An affluent womanizer, Tony Bream. The nicest, sweetest girl, Jean Martle. A desperate lover abroad too long in China, Dennis Vidal. The odd Rose Arminger. They all seem like characters from the famed game Clue. In The Other House, Henry James writes an awkward murder mystery vis a vis a novel of manners that begins with some piquant flavor of the supernatural
Woman is almost wholly missing from the Romantic confrontation with the arctic. Where she tries to enter, she is silenced, ineffective. But in this Victorian landscape we witness some permeability in which saving the tainted man is possible through, of course, the sweet truth of a pure, angelic woman. But here, the artic, Dante-esque devil meets his foil and one soul has been saved. The heroic act occurs within the domestic sphere in the safety of the English shrubbery.
At the close of Can you Forgive Her? readers are asked to follow suit and forgive Vavasor -- easily -- for what she has done. As a reader in the 21st century I could really care less about her jilting Grey; I once jilted a lover. What I struggle to forgive in Vavasor is her insistence that she can never want to forgive herself.
The shroud of suffocating fog that permeates “the dirtiest streets” of London at the opening of Bleak House finds its way into every crevice of modern life, from Tom-all-Alone’s to the Dedlock estate.
In what are some of the most lukewarm descriptions of an insane woman on the verge of murder I have ever read in a Victorian novel, Trollope describes Murray's descent into madness like a stroll through the park. Even when she does shoot a bullet through Daniel's shoulder it seems like a domestic shot. She closes her eyes, mews like a kitten, and then, after the fact, becomes a shadow of her former self.
At the opening scene of Cary Fukunaga's film my heart sank down into my heels and then, from there, I only stomped the ground with a red face throughout the rest of the film, trying to crush and smother the disappointment and anger that swelled through my body.
Florence Nightingale gets the picture right of Victorian work: motherhood is the ultimate form of labor.