Thursday, March 13, 2008

Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell part 2, continued.

"Let me see your garden plans," said Roger, looking over Molly's shoulder. They reminded him of his mother's garden. (We noticed that after planting this garden, it had grown quite a bit by the last episode. In the arbor behind Molly, is where she and Cynthia sat and talked.)

So far, we have seen the sweet character of both Molly and her young friend, Roger Hamley. In contrast, her new stepsister, Cynthia wants to have secrets and weaves a tangled web of insincerity regarding her relationships with people. Interestingly, Roger's brother also keeps secrets of great consequences from his father. The fact that he is married and is expecting a child, is kept from his father because his father hates the French. "I remember once Madam wanted a French maid. I'd sooner keep snakes in the house!"

"In my day," he said, "We were content to hate the French. Aye, and beat them at sea and on the land!" Osbourne married a French woman while he was abroad, and never told his father. It strains their relationship and takes its toll on Osbourne's health. He shares the secret with Molly so that someone will know of his wife, Aimee's whereabouts and be able to help her, in case anything happens to him. Now Molly is having to keep a secret, even from her father. She doesn't like doing it, but she made a promise not to reveal anything to anyone.

Her step-sister also has a secret: she tells Molly she is secretly engaged to Mr. Preston. Once again, Molly has to agree to secrecy. "I do so hate these underhanded dealings!" she tells Cynthia, when Cynthia wants to involve her.

Hopefully, the reader comes to admire Molly and want the best for her. One cannot help thinking, at this stage of the story, that Molly must wish for her old life back, when things were simple, and the only one she had to please and give comfort to, was her father.

"I think you must be a very good person, Molly," Cynthia tells her. "I am not very good, myself. In fact I gave myself up as a heartless baggage, years ago." They both fall into laughter.

Molly happily picking berries in her apron before she arrives home to learn the startling news.

Blueberries staining her hands and her apron, Molly mourns the loss of Roger as her best friend, now engaged to her step-sister, Cynthia.


yoshi3329 said...

I've never red the book but you make it look like a good read!

By the way, you been tagged! If you'd like to play visit my blog for the rules!

Mrs. K's Lemonade Stand said...

I just wanted to say I really enjoy your blog and have added a link to it on my blog. :) I hope that is ok with you.

Lydia said...

You can link to me and I will put you on my side bar. However, be sure to read my comment about this in an earlier post. It says in essence that if I have your link, you might inherit my dissenters and the resident critics. They go along my links and create problems sometimes for other homemakers.

Ethridge Family said...

NOOOOOO - you can't leave me hanging?!!!

I have the miniseries in my Netflix Que - it's next in line after I return the Doris Day movie I have.

I need to get to the library to get the book too - I would be reading and reading right now!!

Lydia said...

Don't worry. Molly remembers the rules of civility and behaves with true nobility, congratulating the couple, and being content as best she can. I loved this example of coping with life's disappointments, especially for the young. She cried awhile and then she kept on with her life of true service. If she had any bitterness, she gave it up quickly and recovered herself, becoming again sweet and innocent. I think it is important not to let our daughters wallow in self pity. It ruins their countenance and their youthfulness. It hardens their eyes. Molly kept a deep abiding contentment inside of her that she drew on when there were disappointments. She continued to live by good principles (aside from Cynthia's manipulation of her) and wanted to do what was right, no matter what the cost.

Anonymous said...

Lady Lydia
I was introduced to your blog by my grown daughter who is, by the way, a wonderful wife and mother.
Thank you so much for discussing one of my favorite books, Wives and Daughters, also introduced to me by her. I absolutely love it and have read the book several times as well as enjoyed the miniseries.
It contains so many lessons on so many levels that it would be hard to exhaust them all.
One of my favorite characters and one who I believe is often overlooked and not given the credit she deserves is Mrs. Hamley. Even the author seems to feel a bit sorry for her. But if you study the story carefully you can see that she was loved and honored by her husband and sons and meant so much to them. Mrs. Gaskell says of her - "she was the ruling spirit of the house as long as she lived"- Her children always knew where to find her; and to find her was to fine love and sympathy". Of the squire, "He was conscious of her pleasant influence over him, and became at peace with himself in her presence."
Inexperienced people don't realize the depth and intensity of love that passionate, honest and straightforward men like Squire Hamley are capable of and how Mrs. Hamley must have basked in such a love.
And she, in return, loved the squire enough to leave a life of glamour behind to live a retired life in the countryside.
Thanks for letting me share my thoughts.
God bless you for your efforts to encourage women to find joy and fulfillment in homemaking and family life.

Lydia said...

Yes, of course Mrs. Hamley must not be overlooked! I am still looking for pictures of her so I can make more comments about it. You are right, she was the ruling influence. I noticed her subtle ways of soothing over a volatile situation at dinner. And, she told Molly when the squire was upset and yelling, that "It is times like this that your being here really helps!" That is partly because when you have a third party at dinner or in the house, angry family members tend to be a bit more reserved, not wanting to show their bad side.

I quite liked Mrs. Hamely and the Squire as well. He respected her so much. He said he had to change his clothes before he went any further in the house. "Madam wouldn't like it," he said, "She's broken me in to her fine London ways, and I'm all the better for it!" He told her he wanted to buy her "the prettiest little Jersey" that he saw. He was a farmer and that was his version of a diamond.He wanted her to have the best.

Lydia said...

I would just like to comment more about Molly and Roger.

Roger is like a lot of young men throughout the ages: at first attracted and taken in by the flighty, flirty girl, whose loyalty remains constant until they see someone else. He returns to his senses and recognizes that all along, Molly was the person he truly loved. Molly was most concerned about Roger. What would Cynthia's inconstant behavior do to him? She wanted Cynthia to be loyal "and at least, try to deserve him." Roger was very interested in bugs,having won a fellowship at Cambridge for his research, which kind of brings you back to the significance of the opening scene where Molly is looking at a caterpillar on a leaf.

Molly's obedience is impressive. When her father asked her to hand over a love letter written by Mr. Cox on the sly, she immediately hands it to him. There is no strain between them because she loves her father more than anyone, so a mere letter from a boy would not have put a rift between them.

Roger has lost his mother and in one scene after Molly leaves Hamley Hall, he is shown standing there looking very lost and lonely. Molly thought of Mrs. Hamley as a mother, and the lost to her was great. The movie was carefully planned to follow the book. The descriptions of the people matched the descriptions in the book, for example, the way Lady Cumner spoke, without pronouncing her "r'" and the way Mr. Hamley looked: large and red and loud.