Rochester's former mistress. A French opera dancer, Cline pretended to love Rochester but actually only used him for his money. Rochester overhears a conversation between her and one of her other lovers and, filled with rage at his personal humiliation, promptly severs all ties with her. Although Adle is not his biological daughter, Rochester takes her in as his ward when Cline abandons her to run off to Italy with a musician.

Richard Mason

The brother of Bertha Mason. The handsome but weak-willed man, Richard met Mr. Rochester in the West Indies and encouraged him to marry his beautiful sister without mentioning her hereditary madness. Richard comes to Thornfield in order to check on his sister and is brutally bitten and stabbed by Bertha when he goes to her room alone. When he later learns of Mr. Rochester's bigamous plan to marry Jane, Richard arrives back in England with the solicitor, Mr. Briggs, and stops the marriage.

Diana Rivers

Jane's cousin and the sister of St. John and Mary. Charismatic and independent, Diana is forced to work as a governess in a wealthy household because of her family's financial difficulties. Along with her sister, Diana reveals the injustice of society's treatment of well-bred, intelligent women who are unmarried. Diana supports Jane's decision not to marry St. John and helps Jane to maintain her independence. She marries a navy officer.

Mary Rivers

Jane's cousin and the sister of St. John and Diana Rivers. A strong and independent woman, Mary is forced to work as a governess after her family's loss of wealth. Despite their misfortunes, Mary is kind and compassionate, particularly when Jane begins to live with them at Moor House. Mary and her sister both exemplify the type of independent woman that Jane desires to become. She marries a clergyman.

Mr. Lloyd

The kindly apothecary who suggests Jane attend school at Lowood after her traumatic experience in the red-room at Gateshead. Mr. Lloyd also sends a letter to Miss Temple that clears Jane of Mr. Brocklehurst's charges that she is a liar.

Mr. Briggs

The solicitor from London who publicly reveals Rochester's marriage to Bertha Mason. Briggs is also instrumental in giving Jane her proper inheritance after her uncle dies.

Hannah Rivers

The elderly servant at Moor House. Hannah initially refuses to allow Jane to enter the house because she believes that Jane is a lower-class beggar. Jane chides her for her class prejudices, and the two eventually become good friends.

Rosamond Oliver

The daughter of Mr. Oliver. The beautiful and angelic Rosamond is the benefactress of Jane's school and is overcome with love for St. John. Although he secretly returns her love, St. John cannot allow himself to marry her because of their differing circumstances and his intention to become a missionary. Rosamond ultimately marries the wealthy Mr. Granby.

Mr. Oliver

Rosamond's father. Mr. Oliver is the wealthiest man in Morton and attempts to use his wealth for the benefit of the town, particularly in terms of helping St. John Rivers with his school.

John Eyre

Jane's uncle (as well as the uncle of the Rivers siblings), John made his fortune in wine in Madeira. He intended to adopt Jane but was told that she was dead by Mrs. Reed. Although he dies before they ever meet, John leaves his vast fortune of 20,000 pounds to Jane.

Miss Scatcherd

The history and grammar teacher at Lowood. Miss Scatcherd is generally unkind to her students, but she is particularly cruel and abusive to Helen.


Mr. Rochester's faithful dog. Pilot foreshadows Mr. Rochester's presence throughout the book, appearing immediately before Mr. Rochester falls off his horse and maintaining his loyal companionship after Mr. Rochester has lost his eyesight and hand.

Mr. Reed

Jane's other uncle. Because of his great affection for his sister (Jane's mother), Mr. Reed took Jane in when her parents died and intended to raise her with love and kindness. While he was dying, he made Mrs. Reed promise to raise Jane as one of her own, but Mrs. Reed breaks the promise. Although Mr. Reed does not appear as a living character in the novel, Jane constantly feels the presence of his "ghost" during her childhood at Gateshead.

John and Mary

A married couple who works at Thornfield and then cares for Mr. Rochester during his convalescence at Ferndean.

Robert Leaven

The coachman at Gateshead and Bessie's husband. After John Reed's death, Robert comes to Thornfield to bring Jane back to Gateshead with him.

Miss Miller

One of the teachers at Lowood. Miss Miller greets Jane on her initial arrival to the school.

Miss Smith

A teacher at Lowood who instructs the students in sewing.

Madame Pierrot

The French instructor at Lowood.

Miss Gryce

Jane's roommate and fellow teacher at Lowood.

Alice Wood

An orphan who is hired by Rosamond Oliver to assist Jane at the school in Morton

Major Themes


The main quest in Jane Eyre is Jane's search for family, for a sense of belonging and love. However, this search is constantly tempered by Janes need for independence. She begins the novel as an unloved orphan who is almost obsessed with finding love as a way to establish her own identity and achieve happiness. Although she does not receive any parental love from Mrs. Reed, Jane finds surrogate maternal figures throughout the rest of the novel. Bessie, Miss Temple, and even Mrs. Fairfax care for Jane and give her the love and guidance that she needs, and she returns the favor by caring for Adle and the students at her school. Still, Jane does not feel as though she has found her true family until she falls in love with Mr. Rochester at Thornfield; he becomes more of a kindred spirit to her than any of her biological relatives could be. However, she is unable to accept Mr. Rochesters first marriage proposal because she realizes that their marriage - one based on unequal social standing - would compromise her autonomy. Jane similarly denies St. John's marriage proposal, as it would be one of duty, not of passion. Only when she gains financial and emotional autonomy, after having received her inheritance and the familial love of her cousins, can Jane accept Rochester's offer. In fact, the blinded Rochester is more dependent on her (at least until he regains his sight). Within her marriage to Rochester, Jane finally feels completely liberated, bringing her dual quests for family and independence to a satisfying conclusion.


Jane receives three different models of Christianity throughout the novel, all of which she rejects either partly or completely before finding her own way. Mr. Brocklehurst's Evangelicalism is full of hypocrisy: he spouts off on the benefits of privation and humility while he indulges in a life of luxury and emotionally abuses the students at Lowood. Also at Lowood, Helen Burns's Christianity of absolute forgiveness and tolerance is too meek for Jane's tastes; Helen constantly suffers her punishments silently and eventually dies. St. John, on the other hand, practices a Christianity of utter piousness, righteousness, and principle to the exclusion of any passion. Jane rejects his marriage proposal as much for his detached brand of spirituality as for its certain intrusion on her independence.
However, Jane frequently looks to God in her own way throughout the book, particularly after she learns of Mr. Rochester's previous marriage and before St. John takes her in to Moor House. She also learns to adapt Helens doctrine of forgiveness without becoming complete passive and returns to Mr. Rochester when she feels that she is ready to accept him again. The culmination of the book is Janes mystical experience with Mr. Rochester that brings them together through a spirituality of profound love.

Social position

Bront uses the novel to express her critique of Victorian class differences. Jane is consistently a poor individual within a wealthy environment, particularly with the Reeds and at Thornfield. Her poverty creates numerous obstacles for her and her pursuit of happiness, including personal insecurity and the denial of opportunities. The beautiful Miss Ingram's higher social standing, for instance, makes her Jane's main competitor for Mr. Rochesters love, even though Jane is far superior in terms of intellect and character. Moreover, Janes refusal to marry Mr. Rochester because of their difference in social stations demonstrates her morality and belief in the importance of personal independence, especially in comparison to Miss Ingrams gold-digging inclinations. Although Jane asserts that her poverty does not make her an inferior person, her eventual ascent out of poverty does help her overcome her personal obstacles. Not only does she generously divide her inheritance with her cousins, but her financial independence solves her difficulty with low self-esteem and allows her to fulfill her desire to be Mr. Rochesters wife

Gender inequality

Alongside Bront's critique of Victorian class hierarchy is a subtler condemnation of the gender inequalities during the time period. The novel begins with Jane's imprisonment in the "red-room" at Gateshead, and later in the book Bertha's imprisonment in the attic at Thornfield is revealed. The connection implies that Jane's imprisonment is symbolic of her lower social class, while Bertha's containment is symbolic of Victorian marriage: all women, if they marry under unequal circumstances as Bertha did, will eventually be confined and oppressed by their husbands in some manner. Significantly, Jane is consciously aware of the problems associated with unequal marriages. Thus, even though she loves Mr. Rochester, she refuses to marry him until she has her own fortune and can enter into the marriage contract as his equal.
While it is difficult to separate Jane's economic and gender obstacles, it is clear that her position as a woman also prevents her from venturing out into the world as many of the male characters do Mr. Rochester, her Uncle John, and St. John, for instance. Indeed, her desire for worldly experience makes her last name ironic, as "Eyre" derives from an Old French word meaning "to travel." If Jane were a man, Bront suggests, she would not be forced to submit to so much economic hardship; she could actively attempt to make her fortune. As it is, however, Jane must work as a governess, the only legitimate position open for a woman of her station, and simply wait for her uncle to leave her his fortune.

Fire and Ice

The motifs of fire and ice permeate the novel from start to finish. Fire is presented as positive, creative, and loving, while ice is seen as destructive, negative, and hateful. Bront highlights this dichotomy by associating these distinct elements with particular characters: the cruel or detached characters, such as Mrs. Reed and St. John, are associated with ice, while the warmer characters, such as Jane, Miss Temple, and Mr. Rochester, are linked with fire. Interestingly, fire serves as a positive force even when it is destructive, as when Jane burns Helen's humiliating "Slattern" crown, and when Bertha sets fire to Mr. Rochesters bed curtains and then to Thornfield Manor. The first of Berthas fires brings Jane and Mr. Rochester into a more intimate relationship, while the second destroys Thornfield and leads to Bertha's death, thus liberating Rochester from his shackled past. Although the fire also blinds Rochester, this incident helps Jane see that he is now dependent on her and erases any misgivings she may have about inequality in their marriage. Although Bront does not suggest that the characters associated with ice are wholly malignant or unsympathetic, she emphasizes the importance of fiery love as the key to personal happiness.

Gothic elements

Bront uses many elements of the Gothic literary tradition to create a sense of suspense and drama in the novel. First of all, she employs Gothic techniques in order to set the stage for the narrative. The majority of the events in the novel take place within a gloomy mansion (Thornfield Manor) with secret chambers and a mysterious demonic laugh belonging to the Madwoman in the Attic. Bront also evokes a sense of the supernatural, incorporating the terrifying ghost of Mr. Reed in the red-room and creating a sort of telepathic connection between Jane and Mr. Rochester. More importantly, however, Bront uses the Gothic stereotype of the Byronic hero to formulate the primary conflict of the text. Brooding and tortured, while simultaneously passionate and charismatic, Mr. Rochester is the focal point of the passionate romance in the novel and ultimately directs Janes behavior beginning at her time at Thornfield. At the same time, his dark past and unhappy marriage to Bertha Mason set the stage for the dramatic conclusion of the novel.

External beauty versus internal beauty

Throughout the novel, Bront plays with the dichotomy between external beauty and internal beauty. Both Bertha Mason and Blanche Ingram are described as stunningly beautiful, but, in each case, the external beauty obscures an internal ugliness. Berthas beauty and sensuality blinded Mr. Rochester to her hereditary madness, and it was only after their marriage that he gradually recognized her true nature. Blanches beauty hides her haughtiness and pride, as well as her desire to marry Mr. Rochester only for his money. Yet, in Blanches case, Mr. Rochester seems to have learned not to judge by appearances, and he eventually rejects her, despite her beauty. Only Jane, who lacks the external beauty of typical Victorian heroines, has the inner beauty that appeals to Mr. Rochester. Her intelligence, wit, and calm morality express a far greater personal beauty than that of any other character in the novel, and Bront clearly intends to highlight the importance of personal development and growth rather than superficial appearances. Once Mr. Rochester loses his hand and eyesight, they are also on equal footing in terms of appearance: both must look beyond superficial qualities in order to love each other

Suggested Essay Questions

How does Charlotte Bront incorporate elements of the Gothic tradition into the novel?

In the Gothic literary tradition, the narrative structure of a text is meant to evoke a sense of horror or suspense, often through the use of the supernatural, hidden secrets, mysterious characters, and dark passion. Bront incorporates each of these elements into the novel and especially highlights the importance of the mysterious Byronic hero in the form of Mr. Rochester. Bront also emphasizes the Gothic nature of Thornfield Hall and incorporates the figure of the Madwoman in the Attic as the primary conflict of the novel. Bront uses these Gothic elements as a way to heighten the tension and emotion over the course of the narrative, as well as to reveal an almost supernatural connection between Jane and Mr. Rochester.

Is Jane Eyre a likable protagonist? Why or why not?

Jane is an atypical heroine for the Victorian period, and even for contemporary literature, because she is not beautiful in a traditional sense. Unlike Georgiana and Blanche Ingram, who are each lauded as exceptional beauties in the text, Jane is small and slight, with ordinary features and a slightly elvish appearance. With that in mind, Jane is particularly likable protagonist because she is not an idealized figure; her personal and physical faults make her seem more realistic and allow readers to relate to her more closely. At the same time, however, Jane's firm morality and harsh rejection of Mr. Rochester may seem rather cold and unlikable to the more passionate readers. Still, Jane's independent spirit and courage against all obstacles ensure that she is a protagonist to be valued and encouraged.

How does Jane Eyre compare to Bertha Mason?

As the stereotypical Madwoman in the Attic, Bertha is presented as a clear antagonist to Jane in the novel. Not only does she personify the chaos and dark animal sensuality that contrasts so sharply to Jane's calm morality, Bertha is ultimately the sole obstacle between Jane and Mr. Rochester and their eventual happiness. However, while Jane and Bertha seem to be wholly distinct from each other, Bronte does suggest that the two characters have significant similarities. Although Jane is calm and controlled as an adult, she exhibits much of the same passion and bestiality as a child that Bertha displays in her madness. Moreover, though Jane leaves Thornfield rather than become Mr. Rochester's mistress, she still possesses the same qualities of sensuality as Bertha but is simply more successful at suppressing them.

How does the novel comment on the position of women in Victorian society?

As a woman, Jane is forced to adhere to the strict expectations of the time period. Thought to be inferior to men physically and mentally, women could only hope to achieve some sort of power through marriage. As a governess, Jane suffers under an even more rigid set of expectations that highlight her lower-class status. With this social construct in mind, Jane has a submissive position to a male character until the very end of the novel. At Lowood, she is subservient to Mr. Brocklehurst; at Moor House, she is under the direct control of St. John Rivers; and even at Thornfield, she is in a perpetually submissive position to Mr. Rochester. Over the course of the narrative, Jane must escape from each of these inferior positions in an effort to gain her own independence from male domination. After her uncle leaves her his fortune, Jane is able to achieve this independence and can marry Mr. Rochester on her own terms, as an equal. Yet, Bronte emphasizes that Jane's sudden inheritance and resulting happy ending are not typical for women during the time period. Under most circumstances, Jane would be forced to maintain a subservient position to men for her entire life, either by continuing her work as a governess or by marrying an oppressive husband.

Considering his treatment of Bertha Mason, is Mr. Rochester a sympathetic or unsympathetic character?

Although Mr. Rochester's treatment of Bertha may seem to be cruel, it is difficult not to feel some sympathy for his situation. Mr. Rochester married Bertha under false pretenses; he was unaware of her hereditary madness and was swept away by her exotic beauty and charm. After discovering his wife's madness, Mr. Rochester does not cast her out but rather attempts to make her life as comfortable as possible. Although Bertha's chamber in Thornfield seems inhumane, it is important to note that the conditions in madhouses of the time period would have been far worse. Mr. Rochester also is more sympathetic when we consider his extreme unhappiness and loneliness: he was fooled by the appearance of love and has been paying for his mistake ever since

How does Mr. Rochester compare to St. John Rivers?

Throughout the novel, Bronte associates Mr. Rochester with fire and passion and St. John Rivers with ice and cold detachment. Bronte also presents Jane's potential union with each man as profoundly different. With Mr. Rochester, Jane would be forced to sacrifice her morality and sense of duty for the sake of passion. With St. John Rivers, however, Jane would have to sacrifice all sense of passion for the sake of religious duty. Significantly, Bronte also suggests that St. John may not be too different from Mr. Rochester. He is passionately in love with Rosamond Oliver, and his feelings for Rosamond seem to mirror Mr. Rochester's fiery emotions for Jane. However, St. John forces himself to suppress his feelings in favor of a cold evangelical exterior and, as a result, lives his life in solitude.

Why is Jane unable to stay with Mr. Rochester after his marriage to Bertha Mason is revealed?

Although Jane is very much in love with Mr. Rochester, she is unable to give in to the passion that she feels. Her eight years at Lowood School and her conversations with Helen Burns taught her the importance of suppressing passion and lust with morality and a sense of duty. If Jane were to stay with Mr. Rochester, it could only be as his mistress, and Jane is unwilling to sacrifice her sense of right and wrong in order to placate her personal desires. However, because Jane's love for Mr. Rochester is so strong, she realizes that she will be unable to resist him and her own desires if she remains at Thornfield Manor. Thus, when Jane leaves Thornfield, she sacrifices her personal happiness in order to them both from committing a sin that would destroy the purity of their love.

What is the significance of Charlotte Bront ending the novel with a statement from St. John Rivers?

In the last chapter of the novel, Bront describes Jane's happiness with Mr. Rochester: they have married, had children, and Mr. Rochester has regained sight in one of his eyes. Yet, instead of ending the book on this happy note, Bront concludes the novel with a letter from St. John in India in which he mentions a premonition of his death. St. John has done his duty to God by working as a missionary in India, but his existence still seems small and lonely in comparison to the joyous life that Jane has made with Mr. Rochester. Bront suggests that even the most pious life is meaningless if it is devoid of love. St. John has a chance for love with Rosamond Oliver, but he sacrificed his happiness with her because he did not believe that love could co-exist with religion. Jane's ending with Mr. Rochester demonstrates the falsity of St. John's beliefs and reminds the readers of what could have happened to Jane if she had given up her love for Mr. Rochester.

What is the role of family in the novel?

The novel traces Jane's development as an independent individual, but it can also be read as a description of her personal journey to find her family. In each of the five stages of the novel, Jane searches for the family that she has never known. At Gateshead, the Reed family is related to her by blood and, while Bessie serves as a sort of surrogate maternal figure, Jane is unable to receive the true love and affection that she desires. At Lowood, Jane finds another maternal figure in the form of Miss Temple, but again, the school does not become a true home to her. When Jane reaches Thornfield and meets Mr. Rochester, she finally finds the love and family for which she has thirsted: Thornfield becomes her home because of her love for Mr. Rochester. However, because of Mr. Rochester's existing marriage to Bertha Mason (a union which nullifies any of Jane's familial connections to the Manor), Jane must move on and attempt to replace the family that she has now lost. Ironically, when Jane stays at Moor House, she actually discovers her true family: the Rivers siblings are her cousins. Yet, Jane's true sense of family remains with the love she feels for Mr. Rochester and, by returning to him at Ferndean and finally accepting his marriage proposal, she is able to fulfill her desire for a true family at last.

How does the novel relate to Charlotte Bront's personal life?

Many aspects of the novel are autobiographical. Lowood School is based on the Clergy Daughters School at Cowan Bridge, where Jane and her sisters studied after their mother's death. Bront's school has similarly poor conditions, and Bront modeled Mr. Brocklehurst after the Reverend William Carus Wilson, an evangelical minister who managed the school. Bront also informed the death of Helen Burns by recalling the deaths of her two sisters during a fever outbreak at their school. John Reed's descent into gambling and alcoholism relates to the struggles of Bront's brother, Patrick Branwell, during the later years of his life. Most importantly, Jane's experience as a governess were modeled directly on Bront's own experiences as a governess in wealthy families

05-22-2010, 07:20 PM
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  is a glorious beacon of light

Middlemarch by George Eliot Middlemarch by George Eliot

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Middlemarch by George Eliot

Short Summary

Dorothea and Celia are two Middlemarch sister of marriageable age. Dorothea chooses Casaubon, a dried-up old scholar, for her husband, much to everyone's dismay. Celia, more sensible, chooses Sir James Chettam, a local nobleman who wanted to marry Dorothea, before she turned him down. Celia and Mr. Brooke, Dorothea's uncle, try to counsel her against marrying Casaubon, though she will not listen. Dorothea likes him because he is educated, and she wants to learn, though the marriage is a total mistake.
Dorothea and Casaubon get married; Casaubon hopes for someone to comfort and serve him, and Dorothea wants to be of use in his work. They go on honeymoon in Rome, and there they meet Will Ladislaw, Casaubon's young cousin, whom Casaubon dislikes. Dorothea and Will become friends immediately; they love to talk to each other, and seem to have a real connection, which Casaubon is very jealous of. The honeymoon turns out to be a disaster; Dorothea feels alone and unwanted, as her husband devotes his full time to his studies, and none to her.
Fred Vincy is an irresponsible young man who is used to people providing all the money he needs. He was unable to finish college because he had no aptitude for it, and He has a gambling debt against him, which he cannot pay because he has no job. He has Caleb Garth, an honest family man, co-sign for the debt. Fred receives money from his uncle Featherstone with which to pay the debt. However, he wastes this money, and the Garths, who have little money, end up having to pay it. Fred is very sad, since he believes that this will jeopardize his hopes for Mary, their oldest daughter.
A young doctor named Lydgate moves to the town; he has new methods in medicine, which make some of the older, more established doctors his enemies. Rosamond, the Vincys' vain daughter, takes to him immediately, because he has good connections, and is new to Middlemarch. He likes her, but doesn't plan to marry; she believes he is all hers, and will propose very shortly. Lydgate takes the controversial step of charging patients for his service. Some people don't like this new way of doing things, but Lydgate is also able to cure some difficult cases, so his renown is mixed.
Lydgate is drawn toward Bulstrode, who is very influential though not too well-liked in the town. Lydgate is also compelled to vote with Bulstrode on certain issues, like who to serve as hospital chaplain; he does this to please Bulstrode, though he does not please his conscience.
Featherstone, an old cranky man who is a relative of the Garths and the Vincys, is dying; his relatives all come to visit, hoping that he will put them in his will, since he has tons of money and property. Fred has special hopes that he will get money, being as close to the old man as most people can be. Featherstone's relatives turn up in droves when he is sick, all hoping to be put into his will and get some money. He ignores all of them, and has Mary Garth, who is his housekeeper, either entertain them, or have them go away. He dies, and leaves everything to his illegitimate son, Mr. Rigg, leaving Fred very disappointed.
Dorothea's marriage continues to be a very unpleasant thing; the dynamic of their marriage does not change, though Casaubon grown more irritable. He expects her to devote all her time to making him feel better, soothing his insecurities, etc.; however, he doesn't tell her what he wants her to do, leaving her completely confused about everything. He doesn't expect that Dorothea should be a human being, with her own opinions and ideas; Dorothea becomes less and less content in the marriage.
Will Ladislaw moves to Middlemarch, much to Casaubon's displeasure. Mr. Brooke, Dorothea's uncle, has bought a newspaper, The Pioneer, and hires Will to work on it. Will and Mr. Brooke are politically progressive, which means that they are not well-liked in the neighborhood. Mr. Brooke decides to try and run for office; but he is mocked a great deal and gives up. Will is very politically adept, though, and should go into politics himself someday.
Lydgate, though he has no intent of marrying so soon, proposes to Rosamond; she accepts, and they are to be married. The couple are warned that they are not suited to each other; Rosamond has no sense of money, and likes things that are too expensive. However, the two are married, as Rosamond soon begins spending more than Lydgate actually has d.
Casaubon is in a bad condition; Lydgate says that it is a heart ailment, and can kill him suddenly. Casaubon asks Dorothea to promise to follow his wishes after he dies; she does not promise immediately. But, before she can give him her answer, he is dead, and she is widowed.
There is a clause in Casaubon's will about Dorothea not marrying Will, or else she forfeits her property. This clause is a shock, and does not speak well of Will's character. Dorothea goes to visit her sister and Sir James, and their new baby, Arthur. However, she soon finds out about the clause, and is deeply troubled by it.
Fred is told to get a job by his father; instead, all that he can do is go back and finish school, which makes Mary a little happier. The Garths come upon a great deal of good fortune; Caleb Garth gets some new properties to manage, which means that the family has some money at last. Farebrother and his family also start doing well; Dorothea gives them her large parish, and the extra income will allow Farebrother to marry, and will ensure that they have enough money to live a little better.
Meanwhile, Lydgate is deeply in debt; he cannot pay back his loans, and his business is failing quickly. Rosamond applies to her father and his uncle for loans, but nothing seems to work. He is in a nervous, desperate state, and the marriage is not looking too good either. Rosamond begins to hate him because he tries to deny her all the nice, expensive things that she likes. She treasures her precious things more than she does her husband, who is too stressed to pay attention to her. She begins keeping company with Will Ladislaw, and fancies that he loves her. He does not, but it keeps Rosamond content for some time.
Will finds out about the clause in Casaubon's will, and becomes determined to leave. He sees Dorothea one last time, and they have a very heated confrontation. He leaves and goes to London, to find another job; she stays and tries not to think of him too often.
Fred does not want to go into the clergy, and he has Farebrother speak to Mary for him. Mary says that she is determined to marry Fred if he will make good on his promise to get a job, but says he should not be a preacher. Fred decides, quite by accident, to become an assistant to Mary's father. His parents are not very pleased by this, but this is all he wants to do, or has any aptitude for.
Bulstrode buys Stone Court from Mr. Rigg, who decides to leave town and go back to the coast. Bulstrode meets Mr. Raffles, a man from his past, very much by accident; Mr. Raffles was in a questionable business of selling stolen goods, and will blackmail Bulstrode if he doesn't get money. Raffles also married Rigg's mother; but Rigg wouldn't give him any money, and told him to leave immediately.
Rigg comes again and again to haunt Bulstrode; Bulstrode pays him to leave, but Raffles comes back, and he is very ill. Raffles tells Mr. Garth about Bulstrode's past; but Mr. Garth is too scrupulous to spread this knowledge around, so Bulstrode thinks that he is safe. Raffles dies at Bulstrode's house, under Lydgate's care; this doesn't look good, but Raffles died of natural causes relating to alcoholism. Bulstrode offers Lydgate a large loan to keep him from going bankrupt; Lydgate takes it, though it looks really bad, like a bribe. Bulstrode also found out that he had married Will Ladislaw's grandmother, and had deprived Will of his rightful inheritance. He tries to repent by offering Will a good deal of money, but Will refuses, which is good.
Will comes back, but Dorothea catches him with Rosamond, in what looks like a bad situation. Dorothea is disappointed, and angry with Will; Will is in turn angry with Rosamond for making things look like he loved her, when he didn't at all. Will debates whether to go and see her or not; Sir James wants him out of the neighborhood again, thinking that he is no good, and he needs to protect his sister-in-law

Raffles told his story to a few more people than just Caleb Garth; the story gets around to Middlemarch, and things start looking very bad for Bulstrode. Lydgate is also connected with this, as the loan is thought of as some kind of bribe for being quiet about the circumstances regarding Raffles' death. Dorothea, however, believes that Lydgate is innocent. She, Farebrother, and a few others convince him to stay; in time, public opinion is not so much against him, though his practice continues to diminish.
Bulstrode, however, has to leave Middlemarch because the scandal is so bad. His wife is very sorry, because she had no idea that his past was so dirty; she is a very good person, and makes up her mind to stay with him no matter what. He leaves in disgrace, though Lydgate, who is innocent, stays behind.
Fred is doing well in his work for Mr. Garth; Mrs. Bulstrode leaves him the management of Stone Court, and he gets to live there as he takes care of the property. He and Mary become engaged, though Farebrother also wishes to marry her. But their engagement will be long, while Fred continues to prove himself through work, and s money for marriage.
Dorothea bails out Lydgate with money to pay Bulstrode back. Finally, Will comes to see her; though she cannot marry him or else lose her property, she decides she doesn't want to lose him. Dorothea gives up all of Casaubon's money and property to marry Will; Celia and Sir James are shocked, though she has made the right decision. Sir James continues to think badly of the marriage; but Will and Dorothea go to London, Will is elected to Parliament, and they are very happy

Character List

Dorothea Brooke
Oldest of two daughters, and raised by her bachelor uncle, Mr. Brooke. Dorothea is an excessively religious, pious girlto the extent that she withdraws from the activities she likes most, and convinces herself to marry a man, Mr. Casaubon, who cannot satisfy her emotionally or mentally. Dorothea, although she is fairly well-educated, is nave about the outside world; when her marriage disappoints her, she is forced to learn that she cannot make a life through other people, and that she must fulfill her purpose in life through her own effort.
Celia Brooke
Dorothea's younger sister, the more calm and ordinary of the two. Although she makes no challenges to convention, Celia is sensible, and very perceptive when it comes to people and the Middlemarch world around her. She marries the kind and sensitive Sir James Chettam, a much better match, and made for better reasons, than her sister's union.
Mr. Brooke
Dorothea and Celia's guardian and uncle, brother to their deceased father. He is a strong-willed man, with definite, though outdated, ideas about what women should and should not do. Mr. Brooke means well, however, and has few qualms about flying in the face of Middlemarch conventions and politics, if need be.
Edward Casaubon
Dorothea's middle-aged husband, a crusty old scholar with an inability to feel emotion or love. He slaves away on a project called "The Key to All Mythologies," a work that is supposed to integrate his life's learning. However, Casaubon really has no intention of writing or finishing it, and has lost his ability to live and his will to achieve in the musty pages of books. He is also a man prone to jealousy and insecurity, which places a great burden on his young wife, Dorothea.
Sir James Chettam
Begins pursuing Dorothea at the beginning of the novel, but gives her up for her sister Celia when Dorothea becomes engaged to Casaubon. Chettam is an affable, kind man, who listens ardently to Dorothea's plans for improving the life of rural folk, and then takes great measures to make her plans a reality. Unlike many of the men in this novel, he does not subscribe to ideas that women should be weak, ornamental, and limited in their activities to household affairs; this makes his union with Celia a happy one, and cements his friendship with Dorothea.
Mr. Cadwallader
Preacher of Sir James' parish, and a trusted friend and advisor to him as well. He is kind, though has strong opinions in certain issues. He is often at Freshitt, Sir James' estate, for casual occasions and conversations

Mrs. Cadwallader
Wife of Mr. Cadwallader, also rather kind-hearted, though with a tendency to be a bit of a busy-body. She knows all about neighborhood affairs, showing perhaps a little too much interest in other people's business.
Will Ladislaw
Young cousin of Mr. Casaubon, whom Casaubon has little regard for. He is kind though proud, and very intelligent. But, he is of lower social and economic standing than Casaubon because both his mother and grandmother married beneath themselves, and were disowned as a result. He is Dorothea's true love, and both of them bring out the best in each other.
Dr. Tertius Lydgate
Young man of about 30, of good family and social connections. He is the newest doctor in Middlemarch, and gains a lot of criticism from the old guard for his new methods and outsider status. He is proud to a fault, bright, and thinks that he has the capacity to be a great innovator in medicine. He falls in love with Rosamond and marries her, though his finances are less than ideal.
Rosamond Vincy
Very vain, empty-headed young woman, though her social graces and manner are perfect. She loves Lydgate because he is an outsider with impressive connections, and flatters her often. She needs constant attention from male suitors, even after marriage, and only the finest things around her. She treasures expensive possessions and furniture even more than her husband Lydgate, which causes great discord.
Mr. Vincy
Rosamond and Fred's father, mayor of Middlemarch. His family is one of the foremost in local society, and he is a merchant of good standing, dealing in cloth. Their family is not all rich, but got money from business. Mr. Vincy is very economical and works hard, though the rest of his family does not.
Mrs. Vincy
Wife to Mr. Vincy, and originator of many of her daughter Rosamond's flaws. She is also rather empty-headed, materialistic, and impractical; she gets Rosamond used to a very high standard of living, beyond even her husband's needs. She is not a bad woman, though she is recognized as being flawed, and not as steady as her husband.
Fred Vincy
The Vincys' only son; he starts out as a spendthrift and a very irresponsible young man, though by the end of the novel, he is doing decidedly better. He is in love with Mary Garth, though she is below him in social standing. However, Mary is much more sensible than he is, and gets him to work hard and prosper.
Mary Garth
Oldest child of the Garths, she works for Mr. Featherstone at Stone Court until his death. She is an intelligent girl who knows a good bit of literature, and she also has good experience with human nature. Mary is very affable, practical, and independent. She also helps Fred to improve himself immeasurably.
Caleb Garth
Mary's father, a hard-working man who manages estates and does improvements and construction projects on properties. He is far from rich, and very generous in spirit; overall a good man, who is always honest, and treats people well. He has a number of children, Mary being the most prominent. Fred becomes his apprentice when he cleans up his act.
Mrs. Garth
Wife of Caleb, just as honest and upstanding. She gives lessons to her own children and to village children as well, making extra money from this. She prizes responsibility, education, and honesty, and makes sure all of her children have these traits. She is a harder judge than her husband, but they are still a good match.
Mr. Featherstone
Owner of Stone Court, and very wealthy; related to both the Vincys and the Garths through his two childless marriages. He is a stern, unkind old man who uses his wealth as a threat to other people. He leaves his estate to his illegitimate son Mr. Rigg, which disappoints the Vincy family a great deal.
Mr. Rigg
Illegitimate son of Featherstone; he is disliked by people in Middlemarch for his common origins, and for being an outsider. He handles business and accountancy matters, and sells Stone Court to Mr. Bulstrode. He is stern and not very social, but not as mean as his father

Mr. Bulstrode
Another prominent figure in Middlemarch, who runs a bank, a hospital, and other institutions. He has a good deal of money, and is prosperous; but his tendency to sermonize and keep an absurdly pious faade in public means that he is very unpopular with many people.
Mrs. Bulstrode
Mr. Vincy's sister; she is a very good woman, honest, upstanding, and faithful. She is also very good at evaluating other people, and their affairs. She gives excellent advice to Rosamond about marrying, and to the Vincys as well. Though her husband got his start in London, she is a true Middlemarcher, with a long family history there.
Mrs. Waule
Mr. Featherstone's sister, whom Mr. Featherstone does not like. She only comes to see him when he is dying, with the expectation that he will give her money in his will. A rater unpleasant woman, and not good company either.
A very honest and good man, though he is also human and would be the first to say so. He is in the clergy, and makes very little money; he supports his sister, mother, and aunt with this money, which is a bit of a strain. He is a good friend to Ladislaw, Lydgate, and others; he is also in love with Mary Garth, and she regards him highly.
Mr. Tyke
Another clergyman in the area, though his preaching is more sanctimonious, and favored by Bulstrode. He gets the position as the chaplain at the hospital instead of Farebrother for political reasons, although Farebrother is favored personally and as a preacher by most of the neighborhood.
Will's painter friend in Rome, who appreciates Dorothea's beauty.
Town auctioneer, and business advisor to Featherstone. He seems to know Featherstone better than almost anyone, and is the only person other than Rigg who receives anything from his will.
Mr. Raffles
Rigg's stepfather, a good-for-nothing. Also a former business partner of Bulstrode's. He helped Bulstrode in some very disreputable trades, and comes back years later to blackmail him. He effectively blackens Bulstrode's name, then dies of alcoholism while under his care.
Christy Garth
The Garths' oldest son; he is a real academic excelling in languages and other subjects. He is responsible, upright, and everything that the Garths treasure in a person's character.
Captain Lydgate
Lydgate's flighty, wealthy, and airheaded cousin. Lydgate doesn't care for him at all, though Rosamond adores him because he pays her a lot of attention.
Godwin Lydgate
Lydgate's very wealthy uncle, who turns down Rosamond's request for a loan. He seems rather haughty, and not generous at all.
Miss Noble
Farebrother's aunt, who has never married. She is kindly, and Will is a very good friend to her.
Ned Plymdale
Vain suitor of Rosamond's, though she rejects him. He goes on to do well financially, and get married to someone else.
Mrs. Plymdale
Ned's mother, very proud and boastful about her son's success. Bitter that Rosamond rejects him

Major Themes

This is a major theme of Fred's story, and he must becomes responsible for his finances and his choices. Will does too, to a certain extent. Both men must learn how to rely on themselves, not infringe upon others, and how to become independent in many ways.
A big issue of character. Rosamond is extremely stubborn, meaning that if things aren't done her way, she will go behind other people's backs to do things the way she thinks they should be done. Societal stubbornness is responsible for Lydgate's failure with his medical practice; people want what they want, for whatever reasons, which means that they are blind to things that might be best for them.
A theme that Lydgate and Will Ladislaw cannot seem to beat. People in Middlemarch dislike anyone who is not from Middlemarch, or anyone whose reputation seems questionable. Will and Lydgate are both good people, but it is initial prejudice, sometimes based on invalid or circumstantial reasons, that means that they are never liked or accepted in Middlemarch.
An issue that is related to societal expectation, but is somewhat different. People are supposed to conform to certain social ideals and normsDorothea is supposed to be a proper wife and then a proper widow, and follow society's set guidelines about how to fill each position. Will fits no position that society tries to group him into, so he is disliked; he refuses to be conventional or proper, or to fit into that society and its ideas of how someone like Will should act.
Love keeps people together, or the lack or it lets them drift apart. Those who are truly in lovelike Will and Dorothea, Mary and Fredare bound together by it, and are very alike in temperament and outlook. Those who lack itlike Lydgate and Rosamond, Casaubon and Dorotheaare ill-suited to each other in marriage, and are very disappointed by their unions.
Unity of Middlemarch
The decisions made by every person in Middlemarch seem to have a direct effect on at least one other person. Mary's decision to marry Fred means that Farebrother is without a wife. Dorothea's decision to choose Casaubon leads Sir James to choose Celia. Bulstrode's dirty dealings with regard to Raffles mean disgrace to both Lydgate and Will Ladislaw. Everyone in Middlemarch is intimately connected, and it seems that no one can move around without disturbing someone else

Societal Expectations
Closely linked to society's hierarchy, are ideas about how everyone should act in certain situations. Lydgate proposes to Rosamond because society expects that he should do it. Dorothea is pushed to live with someone else or marry again after she is widowed, because society expects that it is right. People don't necessarily follow these expectations, nor should they; but they do exist, and play a part in people's lives.
Especially relevant to Rosamond and her suitors. Rosamond is exceptionally vain about her charm and her appearances, so much so that it is a shock to her when her friend Ladislaw says he doesn't love her. Her unsuccessful suitors are all equally vain, and blame Lydgate, rather than Rosamond's lack of interest, when she won't return their favor.
There are certain truths which every character learns about himself in the course of trials; Lydgate and Rosamond find out more about their characters through their money troubles, though they do not always adjust accordingly. Dorothea makes the most dramatic journey of self-discovery, and changes a great deal within the course of the novel.
Reality vs. Expectations
Many characters' preconceived ideas, especially of marriage, are proven tragically wrong in the course of the book. Casaubon and Dorothea both have unrealistic ideas about marriage, and are disappointed. Lydgate and Rosamond have the same idea, and are let down. Life often defies what one expects, or could predict of it; and the people who are happiest are the ones who have few expectations, or are most flexible.
Conscience vs. self-interest
This is a question that comes to play in Lydgate's life in particular. Does one do what one thinks is right, or what gives one the most benefit? Lydgate often goes for self-interest, though it gets him into trouble.
Gender roles and expectations
Especially relevant to Dorothea. Middlemarch society has very defined ideas of what people of each gender should do within the society, and people, especially women, who deviate from this norm, are looked down upon. Dorothea is tolerated because she is of good family and does not disrupt the society she is in. However, she faces a great deal of pressure to change herself, conform to others' ideas, and submit herself to male leadership at all times

Much is changing in the world of Middlemarch; English society is evolving in social, economic, technologic areas. Socially, ideas of gender and class are in flux, as women are proving more and more competent, and the Industrial Revolution is causing a greater amount of social mobility. The economy of England is changing, from an aristocratic, inheritance- based system of holding wealth and land, to one based on commerce, business, and manufacturing. Technology is also changing, in medical science, and in areas like transportation, and these are changes that are beginning to sweep through Middlemarch.
This is something which both helps and hinders many people in the book, and is most applicable to Dorothea, Will Ladislaw, and Lydgate. With Lydgate, pride is a tumbling block, something that keeps him from putting his affairs in order, and sometimes doing what is necessary in his marriage and practice. Dorothea and Will's pride is more involved in who they are personallyneither of them likes to be regarded poorly, will defend themselves and their decisions if needed, and follow their own course with regards to everything.
Money is the root of many evils, but much good, in the novel. Lydgate gets desperate for want of it, Fred despairs when he has little, Dorothea becomes generous when she has too much, and the Garths carefully since their money is limited. Money has a profound effect on character within the novel, and though many people are judged by how much money they have, many of the best people in the novel, like Will Ladislaw and Mr. Farebrother, have very little.
Strength of rumor
Rumor can do a great deal of damage in Middlemarch, having even more weight than fact in some cases. Both Bulstrode and Lydgate are blackened by rumors passed around society, and Will is blackened as well, though he is falsely accused.
Everything is political in Middlemarch, with most people strongly backing the conservative party. Personal alliances and aversions are based on matters of politics and political identification. But even political matters, like all things, get personal; people decide who or who not to support by how they like them, even more so sometimes than any dependence on issues.
Family obligation
People within the novel have varying ideas of family obligation in the novel, though it is a strong force in Middlemarch society. Mr. Featherstone's relations believe they are entitled to money; Mrs. Bulstrode believes that she must help and advise her family in order to show support. Sir James shows his regard for his family by being very protective and a constant advisor as well. Casaubon dispenses of his obligation through money, and Bulstrode attempts also to do the same.
Social position
Social position means a great deal in Middlemarch; it means how much respect a person gets, how people treat them, how they are regarded, etc. People of high status are generally treated more delicately than people with little money, like Lydgate and Will Ladislaw. Birth and connections are also important in determining a person's place, and also what benefits they will receive from society

05-22-2010, 07:21 PM
: 10 - 11 - 2007
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  is a glorious beacon of light

pride and prejudice

pride and prejudice

Plot Summary

At Meryton

Perhaps the most famous opening lines from any nineteenth-century novel are the opening lines to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."

These words are spoken by Mrs. Bennet to Mr. Bennet on the news that a gentleman of fortune has just moved to Netherfield Park, a nearby estate. The Bennets begin this story with a peculiar problem: they have five unmarried daughters and no sons. Their estate is entailed, or restricted in inheritance, to Mr. Collins, a family cousin. Upon Mr. Bennet's death Mr. Collins will inherit the family lands, which will leave the Bennet daughters without a home or money. It becomes vital, therefore, that at least one of the daughters marries well in order to support and house their sisters (and mother if she is still alive) should they not be able to marry.

Shortly after arriving alone, Bingley brings to Netherfield his two sisters, Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst; his brother-in-law, Mr. Hurst; and his friend, Mr. Darcy, who also happens to be wealthy and unmarried. Not wanting to miss a favorable introduction to their new neighbors, Mrs. Bennet pleads with Mr. Bennet to call on Bingley so that she can begin introducing her daughters to him. Initially Mr. Bennet refuses to play any part in matching any one of his daughters with Bingley. He tells his wife that if is she is so intent on meeting the newcomers at Netherfield, she must visit Bingley herself. However, prudent manners forbade to woman call on a strange man, making Mrs. Bennet powerless to begin the process which she hopes will lead to a marriage between one of her daughters and Bingley. Following the pronouncement that Mr. Bennet refuses to call on Bingley, Mrs. Bennet despairs that her daughters will never be able to meet with the eligible bachelor. Yet Mr. Bennet does call on Bingley, beginning the family's acquaintance with him. He takes ironic pleasure in surprising Mrs. Bennet with the news after letting her believe that he would not call on him.

The Bennet girls meet the Netherfield party for the first time at a small ball. Bingley proves to be personable and polite to the local folk, making him instantly well-liked. Darcy, while handsome and noble looking, appears proud and indifferent to participating in the activities of the evening or even socializing with the other guests.

The eldest daughter, Jane, is instantly drawn to Bingley, and he seems equally attracted to her. Jane is portrayed as gentle, unselfish, and very mannerly. Elizabeth is also well mannered, but possess a very sharp wit and refuses to be intimidated by anyone. Inclined to be protective of Jane and her family, she nonetheless recognizes the faults of her parents and other sisters. At the assembly, because of a shortage of men who dance, Elizabeth is left sitting. She overhears Bingley encouraging to Darcy to dance, suggesting that he ask Elizabeth. Darcy curtly replies that "she is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men." Elizabeth, though insulted, refuses to give Darcy's comment any weight, instead telling the story to all her friends and ridiculing his pretentious behavior.

Jane and Bingley's relationship continues to deepen during family visits, balls, and dinners. His sisters pretend to like Jane, but are appalled by her mother's vulgarities, her younger sisters' wild, loose manners, and their lower economic position among the landed gentry. They find great amusement in making fun of the Bennets behind Jane's back. A particular point of hilarity stems from the way Kitty and Lydia chase after the young military officers stationed locally.

Jane rides on horseback through a rainstorm in acceptance of an invitation from the Bingley sisters. She consequently catches cold and must stay at Netherfield until she is well, much to Mrs. Bennet's delight. Thinking her sister might need attending, Elizabeth goes to stay with Jane until she is well. Darcy soon begins to demonstrate an interest in Elizabeth, making Miss Bingley jealous, as she has hopes of marrying him herself. In fact, Miss Bingley has a right to worry, as Darcy notes to himself that "were it not for the inferiority of [Elizabeth's] connections, he should be in some danger."

Soon Jane is well and returns home. Another visitor arrives in the person of Mr. Collins. He is a clergyman and will be the inheritor of the Bennet estate upon Mr. Bennet's death. Thinking himself generous, he decides to try to marry one of the Bennet daughters, so that any unmarried daughter will still be able to live at the family estate. His patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who is also Darcy's aunt, has urged him to marry. He obeys her, as usual, with servile haste. He becomes interested at first in Jane, but when Mrs. Bennet indicates that Jane is taken, he fastens on to Elizabeth. She refuses him, believing that a marriage without love is not a worthwhile endeavor. Mrs. Bennet breaks down in hysterics, though Elizabeth's father approves her decision. Within a day, Mr. Collins proposes to Charlotte Lucas, Elizabeth's best friend, who accepts him.

During Mr. Collins' visit, Lydia and Kitty meet an officer newly stationed in Meryton. Wickham becomes a favorite among the ladies, including Elizabeth. He claims to have grown up with Darcy, saying he is the son of the late Mr. Darcy's steward. He says that the younger Darcy has cheated him of his inheritance, forcing him into military service. Already inclined to believe the worst of Darcy, Elizabeth now believes she has proof of his poor character, never once questioning the truthfulness of Wickham's story.

The Bingleys hold a ball where all of the Bennet family's manners, with the exception of those of Jane and Elizabeth, are exposed as lacking, much to Elizabeth's mortification. Soon the Bingley party packs up and leaves Netherfield to live in London during the winter. A letter comes from Miss Bingley to Jane implying that Bingley might become engaged to Darcy's sister. Jane, while refusing to express her loss to anyone but Elizabeth, is devastated. When Elizabeth learns of Bingley's near engagement, she quickly realizes that Bingley's sister does not think Jane is a good marriage partner and has persuaded her brother that Jane is not really interested in him. Unlike Jane, who faults no one but herself for Bingley's departure, Elizabeth is furious with Miss Bingley, and perhaps Darcy, for interfering with her sister's happiness


Thinking that a change in scenery would improve Jane's condition, Mrs. Bennet's sister-in-law, Mrs. Gardiner, suggests that she spend part of the winter in London. While there, Jane is snubbed by Bingley's sisters and never even sees Bingley. Meanwhile, Elizabeth visits Charlotte and Mr. Collins in Kent, accompanied by Charlotte's sister and father. She sees Jane on the way and is sure that Darcy is keeping Bingley from visiting Jane.

In Kent, Lady Catherine honors the visitors, as Mr. Collins repeatedly informs them, with regular invitations. Elizabeth finds the woman to be haughty and ill-mannered, constantly thrusting her opinions on the others and fully expecting that they be followed without question. Elizabeth responds coolly to the other woman's prying. Darcy soon arrives in Kent, visiting regularly at the parsonage, sparring verbally with Elizabeth. Unexpectedly, he proposes marriage to her, explaining that he loves her in spite of her low family connections. Rather than being impressed and honored that such a highborn man should be interested in her, Elizabeth is insulted and refuses. She accuses him of being ungentlemanly, of destroying her sister's happiness, and finally of treating Mr. Wickham in an miserable manner. He storms away, but the next day presents her a letter answering her charges.

In the letter he states that he did keep Bingley from Jane, referring to the improprieties of her family and his sincere belief that Jane had no feelings for Bingley. He goes on to explain how Wickham squandered all the money the late Mr. Darcy left him and how he even attempted to elope with Georgiana, Darcy's sister, for a chance at her fortune. Elizabeth acknowledges the truth of his explanation, reproaching herself for believing Wickham without once questioning the truth of his story. Slowly, her prejudice against Darcy begins to weaken. Without seeing him again, she returns home.

In spite of Elizabeth's protests, Lydia goes with one of the officer's wives to Brighton, where the regiment is now stationed. Jane returns home from London, and Elizabeth leaves to travel with the Gardiners on a tour through the country which will take them to Derbyshire, the region where Mrs. Gardiner was born and where Darcy lives. They go to Pemberly, Darcy's home, believing that he is away and Elizabeth need not fear running into him. But he comes home earlier than expected. In spite of their mutual embarrassment, he treats Elizabeth and the Gardiners with courtesy, asking if he may introduce his sister to her. Surprised, Elizabeth agrees.

While in Derbyshire, Elizabeth enjoys her time with Darcy, Georgiana, Bingley, and Bingley's sisters. She becomes very fond of Darcy and almost believes that he may ask for her hand once more. A letter from Jane quickly dashes Elizabeth's hopes. Lydia has eloped with Wickham. Wracked with guilt that she might have prevented this disaster if she had made known what Wickham had done to Darcy's sister, Elizabeth rushes home. It is soon discovered that the runaways are not married, but hiding in London. Wickham lets it be known that he can be bribed to marry Lydia, so Mr. Gardiner arranges a quick wedding. With no other option, Mr. Bennet must consent, though he worries how he will repay Mr. Gardiner, who is surely providing the considerable bribe to Wickham. Once they are wed, Lydia and Wickham return to the welcoming arms of Mrs. Bennet, who refuses to be embarrassed by Lydia's lack of propriety.

All is Well

Lydia, heedlessly breaking her promise to Darcy, tells Elizabeth that Darcy attended their wedding. Elizabeth then convinces Mrs. Gardiner to give her the details. It turns out that Mr. Darcy arranged the wedding, paid off Wickham, purchased Wickham a commission in the army, and supplemented Lydia's small dowry.

Soon after, Bingley and Darcy return to Netherfield. They call on the Bennets and soon Bingley proposes to Jane, who happily accepts. Elizabeth, having developed feelings for Darcy, scrutinizes him, hoping that he still has feelings for her. But he soon leaves Netherfield.

An unexpected visit from Lady Catherine soon occurs. She has heard a wild rumor that Darcy and Elizabeth are soon to be engaged, and she wishes for Elizabeth to refute the rumor and promise never to become engaged to Darcy. It seems that she has hopes her sickly daughter will marry him. Unintimidated, Elizabeth refuses. Lady Catherine leaves in a rage, later repeating the conversation to Darcy, unwittingly giving him hope that Elizabeth is in love with him. He knows Elizabeth well enough to understand that had she "been absolutely, irrevocably decided against [him], [she] would have acknowledged it frankly and openly." He returns to Longbourne and proposes once again. Without hesitation, she accepts


Catherine Bennet

Catherine "Kitty" Bennet is virtually a nonentity in the Bennet family. Although she is the fourth sister, younger than Mary but older than Lydia, Austen reveals that she is "weak-spirited, irritable, and completely under Lydia's guidance ignorant, idle, and vain." However, the end of the novel is a bit encouraging for Kitty. Jane and Elizabeth make sure that she visits both of them frequently, and they introduce her to more intelligent and entreating society. Austen notes that this change in environment has an excellent effect on Kitty.

Elizabeth Bennet

"Elizabeth Bennet," writes Elizabeth Jenkins in her critical biography Jane Austen: A Biography, "has perhaps received more admiration than any other heroine in English literature." Elizabeth is the soul of Pride and Prejudice, who reveals in her own person the very title qualities that she spots so easily in her sisters and their suitors. Elizabeth has her father, Mr. Bennet's, quick wit and ironic sense of humor. Unlike her older sister Jane, she resists accepting all people uncritically. She is quick to recognize most people's principal characteristics for instance, she recognizes the stupidities of many members of her family and quickly characterizes Lady Catherine de Bourgh as a control addict and her sister's suitor Charles Bingley as a simple and good-hearted young man. But she is also, concludes Jenkins, "completely human. Glorious as she is, and beloved of her creator, she is kept thoroughly in her place. She was captivated by [George] Wickham, in which she showed herself no whit superior to the rest of female Meryton." When Elizabeth begins to accept her own impressions uncritically, she makes her worst mistakes.

Because Elizabeth is so keen an observer of other people, she recognizes her mother's silliness and vows not to be caught in the same trap as her father. This refusal, however, is itself a trap. By trusting entirely to her own observations (pride) and her own initial assessments of people (prejudice), Elizabeth threatens her future happiness with Fitzwilliam Darcy. "Above all," concludes Jenkins, "there is her prejudice against Darcy, and though their first encounter was markedly unfortunate, she built on it every dislike it could be made to bear; her eager condemnation of him and her no less eager remorse when she found that she had been mistaken, are equally lovable."

Jane Bennet

Jane Bennet is Elizabeth's older sister, the most beautiful and amiable of the Bennet sisters. Her father considers her too willing to please and believes that she lacks the character to deal with life's difficulties. He tells Jane, "You are so complying, that nothing will ever be resolved on; so easy, that every servant will cheat you; and so generous, that you will always exceed your income." Jane eventually marries the equally amiable Charles Bingley.

Lydia Bennet

Lydia is the youngest of the Bennet daughters and perhaps the silliest. Austen describes her as "a stout, well-grown girl of fifteen, with a fine complexion and good-humoured countenance; a favorite with her mother, whose affection had brought her into public at an early age." Rather than spend any of her day receiving any sort of education, Lydia instead devotes all of her energies to collecting gossip about their neighbors, freely spending money about the town, and flirting with young men. Although all the Bennet girls are initially attracted to George Wickham, it is the headstrong Lydia who elopes with him and who is eventually married to him. Lydia's impudent actions put her sisters' marriage prospects in jeopardy, but she shows no signs of remorse; unlike Elizabeth and Darcy, she does not learn from her mistakes.

Mary Bennet

Mary Bennet is the third Bennet daughter, younger than Elizabeth and Jane and older than Catherine and Lydia. Rather than prancing around town flirting with young men, Mary considers herself an intellectual and would rather enjoy the company of a book. But Austen reveals that she overestimates her own talents and intelligence, saying that Mary "had neither genius nor taste; and though vanity had given her application, it had given her likewise a pedantic air and conceited manner, which would have injured a higher degree of excellence than she had reached."

Mr. Bennet

Austen describes Mr. Bennet, the father of the five Bennet girls (Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Catherine, and Lydia), as "so odd a mixture of quick parts, sarcastic, humour, reserve, and caprice, that the experience of three and twenty years had been insufficient to make his wife understand his character." He is mildly well-off. Austen reports that he has an income of two thousand pounds sterling a year, enough for his family to live comfortably but socially he ranks toward the bottom of the scale of the landed gentry. This is one of the reasons that people like Fitzwilliam Darcy and Lady Catherine de Bourgh regard the family with some disdain.

Mr. Bennet is one of the primary means by which the author expresses her ironic wit. He shares this quality with Elizabeth, his favorite daughter. However, unlike Elizabeth's, Mr. Bennet's wit is usually expressed in sarcastic asides directed at his wife. Unlike his daughter, Mr. Bennet does not question or examine his own life, and his situation never improves. In addition, he allows his younger daughters to behave as carelessly and improperly as his wife. His inattention to his own family results in his daughter Lydia eloping with the despicable George Wickham.

Mr. and Mrs. Bennet are not well matched. Her silliness does not mix well with his sarcastic wit. Mr. Bennet recognizes this, and it is one of the reasons he instills in his daughter Elizabeth the importance of matching temperaments with her husband

Mrs. Bennet

Mrs. Bennet, Austen reports, is "a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper. When she was discontented, she fancied herself nervous. The business of her life was to get her daughters married; its solace was visiting and news." Mrs. Bennet is primarily concerned with the outer aspects of her society: the importance of marrying well in society without regard to the suitability of the personalities in the match. Neither does Mrs. Bennet have any regard for respecting proper manners and behavior. She is continually embarrassing Elizabeth and Jane with her inappropriate comments and schemes to marry off her daughters. Additionally, Elizabeth finds her mother's influence on the younger Bennet daughters particularly disturbing. Mrs. Bennet allows the younger girls to devote all their time searching for eligible young bachelors, neglecting any form of education. It is perhaps because of Mrs. Bennet's attitudes that her youngest daughter, Lydia, elopes with the despicable George Wickham.

Caroline Bingley

Caroline Bingley is the sister of Charles Bingley. She and her sister are very proud of her family's wealth conveniently forgetting, Austen notes, "that their brother's fortune and their own had been acquired by trade." They are willing to go to great lengths to prevent his marriage into the poorer Bennet family. It is Caroline who reveals to Jane Bennet her plans to have Charles marry Fitzwilliam Darcy's sister Georgiana.

Charles Bingley

Charles Bingley is a friend of Fitzwilliam Darcy and the new occupant of the Netherfield estate, which neighbors the Bennet's home, Longbourn. It is through Bingley that Elizabeth first meets Darcy and is unimpressed by Darcy's manners. Bingley, whom Austen describes as "goodlooking and gentlemanlike; he had a pleasant countenance and easy, unaffected manners," is very attracted to Jane Bennet. This affection distresses his sisters, including Caroline Bingley, and Darcy himself. They all believe that the Bennet family is too far down the social ladder to deserve such attention from him. Ironically, Charles himself has received his fortune by his family's interest in trade, considerably less respectable than Darcy's wealth inherited by birthright. Charles' sisters and Darcy deliberately give Elizabeth Bennet the impression that Bingley is to marry Darcy's sister, Georgiana, after he leaves for London. Eventually, however, Bingley returns to Netherfield and marries Jane.

Mr. William Collins

Mr. William Collins is Mr. Bennet's nephew and a clergyman. Because Mr. Bennet has no sons, Collins is in line to inherit Mr. Bennet's estate. Austen describes him as "not a sensible man, and the deficiency of nature had been but little assisted by education or society." Mr. Bennet enjoys Collins's visit to his home because he appreciates Collins's naive stupidity, but Elizabeth resents his attentions and rejects his marriage proposal. She is very distressed when her friend Charlotte Lucas decides to marry Mr. Collins out of interest in his estate rather than his personality.

Fitzwilliam Darcy

Fitzwilliam Darcy, like Elizabeth Bennet, combines in his character the prime characteristics of Pride and Prejudice: his aristocratic demeanor (pride) and his belief in the natural superiority of the wealthy landed gentry (prejudice). Darcy sometimes unconsciously assumes that a lack of money or social status are characteristics that disqualify people from marrying or loving each other. Elizabeth quickly discovers this aspect of his character, and it is her flat rejection of his first proposal of marriage that sparks his eventual change of heart. He recognizes the essential arrogance of his upbringing and repents of it; he tells Elizabeth, "By you I was properly humbled. I came to you without a doubt of my reception. You showed me how insufficient were all my pretensions to please a woman worthy of being pleased." In return for the privilege of become Elizabeth's husband, he is willing to put up with her three silly sisters, her equally silly mother, and even the scoundrel George Wickham as a brother-in-law.

Some critics maintain that this change of heart was nothing more than the uncovering of Darcy's innate characteristics. "Darcy's essential character is independent of circumstances," states Elizabeth Jenkins in her critical biography Jane Austen: A Biography. "He had the awkwardness and stiffness of a man who mixes little with society and only on his own terms, but it was also the awkwardness and stiffness that is found with Darcy's physical type, immediately recognizable among the reserved and inarticulate English of to-day." This analysis suggests that Darcy's character is more like that of his sister, Georgiana Darcy, a painfully shy girl. Georgiana Darcy's shyness and awkwardness and Fitzwilliam Darcy's arrogance and harshness come from the same roots. It is, however, Darcy's ability to examine his own life and recognize his flaws and his courage in approaching Elizabeth Bennet again, after she had already rejected him once, that leads to their eventual marriage and life together

Georgiana Darcy

Georgiana Darcy is Fitzwilliam Darcy's younger sister. She is extremely shy and uncomfortable in company. Austen describes her as "tall and, though little more than sixteen, her figure was formed, and her appearance womanly and graceful. She was less handsome than her brother, but there was sense and good humour in her face, and her manners were perfectly unassuming and gentle." Elizabeth Bennet expects that she will dislike Georgiana just as much as she initially dislikes her brother, but she turns out to be favorably impressed. Her impressions of Georgiana are among the first intimations Elizabeth has that her conclusions about Darcy may be wrong.

Miss Anne de Bourgh

Anne de Bourgh is the only daughter of Lady Catherine de Bourgh and the late Sir Lewis de Bourgh. Her mother plans to marry the sickly Anne to her cousin, Fitzwilliam Darcy.

Lady Catherine de Bourgh

Lady Catherine de Bourgh is Fitzwilliam Darcy's aunt. A proud, unforgiving woman, she is a control addict who likes to tell everyone what to do. She is scheming to have her nephew marry her own daughter, Anne de Bourgh, whom Austen describes as "sickly and cross." Elizabeth quickly realizes that Lady Catherine is a petty tyrant, but she seizes upon this revelation as an excuse to conclude that Fitzwilliam Darcy is himself equally flawed. Lady Catherine makes a final attempt to create a breach between Darcy and Elizabeth in the final chapters of the book, but her attempt backfires and only serves to help bring them together.

Colonel Fitzwilliam

Colonel Fitzwilliam is Darcy's cousin. He is the younger son of an earl and, although "not handsome," explains Austen, "in person and address [he was] most truly the gentleman." He develops a fondness for Elizabeth Bennet, but realistically admits that as a younger son he must marry for wealth, not love.

Mr. Edward Gardiner

Mr. Gardiner is Mrs. Bennet's brother, whom Austen describes as "a sensible, gentlemanlike man, greatly superior to his sister as well by nature as education." He and his wife take Elizabeth Bennet on a tour of Derbyshire, including a side trip to Darcy's estate at Pemberley. He also tries to help Mr. Bennet locate Wickham and Lydia after they elope. Mr. Gardner and his wife are among the few relatives Elizabeth can be assured will not embarrass her.

Mrs. M. Gardiner

Mrs. Gardiner, Edward Gardiner's wife and Elizabeth Bennet's aunt, is according to Austen "an amiable, intelligent, elegant woman, and a great favourite with all her Longbourn nieces." She accompanies Elizabeth on a tour of Fitzwilliam Darcy's estate at Pemberley.

Mr. Hurst

Mr. Hurst is the husband of Mr. Charles Bingley's sister Louisa. He is lazy, says Austen, an "indolent man who lived only to eat, drink, and play at cards, who when he found [Elizabeth to] prefer a plain dish to a ragout, had nothing to say to her."

Mrs. Louisa Hurst

Louisa Hurst is the wife of Mr. Hurst and the sister of Mr. Charles Bingley and Caroline Bingley. She plots with her sister to remove their brother's affection from Jane Bennet and transfer it to someone more suitable.

Charlotte Lucas

Charlotte Lucas is Elizabeth Bennet's best friend. She distresses Elizabeth by deciding to marry William Collins, Mr. Bennet's nephew, out of interest in his estate. Up until this point Elizabeth had respected Charlotte's sensibility, but her decision to marry Mr. Collins lost her much of Elizabeth's respect.

Lady Lucas

Lady Lucas is the wife of Sir William Lucas and mother of Elizabeth Bennet's friend Charlotte Lucas. Austen describes her as "a very good kind of woman, not too clever to be a valuable neighbor to Mrs. Bennet."

Sir William Lucas

A close neighbor of the Bennets, he earned most of his income through trade. His daughter, Charlotte, marries Mr. Collins, Mr. Bennet's heir.

Mr. Philips

Mrs. Bennet's brother-in-law, Mr. Philips is an attorney. He hosts the party at which Wickham tells Elizabeth about Darcy's withholding a promised legacy. Already having a negative first impression of Darqy, Elizabeth unquestioningly accepts Wickham's story as evidence that Darcy is a miserable person. When she discovers that it is actually Wickham who wronged Darcy, Elizabeth feels terrible for allowing her pride to interfere with an objective judgement of Darcy.

Mrs. Philips

Mrs. Bennet's sister, Mrs. Philips, is described by Austen as a silly, vulgar woman.

George Wickham

Lieutenant George Wickham is an unscrupulous man who schemes to win money by marrying a wealthy heiress. He is physically quite attractive; Austen says of him that "he had all the best part of beauty, a fine countenance, a good figure, and a very pleasing address." His father was once the steward of Darcy's estates, and Wickham plays on the relationship by trying to elope with Georgiana Darcy, Fitzwilliam Darcy's sister. Darcy gave Wickham a cash payment after Wickham turned down a comfortable church position the late Mr. Darcy provided for him. After Wickham elopes with Lydia Bennet, Darcy tracks him down, bribes him into marrying Lydia, and buys him an officer's rank in the army. Wickham is presented in the novel as a man totally without principle



The two major themes of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice are summed up in the title. The first aspect can be traced in the actions and statements of all of the work's major and many of its minor characters. Pride is the character flaw that causes Elizabeth Bennet to dislike Fitzwilliam Darcy upon their first meeting. She perceives in him a cold aloofness that she attributes to his own inflated opinion of himself. Yet Elizabeth herself also suffers from the same flaw; her pride in her own ability to analyze character is such that she refuses to reevaluate Darcy in the face of evidence in his favor.

In some characters, Austen depicts pride overtly. Lady Charlotte de Bourgh is motivated by pride in her family's status to try to break up a potential match between Elizabeth and Darcy. Mrs. Louisa Hurst and Caroline Bingley try to achieve the same effect with the relationship between their brother Charles Bingley and Jane Bennet. In each case, however, Austen depicts the pride of these minor characters as ridiculous: "Austen treats pride," writes Robert B. Heilman in "E pluribus unum: Parts and Whole in Pride and Prejudice," "as if it were wholly unproblematic, a failing no less clear-cut than prejudice."

In the case of Elizabeth and Darcy, however, Austen treats pride less directly. On his first appearance in the novel, Darcy appears "above his company and above being pleased," reports Heilman, the "proudest, most disagreeable man in the world." The people who record these observations, the critic continues, "believe that they are seeing sense of superiority, snobbishness, excessive self-approval." However, they do not take into consideration that some of the other behavior that Darcy exhibits, such as "reserve, an apparent unresponsiveness to overtures, a holding back from conventional intercourse, pleasantries, and small talk," may actually stem from a quiet personality. So what appears to be pride may be simple shyness or awkwardness. When Elizabeth and others consider Darcy full of pride, they are also condemning him, says Heilman, for not obeying the rules of the "neighborhood social ways." For Darcy and Elizabeth, at least, pride can be more than a simple negative quality.

In fact, pride serves several different functions in the novel. In addition to the misplaced pride of the minor characters, there are characters who neglect to honor their pride when they should protect it. Elizabeth's friend Charlotte Lucas decides to marry William Collins, the heir to Mr. Bennet's estate, out of a simple desire to make his estate her own. Elizabeth strongly objects to such a union; it offends her sense of pride for someone to enter into a loveless marriage for purely material purposes. The George Wickham-Lydia Bennet elopement is another example of an arrangement where pride should have been taken into consideration and was not. In this way, Heilman states, Austen defines pride as "the acceptance of responsibility. This indispensably fills out a story that has devoted a good deal of time to the view of pride as an easy and blind self-esteem." Gradually, even Darcy and Elizabeth herself come to a realization of the necessity not to reject pride, but to control it

Prejudice and Tolerance

The subject of prejudice is linked to pride in the title of Pride and Prejudice. It is also more directly linked to Elizabeth Bennet's character. From the beginning, states Marvin Mudrick in "Irony as Discrimination: Pride and Prejudice," "Elizabeth sets herself up as an ironic spectator, able and prepared to judge and classify, already making the first large division of the world into two sorts of people: the simple ones, those who give themselves away out of shallowness (as Bingley fears) or perhaps openness (as Elizabeth implies) or an excess of affection (as Mr. Collins will demonstrate); and the intricate ones, those who cannot be judged and classified so easily, who are 'the most amusing' to the ironic spectator because they offer the most formidable challenge to his powers of detection and analysis." Elizabeth is prepared to divide the entire world into one of these two categories an extreme example of prejudice in the "pre-judging" sense of the term. It is most evident in her judgment of Darcy; so sure is she of her powers of observation that she refuses to reevaluate Darcy even when the weight of evidence begins to turn in favor of him.

It is not until Darcy overcomes his own prejudice against those of lower social station by treating Elizabeth and the Gardiners graciously and considerately at Netherfield that Elizabeth's opinion of him begins to change. "Not only do Elizabeth and Darcy have the most serious problem of surmounting barriers of misconception and adverse feeling," Heilman declares, "but they are the most sensitive both in susceptibility to injured feelings and in capacity for getting to the center of things to matters of prejudice and pride." The ending "is a remarkable tracing of Elizabeth's coming around to a completely changed point of view," the critic concludes. "To Jane she acknowledges that she has cultivated her 'prejudices' and has been 'weak and vain and nonsensical."' With this realization Elizabeth begins the process of change that will eventually bring herself and Darcy together.

Change and Transformation

The major characters of the novel suffer from a combination of the two title characteristics of Pride and Prejudice. What separates Elizabeth and Darcy from the silly minor characters, such as Wickham, Lydia, Mr. Collins, and Lady Catherine, and even from the good minor characters such as Mr. Bennet, Jane, and Charles Bingley, is their ability and willingness to learn and grow, to overcome their initial shortcomings. They mature and come to a better understanding of each other by the novel's end through a slow and painful growth process.

Darcy begins his process of transformation with Elizabeth's rejection of his suit. He makes his proposal to her clumsily, stressing his own wealth and position (and minimizing hers) and stating that he has tried to suppress his feelings because of the low position of her family. When Elizabeth indignantly rejects his hand, accusing him of arrogance and selfishness, Darcy begins a process of reevaluation of his behavior. When he next appears in the story at the beginning of Volume 3 he is much friendlier and more attentive to Elizabeth. She begins to feel an attraction to him that is not fully realized until the Wickham-Lydia elopement is fully resolved. Darcy completes his transformation by swallowing his pride and proposing to Elizabeth again, in spite of the fact that her acceptance will make the silly Bennet girls his sisters-in-law and the detestable Wickham his brother-in-law.

Elizabeth's process of transformation begins later and takes longer. She realizes her own prejudices toward Darcy in Chapter 12 of Volume 2, when he gives her the letter in which he reveals the truth about Wickham and his role in the breakup of the Bingley-Jane relationship. She does not complete the change, however, until the end of Volume 3, when Lady Catherine de Bourgh demands assurances from her that she will not accept a proposal from him. Elizabeth refuses, and by doing so gives Darcy his first hint that his feelings for her are at last reciprocated. "By a slow revision of preconceptions," concludes Heilman, " Elizabeth and Darcy 'earn' the better insight and rapport that insight makes possible



The novel Pride and Prejudice was written during the middle of the Romantic period in western literature, but it is itself rather uncharacteristic of other fictional works of the period. Unlike the great Romantic novels and poems of the period, which usually praised youthful passions, Austen's work minimizes them. Compared to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's classic sturm und drang novel The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774), in which the young hero is unsuccessful at love and, unable to make his inner visions conform to the reality of the outer world, finally commits suicide, Austen's works are models of restraint. Instead of the wild forces of nature, Austen concentrates on family life in small English towns. Instead of rampant emotionalism, Austen emphasizes a balance between reason and emotion. Instead of suicide and unrequited love, Austen offers elopement and marriage. Although the author does consider some of the same themes as her Romantic contemporaries the importance of the individual, for instance Austen's society is altogether more controlled and settled than the world presented in Romantic fiction.


Irony, or the contrast between the expected and the actual, is the chief literary device Austen uses to comment on the small, enclosed world of the English gentry in Pride and Prejudice. Her irony takes different forms for different characters. Perhaps the most ironic character in the entire book is Mr. Bennet, father of the five Bennet sisters. Mr. Bennet is married to a silly woman he cannot respect, who centers her life on marrying her daughters off to wealthy, well-bred men. He expresses his discontent in the marriage by criticizing his wife's stream of comments. Many of these are sarcastic and hurtful, and contribute to the misunderstandings between the couple that leave them incapable of dealing with the disastrous elopement of their youngest daughter Lydia with the detestable George Wickham. Mr. Bennet's conscious use of irony is for him a game it serves no useful purpose.

For the author, in the persona of Mr. Bennet's daughter Elizabeth, however, irony is both a toy and a defensive weapon in the war against stupidity. The author uses Elizabeth to skewer selfimportant characters such as Mr. Collins and Mrs. Bennet. Yet Elizabeth is also blind to her own character faults, and her very blindness is another example of Austen's use of irony. In her misunderstandings with Darcy, she (who is blind to her own pride in her ability to read character) accuses him of excessive pride, while he (who is prejudiced against people with less money than he has) accuses her of prejudice. The on-again, off-again love between Jane Bennet and Charles Bingley is also an example of Austen's use of irony to underline messages about love and marriage. "Jane and Bingley provide us, then, with one of the book's primary ironies," writes Marvin Mudrick in "Irony as Discrimination: Pride and Prejudice": "that love is simple, straightforward, and immediate only for very simple people." "In Pride and Prejudice," concludes Mudrick, "Jane Austen's irony has developed into an instrument of discrimination between the people who are simple reproductions of the social type and the people with individuality and will, between the unaware and the aware."

Other examples of Austen's use of irony abound in the novel. "Many pages of Pride and Prejudice can be read as sheer poetry of wit, as [Alexander] Pope without couplets," writes Reuben A. Brower in "Light and Bright and Sparkling: Irony and Fiction in Pride and Prejudice." "The triumph of the novel whatever its limitations may be lies in combining such poetry of wit," the critic concludes, "with the dramatic structure of fiction."

05-22-2010, 07:23 PM
: 10 - 11 - 2007
: 14,922
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  is a glorious beacon of light


Richard III


Plot Overview

After a long civil war between the royal family of York and the royal family of Lancaster, England enjoys a period of peace underKing Edward IVand the victorious Yorks. But Edwards younger brother,Richard, resents Edwards power and the happiness of those around him. Malicious, power-hungry, and bitter about his physical deformity, Richard begins to aspire secretly to the throneand decides to kill anyone he has to in order to become king.
Using his intelligence and his skills of deception and political manipulation, Richard begins his campaign for the throne. He manipulates a noblewoman, LadyAnne, into marrying himeven though she knows that he murdered her first husband. He has his own older brother,Clarence, executed, and shifts the burden of guilt onto his sick older brother King Edward in order to accelerate Edwards illness and death. After King Edward dies, Richard becomes lord protector of Englandthe figure in charge until the elder of Edwards two sons grows up.
Next Richard kills the court noblemen who are loyal to the princes, most notably LordHastings, the lord chamberlain of England. He then has the boys relatives on their mothers sidethe powerful kinsmen of Edwards wife,Queen Elizabetharrested and executed. WithElizabethand the princes now unprotected, Richard has his political allies, particularly his right-hand man, LordBuckingham, campaign to have Richard crowned king. Richard then imprisons the young princes in the Tower and, in his bloodiest move yet, sends hired murderers to kill both children.
By this time, Richards reign of terror has caused the common people of England to fear and loathe him, and he has alienated nearly all the noblemen of the courteven the power-hungry Buckingham. When rumors begin to circulate about a challenger to the throne who is gathering forces in France, noblemen defect in droves to join his forces. The challenger is the earl ofRichmond, a descendant of a secondary arm of the Lancaster family, and England is ready to welcome him.
Richard, in the meantime, tries to consolidate his power. He has his wife, Queen Anne, murdered, so that he can marry young Elizabeth, the daughter of the former Queen Elizabeth and the dead King Edward. Though young Elizabeth is his niece, the alliance would secure his claim to the throne. Nevertheless, Richard has begun to lose control of events, and Queen Elizabeth manages to forestall him. Meanwhile, she secretly promises to marry young Elizabeth to Richmond.
Richmond finally invades England. The night before the battle that will decide everything, Richard has a terrible dream in which the ghosts of all the people he has murdered appear and curse him, telling him that he will die the next day. In the battle on the following morning, Richard is killed, and Richmond is crowned King Henry VII. Promising a new era of peace for England, the new king is betrothed to young Elizabeth in order to unite the warring houses of Lancaster and York.

Act I, scene i

. . . since I cannot prove a lover
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.


Richard, the duke of Gloucester, speaks in a monologue addressed to himself and to the audience. After a lengthy civil war, he says, peace at last has returned to the royal house of England. Richard says that his older brother, King Edward IV, now sits on the throne, and everyone around Richard is involved in a great celebration. But Richard himself will not join in the festivities. He complains that he was born deformed and ugly, and bitterly laments his bad luck. He vows to make everybody around him miserable as well. Moreover, Richard says, he is power-hungry, and seeks to gain control over the entire court. He implies that his ultimate goal is to make himself king.
Working toward this goal, Richard has set in motion various schemes against the other noblemen of the court. The first victim is Richards own brother, Clarence. Richard and Clarence are the two younger brothers of the current king, Edward IV, who is very ill and highly suggestible at the moment. Richard says that he has planted rumors to make Edward suspicious of Clarence.
Clarence himself now enters, under armed guard. Richards rumor-planting has worked, and Clarence is being led to the Tower of London, where English political prisoners were traditionally imprisoned and often executed. Richard, pretending to be very sad to see Clarence made a prisoner, suggests to Clarence that King Edward must have been influenced by his wife, Queen Elizabeth, or by his mistress, Lady Shore, to become suspicious of Clarence. Richard promises that he will try to have Clarence set free. But after Clarence is led offstage toward the Tower, Richard gleefully says to himself that he will make sure Clarence never returns.
Lord Hastings, the lord Chamberlain of the court, now enters. He was earlier imprisoned in the Tower by the suspicious King Edward, but has now been freed. Richard, pretending ignorance, asks Hastings for the latest news, and Hastings tells him that Edward is very sick. After Hastings leaves, Richard gloats over Edwards illness. Edwards death would bring Richard one step closer to the throne. Richard wants Clarence to die first, however, so that Richard will be the legal heir to power. Richards planned next step is to try to marry a noblewoman named Lady Anne
Neville. An alliance with her would help Richard on his way to the throne. Lady Anne recently has been widowedshe was married to the son of the previous king, Henry VI, who recently was deposed and murdered, along with his son, by Richards family. Anne is thus in deep mourning. But the sadistic and amoral Richard is amused by the idea of persuading her to marry him under these circumstances

Act I, scene ii


LadyAnne, the widow of King Henry VIs son,Edward, enters the royal castle with a group of men bearing the coffin of Henry VI. She cursesRichardfor having killed Henry. Both Henry VI and Edward, who were of the House of Lancaster, have recently been killed by members of the House of York, the family of the current king, Edward IV, and Richard. Anne says that Richard is to blame for both deaths. She refers spitefully to her husbands killer as she mourns for the dead king and prince, praying that any child Richard might have be deformed and sick, and that he make any woman he might marry be as miserable as Anne herself is.
Suddenly, Richard himself enters the room. Anne reacts with horror and spite, but Richard orders the attendants to stop the procession so that he can speak with her. He addresses Anne gently, but she curses him as the murderer of her husband and father-in-law. Anne points to the bloody wounds on the corpse of the dead Henry VI, saying that they have started to bleed. (According to Renaissance tradition, the wounds of a murdered person begin to bleed again if the killer comes close to the corpse.)
Praising Annes gentleness and beauty, Richard begins to court her romantically. Anne naturally reacts with anger and horror and reminds Richard repeatedly that she knows he killed her husband and King Henry. He tells Anne that she ought to forgive him his crime out of Christian charity, then denies that he killed her husband at all. Anne remains angry, but her fierceness seems to dwindle gradually in the face of Richards eloquence and apparent sincerity. Finally, in a highly theatrical gesture, Richard kneels before her and hands her his sword, telling her to kill him if she will not forgive him, indicating that he doesnt want to live if she hates him. Anne begins to stab toward his chest, but Richard keeps speaking, saying that he killed Henry IV and Edward out of passion for Anne herselfAnnes beauty drove him to it. Anne lowers the sword.
Richard slips his ring onto her finger, telling her that she can make him happy only by forgiving him and becoming his wife. Anne says that she may take the ring but that she will not give him her hand. Richard persists, and Anne agrees to meet him later at a place he names.
As soon as Richard is alone, he gleefully begins to celebrate his conquest of Anne. He asks scornfully whether she has already forgotten her husband, murdered by his (Richards) hand. He gloats over having won her even while her eyes were still filled with the tears of mourning, and over having manipulated her affections even though she hates him.
Act I, scene iii

Thou elvish-marked, abortive, rooting hog,
Thou that wast sealed in thy nativity
The slave of nature and the son of hell.


Queen Elizabeth, the wife of the sicklyKing Edward IV, enters with members of her family: her brother, LordRivers, and her two sons from a prior marriage, Lord Gray and the Marquis of Dorset. The queen tells her relatives that she is fearful because her husband is growing sicker and seems unlikely to survive his illness. The king and queen have two sons, but the princes are still too young to rule. If King Edward dies, control of the throne will go toRicharduntil the oldest son comes of age.Elizabethtells her kinsmen that Richard is hostile to her and that she fears for her safety and that of her sons.
Two noblemen enter: the duke ofBuckingham, andStanley, the earl of Derby. They report that King Edward is doing better, and that he wants to make peace between Richard and Elizabeths kinsmen, between whom there is long-standing hostility.
Suddenly, Richard enters, complaining loudly. He announces that, because he is such an honest and plainspoken man, the people at court slander him, pretending that he has said hostile things about Elizabeths kinsmen. He then accuses Elizabeth and her kinsmen of hoping that Edward will die soon. Elizabeth, forced to go on the defensive, tells Richard that Edward simply wants to make peace among all of them. But Richard accuses Elizabeth of having engineered the imprisonment ofClarencean imprisonment that is actually Richards doing (as we have learned in Act I, scene i).
Elizabeth and Richards argument escalates. As they argue, old QueenMargaretenters unobserved. As she watches Richard and Elizabeth fight, Margaret comments bitterly to herself about how temporary power is, and she condemns Richard for his part in the death of her husband, Henry VI, and his son, Prince Edward. Finally, Margaret steps forward out of hiding. She accuses Elizabeth and Richard of having caused her downfall and tells them that they do not know what sorrow is. She adds that Elizabeth enjoys the privileges of being queen, which should be Margarets, and that Richard is to blame for the murders of her family. The others, startled to see her because they thought that she had been banished from the kingdom, join together against her.
Margaret, bitter about her overthrow and the killing of her family by the people who stand before her, begins to curse all those present. She prays that Elizabeth will outlive her glory, and see her husband and children die before her, just as Margaret has. She cursesHastings, Rivers, and Dorset to die early deaths, since they were all bystanders when the York family murdered her son, Edward. Finally, she curses Richard, praying to the heavens that Richard will mistake his friends for enemies, and vice versa, and that he will never sleep peacefully.
Margaret leaves, andCatesby, a nobleman, enters to say that King Edward wants to see his family and speak with them. The others leave, but Richard stays behind. He announces that he has set all his plans in motion and is deceiving everybody into thinking that he is really a good person. Two new men now enter, murderers whom Richard has hired to kill his brother, Clarence, currently imprisoned in the Tower of London

Act I, scene iv


Inside the Tower of London, the imprisoned Clarence tells Brackenbury, the lieutenant of the tower, about the strange dream he had the night before. Clarence says he dreamed that he was outside of the tower and about to set sail for France, along with his brother, Richard. But as they walked along the deck of the ship, Richard stumbled, and when Clarence tried to help him, Richard accidentally pushed him into the ocean. Clarence saw all the treasures of the deep laid out before him, as his drowning was prolonged for a very long time. He struggled to give up the ghost, but had to feel the terrible pain of drowning over and over again. Clarence then dreamed that he visited the underworld, where he saw the ghosts of those for whose deaths he had been partly responsible in the recent overthrow of the monarchy. In particular, Clarence dreamed that he saw the ghost of Prince Edwardthe son of Henry VI and first husband of Lady Annewhom Clarence himself had helped to kill. Prince Edward cried out aloud, cursing Clarence, and the Furies seized Clarence to drag him down to hell. Clarence then woke from the dream, trembling and terrified.
Brackenbury commiserates with Clarence, and Clarence, who has a foreboding of evil, asks him to stay with him while he sleeps. Brackenbury agrees, and Clarence falls asleep.
Suddenly, Richards hired murderers enter unannounced. They rudely hand Brackenbury the warrant that Richard gave thema legal document that orders Brackenbury to leave them alone with Clarence, no questions asked. Brackenbury leaves quickly.
Left alone with the sleeping Clarence, the two murderers debate how best to kill him. Both suffer some pangs of conscience, but the memory of the reward Richard offers them overcomes their qualms. Eventually they decide to beat him with their swords and then to drown him in the keg of wine in the next room. But Clarence suddenly wakes and pleads with them for his life. The murderers waver in their resolve, and Clarence finally asks them to go to his brother Richard, who, Clarence thinks, will reward them for sparing his life. One of the murderers hesitates, but, the other, after revealing to the unbelieving Clarence that it is Richard who has sent them to kill him, stabs Clarence, and puts his body in the keg. The murderers flee the scene before anyone comes to investigate

Act II, scenes iii

Summary: Act II, scene i

A flourish of trumpets sounds, and the sickly King Edward IV enters with his family, his wifes family, and his advisors. Edward says that there has been too much quarreling among these factions, and he insists that everybody apologize and make peace with one another. He also announces that he has sent a letter of forgiveness to the Tower of London, where his brother Clarence has been imprisoned and sentenced to death. (At this point, King Edward does not know that his other brother, Richard, has intercepted his message and has caused Clarence to be killed.)
With a great deal of urging, King Edward finally gets the noblemen Buckingham andHastings to make peace withQueen Elizabeth and her kinsmen (Rivers, Dorset, and Gray), promising to forget their long-standing conflicts. Richard himself then enters, and, at the kings request, gives a very noble-sounding speech in which he apologizes for any previous hostility toward Buckingham, Hastings, or the queens family, and presents himself as a friend to all. Peace seems to have been restored.
But when Elizabeth asks King Edward to forgive Clarence and summon him to the palace, Richard reacts as if Elizabeth is deliberately making fun of him. He springs the news of Clarences death on the group. With calculated manipulation, he reminds Edward of his guilt in condemning Clarence to death and says that the cancellation of the sentence was delivered too slowly. The grieving, guilty Edward begins to blame himself for his brothers death.
Stanley, the earl of Derby, suddenly rushes in to beg the king to spare the life of a servant condemned to death. Edward angrily blasts his noblemen for not having interceded to Clarence when the king himself let his anger run away with him. The already sick Edward suddenly seems to grow sicker, suffering from grief and guilt. He has to be helped to his bed

Summary: Act II, scene ii

Later, in another room in the palace, the duchess of York, the mother of Richard, Clarence, and King Edward, is comforting Clarences two young children. The boy and girl ask their grandmother if their father is dead, and she, lying to try to spare them, tells them he is not. But the duchess knows how evil her son Richard really is and that he killed his brother, and she grieves that she ever gave birth to him.
Suddenly, Elizabeth enters, lamenting out loud with her hair disheveled, a common sign of grief on the Elizabethan stage. Elizabeth tells the duchess that King Edward has died, and the duchess joins her in mourning. All four make ritualistic lamentations. The two children cry for their dead father, Clarence; Elizabeth cries for her dead husband, Edward; and the duchess cries for both of her dead sonsEdward and Clarence.
Elizabeths kinsmen, Rivers and Dorset, remind Elizabeth that she must think of her eldest son, the prince. Young Prince Edward, named after his father, is the heir to the throne; he must be called to London and crowned. Suddenly, however, Richard enters, along with Buckingham, Hastings, Stanley, andRatcliffe. Buckingham and Richard smoothly agree that the prince should be brought to London, but say that only a few people should go to get him, deciding the two of them will go together. All the others depart to discuss who should go to fetch the prince, but Richard and Buckingham linger behind. It is clear that Buckingham has become Richards ally and accomplice. He suggests to Richard that the two of them ought to go together to fetch the prince and says he has further ideas about how to separate the prince from Elizabeth and her family. Richard happily addresses Buckingham as his friend, right-hand man, and soul mate, and he quickly agrees with Buckinghams plans

Act II, scenes iiiiv

Summary: Act II, scene iii

Three ordinary citizens on a street in London discuss the state of national affairs. They share the news of King Edwards death, and, although one of them is optimistic about the future, saying that Edwards son will rule, the others are very worried. These citizens insist that, of the kings sons, the oldest, young Prince Edward, is still too young to reign. They state that the two sides of his familythe kinsmen of Queen Elizabeth on one side (Rivers, Dorset, and Gray) and his uncle Richard on the otherare locked in a jealous power struggle. Moreover, they see that Richard himself is dangerous, cunning, and thirsty for power, and they discuss his villainous nature. The citizens complain that it would be better for the prince to have no uncles than to have uncles struggling over control of him and the country. They dread what the future will bring.

Summary: Act II, scene iv

Back in the palace, the cardinal, an ally ofElizabeths family, tells Elizabeth, the duchess of York, and Elizabeths youngest son that young Prince Edward has nearly reached London and should arrive within two days. The princes mother, grandmother, and younger brother say that they are looking forward to seeing him.
Suddenly, the marquis of Dorset arrives with terrible news. He says that Elizabeths kinsmen, Rivers and Gray, have been arrested along with an ally of theirs named Sir ThomasVaughan. They have been sent to Pomfret, a castle where prisoners are held and often killed. The order to arrest them came, not surprisingly, from Richard and his ally,Buckingham. Elizabeth and the duchess realize that this news probably means the beginning of the end for their family. They wail for their lossand for what is to come. Knowing that Richard means her ill, Elizabeth decides to take her youngest son and flee to sanctuaryto a place where, she hopes, Richard cannot come after them. The cardinal promises his support and hands over to Elizabeth the Great Seal of England, a highly symbolic artifact

Act III, scene i


With a flourish of trumpets, the young Prince Edward, the heir to the throne, rides into London with his retinue. His uncle Richard is there to greet him, accompanied by several noblemen, including Richards close allies, the lords Buckingham and Catesby. Richard greets the prince, but the intelligent boy is suspicious of his uncle and parries Richards flattering language with wordplay as clever as Richards own. The prince wants to know what has happened to his relatives on his mothers sideRivers, Gray, and Dorset. Although he doesnt tell Prince Edward, Richard has had Rivers and Gray arrested and imprisoned in the castle of Pomfret; Dorset is presumably in hiding.
LordHastingsenters, and announces thatElizabethand her younger son, the young duke of York, have taken sanctuary (taking sanctuary means retreating to within a church or other holy ground, where, by ancient English tradition, it was blasphemous for enemies to pursue a fugitive). Buckingham is very irritated to hear this news. He asks the Lord Cardinal to go to Elizabeth and retrieve young York from her, and he orders Hastings to accompany the cardinal and forcibly remove the young prince if Elizabeth refuses to yield him. The cardinal understandably refuses, but Buckingham gives him a long argument in which he says that a young child is not self-determining enough to claim sanctuary. The cardinal gives in, and he and Lord Hastings go to fetch young York. By the time they return, Richard has told Prince Edward that he and his brother will stay in the Tower of London until the young princes coronation. Both princes are unwilling to be shut up in the tower.
After he sends the princes off to the tower, Richard holds a private conference with Buckingham and Catesby to discuss how his master plan is unfolding. Buckingham asks Catesby whether he thinks that Lord Hastings and LordStanleycan be counted on to help Richard seize the throne. Although Lord Hastings is an enemy of Elizabeth and her family, Catesby believes that Hastingss loyalty to the dead King Edward IV is so great that he would never support Richards goal of taking the crown from the rightful prince. Moreover, Catesby believes, Lord Stanley will follow whatever Lord Hastings does.
Buckingham suggests that Richard hold a council in the palace on the following day, supposedly to discuss when to crown young Prince Edward as king. In reality, however, they will scheme about how Richard can become king himself, and they must determine which of the noblemen they can count on as allies. There will be divided counsels the following day. First, a secret council will be held to strategize. Next, there will be a public one, which everyone will attend, at which those plans will be carried out (III.i.176).
Buckingham and Richard order Catesby to go to Lord Hastings, in order to sound him out and find out how willing he might be to go along with Richards plans. Richard adds that Catesby should tell Hastings that Queen Elizabeths kinsmen, who are currently imprisoned in Pomfret Castle, will be executed the next day. This news, he believes, should please Hastings, who has long been their enemy. After Catesby leaves, Buckingham asks Richard what they will do if Hastings remains loyal to Prince Edward. Richard cheerfully answers that they will chop off Hastingss head. Buoyed by his plans, Richard promises Buckingham that, after he becomes king, he will give Buckingham the title of earl of Hereford

Act III, scenes iiiv

Summary: Act III, scene ii

Very early in the morning, a messenger knocks at the door of Lord Hastings, sent by Hastingss friend Lord Stanley. The messenger tells Hastings that Stanley has learned about the divided counsels that Richard plans to hold this day (III.i.176). The previous night, the messenger says, Stanley had a nightmare in which a boar attacked and killed him. The boar is Richards heraldic symbol, and according to the messenger, Stanley is afraid for his safety and that of Hastings. He urges Hastings to take to horseback and flee with him before the sun rises, heading away from Richard and toward safety.
Hastings dismisses Stanleys fears and tells the messenger to assure Stanley that there is nothing to fear. Catesby arrives at Hastingss house. He has been sent by Richard to discover Hastingss feelings about Richards scheme to rise to power. But when Catesby brings up the idea that Richard should take the crown instead of PrinceEdward, Hastings recoils in horror. Seeing that Hastings will not change his mind, Catesby seems to drop the issue.
Stanley arrives, complaining of his forebodings, but Hastings cheerfully reassures him of their safety. Finally, Hastings goes off to the council meeting along with Buckingham. Ironically, Hastings is celebrating the news that Elizabeths kinsmen will be executed, thinking that he and his friend Stanley are safe in the favor of Richard and Buckingham. Hastings is blissfully unaware of Richards plan to decapitate him should Hastings refuse to join Richards side

Summary: Act III, scene iii

Guarded by the armed Sir Richard Ratcliffe, the queens kinsmen Rivers and Gray, along with their friend Sir Thomas Vaughan, enter their prison at Pomfret Castle. Rivers laments their impending execution. He tells Ratcliffe that they are being killed for nothing but their loyalty, and that their killers will eventually pay for their crimes. Gray, rememberingMargarets curse, says that it has finally descended upon them, and that the fate that awaits them is their punishment for their original complicity in the Yorkists murder of Henry VI and his son. Rivers reminds Gray that Margaret also cursed Richard and his allies. He prays for God to remember these curses but to forgive the one Margaret pronounced against Elizabeth herself, and her two young sons, the princes. The three embrace and prepare for their deaths

Summary: Act III, scene iv

At Richards Council session in the Tower of London, the suspicious Hastings asks the councilors about the cause of their meeting. He says that the meetings purpose is supposed to be to discuss the date on which Prince Edward should be crowned king, and Derby affirms that this is indeed the purpose of the meeting. Richard arrives, smiling and pleasant, and asks the Bishop of Ely to send for a bowl of strawberries. But Buckingham takes Richard aside to tell him what Catesby has learnedthat Hastings is loyal to the young princes and is unlikely to go along with Richards plans to seize power.

When Richard re-enters the council room, he has changed his tune entirely. Pretending to be enraged, he displays his armwhich, as everyone knows, has been deformed since his birthand says that Queen Elizabeth, conspiring with Hastingss mistress Shore, must have cast a spell on him to cause its withering. When Hastings hesitates before accepting this speculation as fact, Richard promptly accuses Hastings of treachery, orders his execution, and tells his men that he will not eat until he has been presented with Hastingss head. Left alone with his executioners, the stunned Hastings slowly realizes that Stanley was right all along. Richard is a manipulative, power-hungry traitor, and Hastings has been dangerously overconfident. Realizing that nothing can now England from Richards rapacious desire for power, he too cries out despairingly that Margarets curse has finally struck home

Act III, scenes vvii

Summary: Act III, scene v

Richard questions Buckingham about his loyalty and his capabilities. Buckingham answers that he is able to lie, cheat, and kill, and is willing to use any of those skills to help Richard. Now that Lord Hastings and Elizabeths family have been killed, and the court is under Richards control, Richard and Buckingham know that they need to start manipulating the common people of England in order to ensure the crowning of Richard as king. The first thing to do is to manipulate the lord mayor of London into believing that Hastings was a traitor. Buckingham assures Richard that he is a good enough actor to pull off this feat.
The lord mayor enters the castle, followed by Catesby with Hastingss head. Buckingham tells the mayor about Hastingss alleged betrayal. He says that Hastings turned out to be a traitor, plotting to kill him and Richard. Richard tells the lord mayor that Hastings confessed everything before his death. The mayor, who is either very gullible or eager to go along with the claims of people in power, says he believes Richard and Buckingham just as if he has heard Hastingss confession himself. He says that he will go and tell all the people of London what a dangerous traitor Hastings was, and that Richard was right to have him killed.
After the mayor departs, Richard, very pleased with their progress, tells Buckingham the next part of the plan: Buckingham is to make speeches to the people of London in which he will try to stir up bad feeling against the dead King Edward IV and the young princes, implying that the princes arent even Edwards legitimate heirs. The goal is to make the people turn against the princes and demand that Richard be crowned king instead. While Buckingham is on this errand, Richard sends his other henchmen to gather some more allies, and he himself makes arrangements to get rid of Clarences children and to ensure that no one can visit the young princes imprisoned in the tower

Summary: Act III, scene vi

On the streets of London, a scrivener (someone who writes and copies letters and documents for a living) says that he has just finished his last assignment, which was to copy the paper that will be read aloud to all of London later that day. The paper says that Hastings was a traitor. The scrivener condemns the hypocrisy of the world, for he, like everybody else, can see that the claim in the paper is a lie invented by Richard to justify killing his political rival

Summary: Act III, scene vii

Buckingham returns to Richard, and reports that his speech to the Londoners was received very badly. Buckingham says that he tried to stir up bad feelings about King Edward and his sons and then proposed that Richard should be king instead. But, instead of cheering, the crowd just stared at him in terrified silence. Only a few of Buckinghams own men, at the back of the crowd, threw their hats into the air and cheered for the idea of King Richard, and Buckingham had to end his speech quickly and leave.
Richard is furious to hear that the people do not like him, but he and Buckingham decide to go ahead with their plan anyway. Their strategy is to press the suggestible lord mayor to ask Richard to be king, pretending that this request would represent the will of the people. Richard, instead of seeming to desire the crown, will pretend to have to be begged before he will finally accept it. They successfully carry out this trick, with various clever embellishments. Richard shuts himself up with two priests before Buckingham leads the lord mayor to him to give the impression that he spends a great deal of time in prayer. In a long and elaborately structured speech, Buckingham makes a show of pleading with Richard to become king, and Richard finally accepts. Buckingham suggests that Richard be crowned the very next day, to which Richard consents

Act IV, scenes iiii

Summary: Act IV, scene i

Outisde the Tower of London, Elizabeth, her son Dorset, and the duchess of York meet LadyAnne (who is now Richards wife) and Clarences young daughter. Lady Anne tells Elizabeth that they have come to visit the princes who are imprisoned in the tower, and Elizabeth says that her group is there for the same reason. But the women learn from the guardian of the tower that Richard has forbidden anyone to see the princes.
Stanley, earl of Derby, suddenly arrives with the news that Richard is about to be crowned king, so Anne must go to the coronation to be crowned as his queen. The horrified Anne fears that Richards coronation will mean ruin for England, and says that she should have resisted marrying Richardafter all, she herself has cursed him (in Act I, scene ii) for killing her first husband. Her curses have come true. As his wife, she has no peace, and Richard is continually haunted by bad dreams. The duchess of York instructs Dorset to flee to France and join the forces of the earl of Richmond, a nobleman with a claim to the royal throne.
Summary: Act IV, scene ii

Back in the palace, the gloating Richardwho has now been crowned king of Englandenters in triumph with Buckingham and Catesby. But Richard says that he does not yet feel secure in his position of power. He tells Buckingham that he wants the two young princes, the rightful heirs to the throne, to be murdered in the tower. For the first time, Buckingham does not obey Richard immediately, saying that he needs more time to think about the request. Richard murmurs to himself that Buckingham is too weak to continue to be his right-hand man and summons a lowlife named Tyrrell who is willing to accept the mission. In almost the same breath, Richard instructs Catesby to spread a rumor that Queen Anne is sick and likely to die, and gives orders to keep the queen confined. He then announces his intention to marry the late King Edwards daughter, Elizabeth of York. The implication is that he plans to murder Queen Anne.
Buckingham, uneasy about his future, asks Richard to give him what Richard promised him earlier: the earldom of Hereford. But Richard angrily rejects Buckinghams demands and walks out on him. Buckingham, left alone, realizes that he has fallen out of Richards favor and decides to flee to his family home in Wales before he meets the fate of Richards other enemies

Summary: Act IV, scene iii

Tyrrell returns to the palace and tells Richard that the princes are dead. He says that he has been deeply shaken by the deed and that the two men he commissioned to perform the murders are also full of regrets after smothering the two children to death in their sleep. But Richard is delighted to hear the news, and offers Tyrrell a rich reward. After Tyrrell leaves, Richard explains the development of his various plots to get rid of everyone who might threaten his grasp on power. The two young princes are now dead. Richard has married off Clarences daughter to an unimportant man and has locked up Clarences son (who is not very smart and does not present a threat). Moreover, Richard gloats that Queen Anne is now deadwe can assume Richard has had her murderedand he announces once again that his next step will be to woo and marry young Elizabeth, the daughter of the former King Edward and Queen Elizabeth. He believes that this alliance with her family will cement his hold on the throne.
Ratcliffe enters suddenly with the bad news that some of Richards noblemen are fleeing to join Richmond in France, and that Buckingham has returned to Wales and is now leading a large army against Richard. Richard, startled out of his contemplation, decides that it is time to gather his own army and head out to face battle

Act IV, scenes ivv

Think that thy babes were sweeter than they were,
And he that slew them fouler than he is.

Summary: Act IV, scene iv

Elizabeth and the duchess of York lament the deaths of the young princes. Suddenly, old Queen Margaret enters, and tells the duchess that the duchess is the mother of a monster.Richard, she says, will not stop his campaign of terror until they are all dead. Margaret rejoices in this fact because she is very glad to see her curses against the York and Woodeville families come true. She is still as bitter as she has been throughout the play about the deaths of her husband, Henry VI, and her son, Prince Edward, and she says that the York deaths are fair payment.
The grief-weary Elizabeth asks Margaret to teach her how to curse, and Margaret advises her to experience as much bitterness and pain as Margaret herself has. Margaret then departs for France. When Richard enters with his noblemen and the commanders of his army, the duchess begins to curse him, condemning him for the bloody murder of his extended family and telling him that she regrets having given birth to him. The enraged Richard orders his men to strike up loud music to try to drown out the womens curses, but it does not work, and the duchess curses him to die bloodily.
Although shaken by this verbal assault, Richard recovers and, speaking with Elizabeth in private, broaches his proposal to her: he wants to marry her daughter, the young Elizabeth. The former queen is horrified, and sarcastically suggests to Richard that he simply send her daughter the bloody hearts of her two little brothers as a gift, to win her love. Richard, using all his gifts of persuasion and insistence, pursues Elizabeth, insisting that this way he can make amends to what remains of her family for all he has done before. He argues that the marriage is also the only way the kingdom can avoid civil war. Elizabeth seems to be swayed by his words at last and tells him she will speak with her daughter about it. As soon as Elizabeth leaves the stage, Richard scornfully calls her a foolish and weak-willed woman.
Richards soldiers and army commanders start to bring him reports about Richmonds invasion, and as bad news piles up, Richard begins to panic for the first time. Richmond is reported to be approaching England with a fleet of ships; Richards allies are half-hearted and unwilling to fight the invader. All over Britain, noblemen have taken up arms against Richard. The only good news that Richard hears is that his forces have dispersedBuckinghams army, and that Buckingham has been captured. Richard then learns that Richmond has landed with a mighty force, and he decides it is time to fight. He leads out his army to meet Richmond in battle

Summary: Act IV, scene v

Elsewhere, Stanley, earl of Derby, meets a lord from Richmonds forces for a secret conversation. The suspicious Richard has insisted that Stanley give his son, young George Stanley, to him as a hostage, to prevent Stanleys deserting Richards side. Stanley explains that this situation is all that prevents him from joining Richmond. But he sends his regards to the rebel leader, as well as the message that the former Queen Elizabeth has agreed that Richmond should marry her daughter, young Elizabeth. The other nobleman gives Stanley information about the whereabouts of Richmond (who is in Wales) and about the vast number of English noblemen who have flocked to his side. All are marching toward London, to engage Richard in battle.

Act V, scenes iii

Summary: Act V, scene i

The captured Buckingham is led to his execution by an armed sheriff. Buckingham asks to speak to King Richard, but the sheriff denies his request, leaving him time to ponder before his head is cut off. Upon discovering that it is All-Souls Day, Buckinghams thoughts turn to repentance and judgment, and he recalls the promises he made to King Edward IV that he would always stand by Edwards children and his wifes family. He also recalls his own certainty that Richard, whom he trusted, would never betray him and seems to be recallingMargarets prophecy: [R]emember this another day, / When he [Richard] shall split thy very heart with sorrow (I.iii.297298). Buckingham concludes that Margaret was right, and that, moreover, he deserves to suffer for his own wrongdoingfor breaking his vows, for being an accomplice to foul play and murder, and for his folly in trusting Richard, who has indeed broken his heart. He tells the officers to bring him to the block of shame, and he is led away to die (V.i.28

Summary: Act V, scene ii

At the camp ofRichmonds army, which is marching through England to challenge Richard, Richmond tells his men that he has just received a letter from his relativeStanley, informing him about Richards camp and movements. Richards army, it seems, is only a days march away. The men recall the crimes that Richard has perpetrated and the darkness he has brought to the land. A nobleman points out that none of Richards allies is with him because they believe in his causethey stay with him only out of fear and will flee when Richard most needs them. Eager for the battle, Richmond and his men march onward toward Richards camp.

Act V, scenes iiivi

Summary: Act V, scene iii

In his camp, King Richard orders his men to pitch their tents for the night. He says that they will engage in their great battle in the -morning. Richard talks to his noblemen, trying to stir up some enthusiasm, but they are all subdued. Richard, however, says he has learned thatRichmond has only one-third as many fighting men as he himself does, and he is confident that he can easily win.

Summary: Act V, scene iv

Meanwhile, in Richmonds camp, Richmond tells a messenger to deliver a secret letter to his stepfather, LordStanley, who is in an outlying camp. Stanley is forced to fight upon Richards side, but Richmond hopes to get some help from him nonetheless

Summary: Act V, scene v

It is now dead midnight.
Cold fearful drops stand on my trembling flesh.
What do I fear? Myself?

Back in King Richards tent, Richard issues commands to his lieutenants. Because Richard knows of Stanleys relationship with Richmond, he is suspicious of Stanley, and is holding Stanleys young son, George, hostage. He has an order sent to Lord Stanley telling him to bring his troops to the main camp before dawn, or else he will kill George. Declaring that he will eat no supper that night, Richard then prepares to go to sleep for the night.

Stanley comes secretly to visit Richmond in his tent. He explains the situation, but promises to help Richmond however he can. Richmond thanks him and then prepares for sleep.

As both leaders sleep, they begin to dream. A parade of ghoststhe spirits of everyone whom Richard has murderedcomes across the stage. First, each ghost stops to speak to Richard. Each condemns him bitterly for his or her death, tells him that he will be killed in battle the next morning, and orders him to despair and die. The ghosts then move away and speak to the sleeping Richmond, telling him that they are on Richmonds side and that Richmond will rule England and be the father of a race of kings. In a similar manner, eleven ghosts move across the stage: Prince Edward, the dead son of Henry VI; King Henry VI himself; Richards brother Clarence; Rivers, Gray, and Vaughan; the two young princes, whom Richard had murdered in the tower; Hastings; Lady Anne, Richards former wife; and, finally, Buckingham.

Terrified, Richard wakes out of his sleep, sweating and gasping. In an impassioned soliloquy, he searches his soul to try to find the cause of such a terrible dream. Realizing that he is a murderer, Richard tries to figure out what he fears. He asks himself whether he is afraid of himself or whether he loves himself. He realizes that he doesnt have any reason to love himself and asks whether he doesnt hate himself, instead. For the first time, Richard is truly terrified.

Ratcliffe comes to Richards tent to let him know that the rooster has crowed and that it is time to prepare for battle. The shaken Richard tells Ratcliffe of his terrifying dream, but Ratcliffe dismisses it, telling Richard not to be afraid of shadows and superstition.

In his camp, Richmond also wakes and tells his advisers about his dream, which was full of good omens: the ghosts of all of Richards victims have told him that he will have victory. Richmond gives a stirring pre-battle oration to his soldiers, reminding them that they are defending their native country from a fearsome tyrant and murderer. Richmonds men cheer and head off to battle

Summary: Act V, scene v

It is now dead midnight.
Cold fearful drops stand on my trembling flesh.
What do I fear? Myself?

Back in King Richards tent, Richard issues commands to his lieutenants. Because Richard knows of Stanleys relationship with Richmond, he is suspicious of Stanley, and is holding Stanleys young son, George, hostage. He has an order sent to Lord Stanley telling him to bring his troops to the main camp before dawn, or else he will kill George. Declaring that he will eat no supper that night, Richard then prepares to go to sleep for the night.
Stanley comes secretly to visit Richmond in his tent. He explains the situation, but promises to help Richmond however he can. Richmond thanks him and then prepares for sleep.
As both leaders sleep, they begin to dream. A parade of ghoststhe spirits of everyone whom Richard has murderedcomes across the stage. First, each ghost stops to speak to Richard. Each condemns him bitterly for his or her death, tells him that he will be killed in battle the next morning, and orders him to despair and die. The ghosts then move away and speak to the sleeping Richmond, telling him that they are on Richmonds side and that Richmond will rule England and be the father of a race of kings. In a similar manner, eleven ghosts move across the stage: Prince Edward, the dead son of Henry VI; King Henry VI himself; Richards brother Clarence; Rivers, Gray, and Vaughan; the two young princes, whom Richard had murdered in the tower; Hastings; Lady Anne, Richards former wife; and, finally, Buckingham.
Terrified, Richard wakes out of his sleep, sweating and gasping. In an impassioned soliloquy, he searches his soul to try to find the cause of such a terrible dream. Realizing that he is a murderer, Richard tries to figure out what he fears. He asks himself whether he is afraid of himself or whether he loves himself. He realizes that he doesnt have any reason to love himself and asks whether he doesnt hate himself, instead. For the first time, Richard is truly terrified.
Ratcliffe comes to Richards tent to let him know that the rooster has crowed and that it is time to prepare for battle. The shaken Richard tells Ratcliffe of his terrifying dream, but Ratcliffe dismisses it, telling Richard not to be afraid of shadows and superstition.
In his camp, Richmond also wakes and tells his advisers about his dream, which was full of good omens: the ghosts of all of Richards victims have told him that he will have victory. Richmond gives a stirring pre-battle oration to his soldiers, reminding them that they are defending their native country from a fearsome tyrant and murderer. Richmonds men cheer and head off to battle

Summary: Act V, scene vi

In Richards camp, Richard gives his battle speech to his army, focusing on the raggedness of the rebel forces and their opposition to himself, the allegedly rightful king. A messenger then brings the bad news that Stanley has mutinied and refuses to bring his army. There is not enough time even to execute young Stanley, for the enemy is already upon them. Richard and his forces head out to war.
Act V, scenes viiviii

Summary: Act V, scene vii

The two armies fight a pitched battle. Catesby appears on stage and calls to Richards ally Norfolk, asking for help for Richard. Catesby reports that the kings horse has been killed and that the king is fighting like a madman on foot, challenging everyone he sees in the field as he attempts to track down Richmond himself.
Richard himself now appears, calling out for a horse. But he refuses Catesbys offer of help, saying that he has prepared himself to face the fortunes of battle and will not run from them now. He also says that Richmond seems to have filled the field with decoysthat is, common soldiers dressed like Richmondof whom Richard has already killed five. He departs, seeking Richmond.
Summary: Act V, scene viii

Finally, Richmond appears, and Richard returns. They face each other at last and fight a bloody duel. Richmond wins, and kills King Richard with his sword. Richmond runs back into battle. The noise of battle dies down, and Richmond returns, accompanied by his noblemen. We learn that Richmonds side has won the battle. This revelation is hardly surprising, since Richard is dead. Stanley, swearing his loyalty to the new king, presents Richmond with the crown, which has been taken from Richards body. Richmond accepts the crown and puts it on.
Relatively few noblemen have been killed, and Stanleys young son, George, is still safe. Richmond, now King Henry VII, orders that the bodies of the dead be buried, and that Richards soldierswho have fled the fieldshould all be given amnesty. He then announces his intention to marry young Elizabeth, daughter of the former Queen Elizabeth and of the late King Edward IV. The houses of Lancaster and York will be united at last, and the long bloodshed will be over. The new king asks for Gods blessing on England and the marriage, and for a lasting peace. The nobles leave the stage

Important Quotations Explained

1. Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this son of York;
And all the clouds that loured upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths,
Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings,
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.
Grim-visaged war hath smoothed his wrinkled front,
. . .
He capers nimbly in a ladys chamber
To the lascivious pleasing of a lute.
But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks
Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass;
. . .
Why, I in this weak piping time of peace
Have no delight to pass away the time,
Unless to spy my shadow in the sun
And descant on mine own deformity.
And therefore since I cannot prove a lover
To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
I am determined to prove a villain
And hate the idle pleasures of these days.

Richardspeaks these lines to the audience at the beginning of the play. His speech serves a number of important purposes. It sets the scene, informing the audience that the play begins shortly after the death of Henry VI, withKing Edward IVrestored to the throne of England. Richard speaks of recent fighting, and says that All the clouds that loured upon our housethat is, the house of Yorkhave been dispelled by the son of York, King Edward, whose symbol was the sun. Richard paints a vivid picture in which the English have put aside their arms and armor and celebrate in peace and happiness, culminating in the image of the god of war smoothing his rough and fierce appearance and playing the part of a lover in a womans chamber. All of these images make it clear to us that Richard has no justification for seizing the throne. England is obviously not oppressed or subject to tyranny, and Richards own brother holds the throne. That Richard intends to upset the kingdom by seizing power for himself therefore renders him monstrously selfish and evil.
Richard offers a pretext for his villainy by pointing out his physical deformity. He says that since he was not made to be a lover, he has no use for peace, and will happily destroy peace with his crimes. We are not likely to accept this reasoning as a valid or convincing justification for Richards villainy. Instead of making Richard sympathetic, it makes him seem more monstrous, because he can so blithely toss aside all of the things that the rest of humanity cherishes. At the same time, Richards speech makes his true motivations seem all the more dark and mysterious

2. Thy friends suspect for traitors while thou livst,
And take deep traitors for thy dearest friends.
No sleep close up that deadly eye of thine,
Unless it be while some tormenting dream
Affrights thee with a hell of ugly devils.
Thou elvish-marked, abortive, rooting hog,
Thou that wast sealed in thy nativity
The slave of nature and the son of hell.
Thou slander of thy heavy mothers womb.
Thou loathd issue of thy fathers loins.
Thou rag of honour, thou detested
Margaretdelivers this invective at the conclusion of her long diatribe of curses against the Yorks and the Woodevilles. The speech, and the scene that accompanies it, is extremely important to the play, because it foreshadows the ends of nearly all the major characters, including the deaths of the queens kinsmen and the fall from grace ofElizabeth. Here, Margaret foreshadowsRichards end by cursing him to mistake his friends for enemies, as he ultimately does withBuckingham, and his enemies for friends, as he does withStanley. She also curses him to sleeplessness, which he experiences the night before the Battle of Bosworth Field, when the ghosts of those he has murdered visit him. As a prophetic curse, the speech is one of the most notable instances of supernaturalism in the play, and it also contains some of the plays most forceful and memorable language (Thou elvish-marked, abortive, rooting hog) in the form of -Margarets insults.
3. Methoughts that I had broken from the Tower,
And was embarked to cross to Burgundy,
And in my company my brother Gloucester,
. . .
Methought that Gloucester stumbled, and in falling
Struck methat thought to stay himoverboard
Into the tumbling billows of the main.

Clarencedelivers this speech shortly before the murderers come to kill him in the tower. Clarence says that he dreamed he escaped from the tower and fled withRichard(Gloucester) to France, but on the ship, Richard betrayed him and cast him overboard to drown. This is the first of several prophetic dreams in the play, and it contributes to our sense that supernatural forces are at work driving the plot. Clarences dream foreshadows his imminent death, as well as the fact that he will be drowned (in a barrel of wine). Psychologically, the speech is interesting because it reveals the depth of Clarences trust for Richard. Rather than take this strikingly prophetic dream in which Richard betrays and kills him as an omen, Clarence refuses to credit the notion that Richard wishes him dead. To us it may appear that Clarences unconscious mind is trying to tell him something, but if that is the case, Clarences conscious mind is not listening. Clarences disbelief in his own dream creates the impression that Richards evil is too monstrous for those around him to accept or imagine, and thus it amplifies our horror of Richard.

4. Forbear to sleep the nights, and fast the days;
Compare dead happiness with living woe;
Think that thy babes were sweeter than they were,
And he that slew them fouler than he is.
Bettring thy loss makes the bad causer worse.
Revolving this will teach thee how to curse.

Margaretmakes this speech as she teaches the duchess andElizabethhow to curse. Margaret says that to wrench the full power of anguish from language one must steep oneself in ones misery, -staying awake at night, going hungry during the day, and even convincing oneself that ones children were better than they actually were. This speech is an important insight into the character of Margaret, who has made it her life to experience the pain of loss. It is also an important insight into the plight of victimized women in the play, who have no weapon against their victimizers but language and who must continually inflict psychological violence on themselves in order to wield their weapon as effectively as they can. WhenRichardappears in the middle of this scene, the women, one of whom is his own mother, turn on him with ferocious insults, indicating that they have internalized Margarets advice and learned how to transform their pain into curses.

5. The lights burn blue. It is now dead midnight.
Cold fearful drops stand on my trembling flesh.
What do I fear? Myself? Theres none else by.
Richard loves Richard; that is, I am I.
Is there a murderer here? No. Yes, I am.
Then fly! What, from myself? Great reason. Why:
Lest I revenge. Myself upon myself?
Alack, I love myself. Wherefore? For any good
That I myself have done unto myself?
O no, alas, I rather hate myself
For hateful deeds committed by myself.
I am a villain.

Richardmakes this speech immediately after his visitations by the ghosts; it is perhaps the only moment in the play in which he reveals any self-doubt, conscience, or regret for his brutal actions. Richard seems to wake up, and he is so full of fear that he is sweating. To calm his fear, he reminds himself that he is by himself and therefore safe. But he is seized with renewed horror when he realizes that he himself is the most frightening person he could be left alone with. He asks himself rhetorically whether there is a murderer with him, and he realizes that he himself is a mass-murderer.

Frightened, Richard tells himself to run away, but he realizes that he cannot flee from himself. He asks himself whether he is frightened of his own revenge against himself. This idea is very interestingthe forces driving Richard have always been mysterious, and here he seems to allude to some inner demon from which even he is not safe. But he quickly moves past this thought to assert that he could not hurt himself because he loves himself. However, he immediately realizes that he does not love himself, because he has never done anything good that merits love. Instead, he hates himself for the evil he has done to others. In the first speech of the play, Richard declares that he is determined to prove a villain (I.i.30). He now declares that he has become one (I am a villain). But rather than feel that he has achieved his goal, Richard is suddenly afflicted with moral loathing and self-doubt, a psychological undermining that may contribute to his downfall during the battle

Analysis of Major Characters

Richard III

Richard is in every way the dominant character of the play that bears his name, to the extent that he is both the protagonist of the story and its major villain. Richard III is an intense exploration of the psychology of evil, and that exploration is centered on Richards mind. Critics sometimes compare Richard to the medieval character, Vice, who was a flat and one-sided embodiment of evil. However, especially in the later scenes of the play, Richard proves to be highly self-reflective and complicatedmaking his heinous acts all the more chilling.

Perhaps more than in any other play by Shakespeare, the audience of Richard III experiences a complex, ambiguous, and highly changeable relationship with the main character. Richard is clearly a villainhe declares outright in his very first speech that he intends to stop at nothing to achieve his nefarious designs. But despite his open allegiance to evil, he is such a charismatic and fascinating figure that, for much of the play, we are likely to sympathize with him, or at least to be impressed with him. In this way, our relationship with Richard mimics the other characters relationships with him, conveying a powerful sense of the force of his personality. Even characters such as Lady Anne, who have an explicit knowledge of his wickedness, allow themselves to be seduced by his brilliant wordplay, his skillful argumentation, and his relentless pursuit of his selfish desires.

Richards long, fascinating monologues, in which he outlines his plans and gleefully confesses all his evil thoughts, are central to the audiences experience of Richard. Shakespeare uses these monologues brilliantly to control the audiences impression of Richard, enabling this manipulative protagonist to work his charms on the audience. In Act I, scene i, for example, Richard dolefully claims that his malice toward others stems from the fact that he is unloved, and that he is unloved because of his physical deformity. This claim, which casts the

other characters of the play as villains for punishing Richard for his appearance, makes it easy to sympathize with Richard during the first scenes of the play.

It quickly becomes apparent, however, that Richard simply uses his deformity as a tool to gain the sympathy of othersincluding us. Richards evil is a much more innate part of his character than simple bitterness about his ugly body. But he uses this speech to win our trust, and he repeats this ploy throughout his struggle to be crowned king. After he is crowned king and Richmond begins his uprising, Richards monologues end. Once Richard stops exerting his charisma on the audience, his real nature becomes much more apparent, and by the end of the play he can be seen for the monster that he is.

The Princes

The most famous crime of the historical Richard III, and the deed for which he was most demonized in the century following his death, is his murder of the two young princes in the Tower of London. For centuries after the death of Edward IV, the fate of the princes was a mysteryall that was known was that they had disappeared. It was speculated that Richard had them killed, it was speculated that they had spent their entire lives as prisoners in the tower, and it was speculated that they had escaped and lived abroad. The English author Sir Thomas More wrote that they were killed and buried at the foot of a staircase in the White Tower. Many years later, in 1674, workers in the Tower of London discovered two tiny skeletons hidden in a chest buried beneath a staircase of the tower. The skeletons date from approximately the late fifteenth century, and serve as the best evidence that the young sons of Edward IV were in fact murdered in the tower. There is still no conclusive proof that it was Richard who had them murderedsome scholars even think it could have been Richmond. Still, thanks to popular legend, Shakespeares play, and the biography of Richard that More wrote a few years before the play, Richard has gone down in history as the most likely culprit.

Because the story of the princes in the tower was so well known, it was crucial to Richard III that Shakespeare make the princes memorable and engaging figures despite their youth and their relatively small roles in the story. As a result, Shakespeare creates princes who are highly intelligentthey are among the only characters in the play to see through Richards scheme entirely. They are courageous, standing up fearlessly to the powerful Richard. They are charismatic, outdoing Richard in games of wordplay. However, they are utterly, pitifully helpless because they are so young. Though Elizabeth remarks that her younger son is a parlous boy, meaning sharp or mischievous, the princes are never a threat to Richard, and they are unable to defend themselves against him (II.iv.35). Yet Shakespeare creates the sense that, had the princes lived, they would have grown up to become more than a match for their wicked uncle

The Princes

The most famous crime of the historical Richard III, and the deed for which he was most demonized in the century following his death, is his murder of the two young princes in the Tower of London. For centuries after the death of Edward IV, the fate of the princes was a mysteryall that was known was that they had disappeared. It was speculated that Richard had them killed, it was speculated that they had spent their entire lives as prisoners in the tower, and it was speculated that they had escaped and lived abroad. The English author Sir Thomas More wrote that they were killed and buried at the foot of a staircase in the White Tower. Many years later, in 1674, workers in the Tower of London discovered two tiny skeletons hidden in a chest buried beneath a staircase of the tower. The skeletons date from approximately the late fifteenth century, and serve as the best evidence that the young sons of Edward IV were in fact murdered in the tower. There is still no conclusive proof that it was Richard who had them murderedsome scholars even think it could have been Richmond. Still, thanks to popular legend, Shakespeares play, and the biography of Richard that More wrote a few years before the play, Richard has gone down in history as the most likely culprit.

Because the story of the princes in the tower was so well known, it was crucial to Richard III that Shakespeare make the princes memorable and engaging figures despite their youth and their relatively small roles in the story. As a result, Shakespeare creates princes who are highly intelligentthey are among the only characters in the play to see through Richards scheme entirely. They are courageous, standing up fearlessly to the powerful Richard. They are charismatic, outdoing Richard in games of wordplay. However, they are utterly, pitifully helpless because they are so young. Though Elizabeth remarks that her younger son is a parlous boy, meaning sharp or mischievous, the princes are never a threat to Richard, and they are unable to defend themselves against him (II.iv.35). Yet Shakespeare creates the sense that, had the princes lived, they would have grown up to become more than a match for their wicked uncle


Though she plays a very minor role in the plays plot, mostly prowling around the castle cursing to herself, Margaret is nevertheless one of the most important and memorable characters in Richard III. The impotent, overpowering rage that she directs at Richard and his family stands for the helpless, righteous anger of all Richards victims. The curses she levels at the royals in Act I, which are among the most startling and memorable in all of Shakespeare, foreshadow and essentially determine future events of the play. Her lesson to Elizabeth and the duchess about how to curse paints a striking picture of the psychology of victimization and the use of language as a means of alleviating anguish.

As the wife of the dead and vanquished King Henry VI, Margaret also represents the plight of women under the patriarchal power structure of Renaissance England. Without a husband to grant her status and security, she is reduced to depending on the charity of her familys murderers to survivea dire situation that she later wishes on Elizabeth. Margaret is a one-dimensional character, representing rage and pain, but she is vital to the play for the sheer focus of torment she brings to the world surrounding Richards irresistible evil

Themes and motifs

Comedic elements

The play resolutely avoids demonstrations of physical violence; only Clarence and Richard III die on-stage, while the rest (the two princes, Hastings, Grey, Vaughan, Rivers, Anne, Buckingham, and King Edward) all meet their ends off-stage. Despite the villainous nature of the title character and the grim storyline, Shakespeare infuses the action with comic material, as he does with most of his tragedies. Much of the humour rises from the dichotomy between what we know Richard's character to be and how Richard tries to appear. The prime example is perhaps the portion of Act III, Scene 1, where Richard is forced to "play nice" with the young and mocking Duke of York. Other examples appear in Richard's attempts at acting, first in the matter of justifying Hastings' death and later in his coy response to being offered the crown.

Richard himself also provides some dry remarks in evaluating the situation, as when he plans to marry the Queen Elizabeth's daughter: "Murder her brothers, then marry her; Uncertain way of gain...." Other examples of humor in this play include Clarence's ham-fisted and half-hearted murderers, and the Duke of Buckingham's report on his attempt to persuade the Londoners to accept Richard ("...I bid them that did love their country's good cry, God Richard, England's royal king!" Richard: "And did they so?" Buckingham: "No, so God help me, they spake not a word....") Puns, a Shakespearean

staple, are especially well-represented in the scene where Richard tries to persuade Queen Elizabeth to woo her daughter on his behalf

Free Will and Fatalism

One of the central themes of Richard III is the idea of fate, especially as it is seen through the tension between free will and fatalism in the actions and speech of the villain-hero, Richard, as well as the reactions to him by other characters. There is no doubt that Shakespeare drew heavily from Sir Thomas Mores account of Richard III as a criminal and tyrant as inspiration for his own rendering. This influence, especially as it relates to the role of divine punishment in Richards rule of England, reaches its height in the voice of Margaret. As Janis Lull, a noted Shakespeare scholar from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, suggests, Margaret gives voice to the belief, encouraged by the growing Calvinism of the Elizabethan era, that individual historical events are determined by God, who often punishes evil with (apparent) evil.

Thus, it seems possible that Shakespeare, in conforming to the growing Tudor Myth of the day, as well as taking into account new theologies of divine action and human will becoming popular in the wake of the Protestant Reformation, sought to paint Richard as the final curse of God on England in punishment for the deposition of Richard II in 1399.The late Irving Ribner, former chair of the English department at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, argued that the evil path of Richard is a cleansing operation which roots evil out of society and restores the world at last to the God-ordained goodness embodied in the new rule of Henry VII.

Victor Kiernan, a Marxist scholar and historian, writes that this interpretation is a perfect fit with the English social perspective of Shakespeares day: An extension is in progress of a privileged classs assurance of preferential treatment in the next world as in this, to a favoured nations conviction of having God on its side, of Englishmen beingthe new Chosen People. As Elizabethan England was slowly colonizing the world, the populace embraced the view of its own Divine Right and Appointment to do so, much as Richard does in Shakespeares play.

However, historical fatalism is merely one side of the argument of fate against free will. It is also possible that Shakespeare intended to portray Richard as a personification of the Machiavellian view of history as power politics.In this view, Richard is acting entirely out of his own free will in brutally taking hold of the English throne. Kiernan also presents this side of the coin, noting that He [Richard] boasts to us of his finesse in dissembling and deception with bits of Scripture to cloak his naked villainy (I.iii.334-8)Machiavelli, as Shakespeare may want us to realize, is not a safe guide to practical politics

Kiernan suggests that Richard is merely acting as if God is determining his every step in a sort of Machiavellian manipulation of religion as an attempt to circumvent the moral conscience of those around him. Therefore, historical determinism is merely an illusion perpetrated by Richards assertion of his own free will. The Machiavellian reading of the

play finds its most convincing evidence in Richards interactions with the audience, as when he mentions that he is determind to prove a villain (I.i.30). However, though it seems Richard views himself as completely in control, Lull suggests that Shakespeare is using Richard to state the tragic conception of the play in a joke. His primary meaning is that he controls his own destiny. His pun also has a second, contradictory meaning that his villainy is predestined and the strong providentialism of the play ultimately endorses this meaning.

Like many of William Shakespeares plays, language plays a large part in Richard III. Literary critic, Paul Haeffner writes that Shakespeare had a great understanding of language and the potential of every word he used.One word that Shakespeare gave potential to was "joy." This was employed in ACT I, SCENE III, where it was used to show deliberate emotional effect.Another word that Haeffner points out is "kind". He makes the suggestion that the word "kind" is used with two different definitions.

The first definition is used to express a gentle and loving being, which Clarence uses to describe his brother Richard to the murderers that were sent to kill him. This first definition is, of course, not true in the case of Richard. He hides under that definition of kind to achieve his desire to be king. The second definition concerns the persons true nature ... Richard will indeed use Hastings kindly that is, just as he is in the habit of using people brutally.In several cases, Richard does use people as a habit. His first victim was Clarence and then it was Lady Anne. If Richard had married Elizabeth, he would also make sure that he uses her properly as he would kindly do.

Haeffner also writes about how speech is written. He compares the speeches of Richmond and Richard to their soldiers. He describes Richmonds speech as dignified and formal, while Richards speech is explained as slangy and impetuous.Richards casualness in speech is also noted by another writer. However, Lull does not make the comparison between Richmond and Richard as Haeffner did, but between Richard and the women of Richard III. However, it is important to note that the women share the formal language that Richmond uses. She makes the argument that the difference in speech reinforces the thematic division between the womens identification with the social group and Richards individualism.Haeffner agrees that Richard is an individualist, hating dignity and formality.
Janis Lull also takes special notice of the mourning women. She suggests that they are associated with figures of repetition as anaphora beginning each clause in a sequence with the same word and epistrophe repeating the same word at the end of each clause.One example of the epistrophe can be found in Margarets speech in ACT I, SCENE III. Haeffner refers to these as few of many devices and tricks of style that occur in the play, showcasing Shakespeares ability to bring out the potential of every

05-22-2010, 07:24 PM
: 10 - 11 - 2007
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  is a glorious beacon of light

whoso list to hunt
Sir Thomas Wyatt
Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind,
But as for me, hlas, I may no more.
The vain travail hath wearied me so sore,
I am of them that farthest cometh behind.
Yet may I by no means my wearied mind
Draw from the deer, but as she fleeth afore
Fainting I follow. I leave off therefore,
Sithens in a net I seek to hold the wind.
Who list her hunt, I put him out of doubt,
As well as I may spend his time in vain.
And graven with diamonds in letters plain
There is written, her fair neck round about:
Noli me tangere, for Caesar's I am,

Poem Summary
Lines 1-4
In line 1 of "Whoso List to Hunt," the narrator states that for those who wish to hunt, he knows of a particular hind, a female deer. The narrator himself is trying to abandon the hunt, acknowledging in line 2 that this hind is beyond his reach. Indeed, he is "wearied" from the "vain travail," the useless work, of the hunt; he has begun to recognize the futility of the pursuit. He laments in the fourth line that he is the last of the pursuers, the one "that farthest cometh behind."
Lines 5-8
In the second stanza, the narrator states that he cannot take his "wearied mind from the deer." When she flees, he proclaims, "Fainting I follow." Nevertheless, he is ultimately forced to indeed abandon the chase, as she is too fast and all that he can catch is the wind that rises after she passes. In sum, the first eight lines, the octave, state the problem of the writer's wasted hunt.
Lines 9-14
In the closing sestet, the invitation initially offered by the narrator to whoever wishes to hunt this particular hind is partly rescinded; in line 9, the narrator states that he will remove any doubt about the wisdom of doing so. Just as his hunt was in vain, so would be those of other hunters, as the hind wears a diamond collar around her neck proclaiming her ownership by another. The concluding couplet notes that the collar reads "Noli me tangere," or "Touch me not" in Latin. Thus, the first part of the warning is "Touch me not, for Caesar's I am." According to legend, long after the ancient Roman emperor Caesar's death, white stags were found wearing collars on which were inscribed the words "Noli me tangere; Caesaris sum," or "Touch me not; I am Caesar's." The first part of that phrase, "Noli me tangere," is also a quotation from the Vulgate Bible, from John 20:17, when Christ tells Mary Magdalene, "Do not touch me, for I have not yet ascended to my Father." In the final line, the warning on the collar continues: the deer herself declares that while she appears tame, holding her is dangerous, as she is wild

Courtly Love
Traditionally, early English sonnets focused on romantic and idealized love, as did the Petrarchan sonnets that inspired the English to adopt the format. The love sonnet often celebrated the woman's beauty, comparing in great detail the features of her face and body to forms in nature. For example, a poet might compare a woman's cheeks to roses in bloom. In "Whoso List to Hunt," Wyatt deviates from the typical love sonnet and casts the woman as a deer, who is pursued in an evidently ardent fashion. In being not an inanimate object of the suitor's affection but a wild animal in flight, the female has more personality than the typical subject of a courtly love poem. While she does not speak, she holds a sort of dialogue with the narrator through her actions and through the display of her collar. Thus, Wyatt shifts the perspective on courtly love to focus on the ideas of masculine desire and ownership.
Divine Right of Kings
The doctrine of the "divine right of kings" held that kings were God's representatives on earth and that all of the king's subjects were, in fact, his property. The final lines of the sonnet, when it is revealed that the hind's collar declares her to be the property of Caesar alone, allude to this doctrine. The royal ruler supposedly had the right to possess this female, regardless of her wishes or the desires of any other suitors. While he courted Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII gave her many gifts, which established that he was serious about her. These gifts also served to warn other suitors that the object of the King's desire was not available to other men. Although Anne Boleyn did not wear a collar inscribed with the King's name, she wore jewels and other gifts that he supplied. As king, Henry VIII would have believed in his divine right to possess his subjects, and he would not have been shy about seizing whomever he desired.
In Wyatt's sonnet, the hunter can be said to be obsessed with possessing his prey. He describes himself as "wearied" twice, in lines 3 and 5. In line 7, he refers to himself as "fainting" as he continues to follow the hind, even as she flees him. The pursuit is dangerous, as the deer is labeled as royal property, but the hunter follows anyway. When a desire is so intense that it cannot be ignored, even when danger is present, it might be labeled an obsession; mere reasoning is not enough to rid the obsessed lover of his desire.
The object of the hunt in Wyatt's sonnet is a hind, a female deer, which is held to represent the person of Anne Boleyn. The deer is hunted as prey and wears a collar that proclaims her ruler's ownership over her. This portrayal of a woman as a forest animal to be hunted and possessed reflects the low esteem with which women were often viewed in Elizabethan society. In this allegory, courtship and wooing have no role in the relationship between hunter and hunted, and the female cannot escape the fact that she is a royal possession

In literature, an allegory is an extended metaphor in which objects and events hold symbolic meanings outside of the literal meanings made explicit in the narrative. In Wyatt's sonnet, the hunter's pursuit of the hind can be held to represent Wyatt's pursuit of Anne Boleyn, and the hind's being the property of Caesar can represent the "ownership" of Anne Boleyn by King Henry VIII. All of the accompanying descriptions of the hunt and the hunter's emotions, then, can be applied to this actual romantic situation.
Petrarchan Sonnet
The Petrarchan sonnet, also known as the Italian sonnet, consists of two separate sections. The first part is the octave, an eight-line stanza, wherein a problem or issue is put forth. The second part is the sestet, wherein some resolution to the problem is provided. In "Whoso List to Hunt," the octave describes the futile pursuit of the hind, while the sestet explains why the hunter cannot capture his prey: she is the property of her royal master, and to capture her would endanger both the hind and the hunter. More specifically, Wyatt's sestet consists of a quatrain (four lines) and a couplet (two lines), as can be seen in examining the rhyme scheme. Petrarch divided his sonnets into octaves of abbaabbaand sestets of various rhyme schemes, usually cdecde or cdcdcd. Wyatt's rhyme scheme is slightly different:abbaabba, cddc, ee. Within such structures, certain rhymes may be somewhat irregular, particularly in that certain words may have been pronounced differently in Elizabethan times. In Wyatt's sonnet, wind, as in "breeze," with a short i sound, is held to rhyme with the long i of hind, behind, and mind. Similarly, in the last couplet, the long a of tame is held to rhyme with the short a of am. In reading that couplet aloud, one might distort the sounds of either or both of those words in order to approximate a rhyme. In ending with a couplet, Wyatt puts emphasis on both of the last two lines; in contrast, the Petrarchan form places more emphasis on the last line of the octave and the last line of the sestet.
The most common meter of the Elizabethan period was pentameter, wherein a line of verse contains five measures, or feet. If each foot contains two syllables such as with an iamb, where the second syllable is stressed each line will contain a total of ten syllables. The resulting rhythm can heighten the reader's aesthetic appreciation of and emotional response to the poem. The best way to understand iambic pentameter is to read a poem aloud, paying close attention to the sounds of the stressed and unstressed syllables. Wyatt's use of iambic pentameter was irregular; in fact, when some of his poems were included in Tottel's Miscellany, the printer revised and smoothed out the meter. In "Whoso List to Hunt," lines 1, 4, 6, and 8 contain eleven syllables, and line 14 contains only nine syllables; the remaining lines all contain the expected ten syllables. With respect to the measures, or feet, line 10, for example, can be read as a sequence of five iambs; in line 5, on the other hand, only the last two feet are true iambs, while the first three are either trochees, with the first of two syllables stressed, or spondees, with the first and second syllables both stressed. Wyatt used meter and measure irregularly to create his own style.
Visual Imagery
Within a poem, the relationships between images can suggest important meanings. Line 3, "The vain travail hath wearied me so sore," calls to mind the image of a hunter weary with a chase; in being aware of the poem's allegory, the reader will associate this image with a suitor who has exhausted himself in trying to court the object of his affection. Throughout the poem, then, images of the active hunt are associated with the romantic situation in question, endowing it with a degree of excitement that might not otherwise be present. Indeed, effective visual imagery allows the reader to experience a poem in a heightened fashion

05-22-2010, 07:25 PM
: 10 - 11 - 2007
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  is a glorious beacon of light

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud by William Wordsworth

The Daffodils" is an 1804 poem by William Wordsworth. It was inspired by an April 15, 1802event in which Wordsworth and his sister, Dorothycame across a "long belt" of daffodils. It was first published in 1807, and a revised version was released in 1815. In anthologies the poem is sometimes titled "I wandered lonely as a cloud."
Original Poem
'"I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud (The Daffodils)" by William Wordsworth I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze. Continuous as the stars
that shine and twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
tossing their heads in sprightly dance. The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
in such a jocund company:
I gazed - and gazed - but little thought
what wealth the show to me had brought: For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
The speaker says that, wandering like a cloud floating above hills and valleys, he encountered a field of daffodils beside a lake. The dancing, fluttering flowers stretched endlessly along the shore, and though the waves of the lake danced beside the flowers, the daffodils outdid the water in glee. The speaker says that a poet could not help but be happy in such a joyful company of flowers. He says that he stared and stared, but did not realize what wealth the scene would bring him. For now, whenever he feels "vacant" or "pensive," the memory flashes upon "that inward eye / That is the bliss of solitude," and his heart fills with pleasure, "and dances with the daffodils."

The four six-line stanzas of this poem follow a quatrain-couplet rhyme scheme: ABABCC. Each line is metered in iambic tetrameter.


This simple poem, one of the loveliest and most famous in the Wordsworth canon, revisits the familiar subjects of nature and memory, this time with a particularly (simple) spare, musical eloquence. The plot is extremely simple, depicting the poet's wandering and his discovery of a field of daffodils by a lake, the memory of which pleases him and comforts him when he is lonely, bored, or restless. The characterization of the sudden occurrence of a memory--the daffodils "flash upon the inward eye / Which is the bliss of solitude"--is psychologically acute, but the poem's main brilliance lies in the reverse personification of its early stanzas. The speaker is metaphorically compared to a natural object, a cloud--"I wandered lonely as a cloud / That floats on high...", and the daffodils are continually personified as human beings, dancing and "tossing their heads" in "a crowd, a host." This technique implies an inherent unity between man and nature, making it one of Wordsworth's most basic and effective methods for instilling in the reader the feeling the poet so often describes himself as experiencing.

Rhyme Scheme

I wandered lonely as a cloud A
That floats on high o'er vales and hills, B
When all at once I saw a crowd, A
A host, of golden daffodils; B
Beside the lake, beneath the trees, C
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze. C

Continuous as the stars that shine D
And twinkle on the milky way, E
They stretched in never-ending line D
Along the margin of a bay: E
Ten thousand saw I at a glance, F
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance. F

The waves beside them danced; but they E
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee: G
A poet could not but be gay, E
In such a jocund company: G
I gazed - and gazed - but little thought H
What wealth the show to me had brought: H

For oft, when on my couch I lie I
In vacant or in pensive mood, J
They flash upon that inward eye I
Which is the bliss of solitude; J
And then my heart with pleasure fills, B
And dances with the daffodils. B

A. Cloud, crowd
B. Hills, daffodils, fills, daffodils
C. Trees, breeze
D. Shine, line
E. Way, bay, they, gay
F. Glance, dance
G. Glee, company
H. Thought, brought
I. Lie, eye
J. Mood, solitude

The story is told in retrospective

05-22-2010, 07:26 PM
: 10 - 11 - 2007
: 14,922
: 23
  is a glorious beacon of light

Death Be Not Proud by JOHN GUNTHER Death Be Not Proud by JOHN GUNTHER


The opening page of Death Be Not Proud prints ##John ne's# poem, Divine Meditation 10, which begins with the words "Death, be not proud." The famous poem, written when ne himself was sick with smallpox, describes the various ways in which death is a less powerful enemy than normally thought, and it ends with "Death, thou shalt die!"

John Gunther (hereafter referred to as Gunther) writes that this memoir is about death and what his son Johnny courageously endured, in an effort to provide hope to others who have to deal with similar pain.

Johnny was born in Paris on Nov. 4, 1929, and he lived with his family in Vienna and London until he was six years old, when they moved back to the U.S. He attended public school and then his beloved Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts, and he died at age of seventeen on June 30, 1947, after a fifteen-month bout with his illness. He would have entered Harvard the previous fall.

Gunther describes Johnny as tall, still adolescent looking, and with beautiful hands. He mentions Johnny's wit, affability, and above all his selflessness, illustrated with an anecdote about Johnny's anxiety about breaking the news that he had a tumor to his parents.

Johnny's early interests were in art, music, water sports, chess, and other hobbies. He had an extremely high IQ, but he was sometimes an inconsistent student, introspectively daydreaming and showing up late. Still, he generally excelled in his academics, especially in theoretical sciencehe wanted to be either a physicist or a chemistand he kept a science laboratory at home, where he happily performed experiments.

Johnny was also very close with his parents, especially his mother, Frances, from whom Gunther is divorced. Johnny split time between them, and from Frances especially he inherited his combination of maturity, both intellectual and personal. Gunther also remarks on Johnny's exceptional willpower, his ability to provide diligent self-criticism, but mostly how his keen intelligence never got in the way of his gentle nature, summed up in his childhood desire to "do some good for the world."


Near the start of this brief foreword, Gunther quickly issues a disclaimer about not trying to give an overly sentimental retelling of Johnny's life. While he often does present anecdotes to show how good a person Johnny was, his elegant prose style for the most part utilizes these stories to shed light on what "good" in itself means: highlighting those actions and words of Johnny's that indicate how he is selfless, empathetic, curious, and mature. Johnny has all these qualities and more, and his greatest personality asset is his combination of child and adult: He is curious for knowledge without being greedy, and he loves people and things unconditionally for their own sake; he has a child's passion for life and an adult's sensitive maturity for how to approach life's pitfalls.

Johnny's scientific precision and penchant for daydreamingfurther contradictory qualitiesform a young man who can speak his mind, even with critical intentions, such as his discussions with Gunther about the deficiencies of his journalistic reporting. But, Johnny's sensitivity allows him to be critical in such a way that the listener benefits from his words, since above all Johnny never seeks to harm anyone. This overall drive to be good is summed up in his concept of religion at age six: "God is what's good in me." While the ne poem takes a seemingly violent approach to defeating death, Johnny's embrace of the joys of life acts as his own savior throughout his illness, letting him always see the sunlight on the otherwise bleak horizon.

A main issue that will develop in the memoir is the acceptance of death versus resigning oneself to it. Gunther reproduces the effect on us, when we learn, by the second paragraph, that Johnny will die. Much like in Shakespeare's ##Romeo and Juliet,# this advance warning heightens the tragedy; we come to love Johnny as we await his certain end, knowing that each moment of hope will be followed by a period of despair



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