Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Good Soldier - Ford Maddox Ford

The book starts out, in chapter one, with a description of Edward...and it's all positive. How wonderful he was, etc.

Now, only Chapter 3:
"Good GOd, what did they all see in him? for I swear there was all there was of him, inside and out; though they said he was a good soldier. Yet, Leonora adored him with a passion that was like an agony, and hated him with an agony that was as bitter as the sea. How could he arouse anything like a sentiment, in anybody?

Then, later in Part II:
"Well, Edward Ashburnham was worth having. Have I conveyed to you the splendid fellow that he was - the fine soldier, the excellent landlord, the extraordinary kind, careful and industrious magistrate, the upright, honest, fair-dealing, fair thinking, public character? I suppose I have not conveyed it to you. The truth is, that I never knew it until the poor girl came along - the poor girl who was just as straight, as splendid and upright as he. I swear she was. I suppose I ought to have known. I suppose that was, really, why I liked him so much - so infinitely much."

In Part II Chapter II we are told that Edward was forced to put up with Florence and her demands because of Leonora - because she was adamant that Dowell not get wind of the affair. Why does she care so much about his feelings? Is this a part of the unreliable narrator? Is she afraid that Florence will divorce Dowell and then be more of a threat to her marriage to Edward? Is Dowell just mistaken about the reasons that he never foudn out - is he just tyring to make himself feel less foolish by coming up with these elaborate reasonings? Why does Leonora think that he doesn't know... remember the scene at the castle, after the train ride? Dowell gives the impression to Leonora that he knows. She thinks that he knows but he doesn't. If she thinks that he knows, then why does Dowell say that she didn't want him to know?

See also the following passage as evidence that Leonora thought that dowell knew:
"[Leonora] had, then, taken it for granted that I had been suffering all that she had been suffering, or, at least, that I had permitted all that she had permitted. So that, a month ago, about a week after the funeral of poor Edward, she could say to me in the most natural way in the world - I had been talking about the duration of my stay at Branshaw - she said with her clear, relectibe intonation:

" 'Oh stop here for ever and ever if you can.' And then she added, 'You couldn't be more of a brother to me, or more of a counsellor, or more of a support. You are all the consolation I have in the world. And isn't it odd to think that if your wife hadn't been my husband's mistress, you would probably never have been here at all?'

"That was how I got the news - full in the face, like that."

Also, does Leonora send Florence as Edward and Nancy's chaperone for a reason? Does she suspect something between them, and hoping that it will come out, sends Florence to witness it, knowing that it will crush her? This isn't suggested, really, because it doesn't seem to be until after Florence dies that Leonora begins to get jealous and suspicious. Buy why send Florence, and why send her more as a spy than as a real chaperone?

Monday, July 25, 2005

The Good Soldier Quote

"But the real fierceness of desire, the real heat of a passion long continued and withering up the soul of a man is the craving for identity with the woman that he loves. He desires to see with the same eyes, to touch with the same sense of touch, to hear with the same ears, to lose his identity, to be enveloped, to be supported. For, whatever may be said of the relation of the sexes, there is no man who loves a woman that does not desire to come to her for the renewal of his courage, for the cutting asunder of his difficulties. And that will be the mainspring of his desire for her. We are all so afraid, we are all so alone, we all so need from the outside the assurance of our own worthiness to exist."