Friday, March 14, 2008

Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell, Volume 3

To listen online, go to this free link

Roger picks wild roses on the way to Molly's house to announce his new commission to Africa to participate in exploration and study.
The men in my family particularly enjoy this shot of Roger on the ship to Africa.

"Just don't let it happen again," Mr. Gibson tells Cynthia, after she encouraged the attentions of Mr. Cox, who proposed, and was turned down.

Cynthia tells Molly her woes: she is engaged to Robert Preston, and also Roger Hamley. Molly doesn't approve, of course. "Cynthia, how could you have gone and engaged yourself to Roger?" she asks.

Inside his tent in Africa, the scientist, Roger, writes to "dearest Cynthia"

I wonder if the creators of these period movies realize how important the props are, to the audience. Even the tea cups have to be authentic. Every fan of the era would be up in arms if even the china or furniture looked like a piece from the wrong period of time. This tea cup will be carefully examined by W & D people, and the web will be scanned for replicas of it.

Mr. Gibson's new wife, and new stepmother says, "I have that deep feeling about duty, that it ought to be spoken of in church, and sacred places like that, not in someone's sitting room, with everyone drinking tea!" Lady Cumnor has just chastised Hyacinth for being derelict in her duty to train up her daughter to behave properly toward men."

Molly and her new step-sister, Cynthia, share Cynthia's exhuberant joy at being allowed to go to London to see her relatives.

"Papa, how could you waste one of our evenings? We have but six evenings altogether, and I reckoned on us doing all sorts of things!" While Cynthia and her mother are in London, Molly once again has her father to herself.

"What sort of things?"

"Oh, I don't know. Everything that is unrefined, and ungenteel."
"By toil and labor, I've reached a fair height of refinement, and I wont be pulled down now!"

"Oh yes, just for a week you will!"

"What sort of things?"

"We'll have bread and cheese for dinner and eat it on our knees..."

"I used to bring your mother here," Mr. Gibson tells his daughter, Molly, as they sit and enjoy the scenery.

Part 3 ends with the scene of Molly standing in the woods with the beautiful meadows in the background. She has just helped to break off Cynthia's engagement to Mr. Preston.
There are several other side issues going on in this story: The Hamley family, the Browning sisters, The family at The Towers, Dr. Gibson's work and the people he visits, Mrs. Goodenough and The Duchess (that ill-mannered woman that kept them all waiting and then showed up looking more like a commoner. It was a great disappointment to Mrs. Goodenough, who said, "I thought she would at least come in her jewels or coronet."
I've always thought young girls ought to read Wives and Daughters because of the great contrast of the character of Cynthia and the character of Molly. Cynthia seems to be a little more upper-crust than Molly, yet she isn't very sensible. Molly is a doctor's daughter, who was not a rich person in those days, but she has a strong sense of duty.
Cynthia is foolish and downright silly, and creates problems wherever she lives. Some young women might watch the film version with naivity, thinking Cynthia is "pretty neat," because she has more fun than Molly. Cynthia only wants to be liked. She craves attention and when she gets tired of one person, she flirts with someone else, only to let them down after awhile. She wears flashy clothes and outrageous hair styles. She only wants to be happy.
Molly, on the other hand, knows that happiness only comes from standing by the principles she was taught, even if it means you might miss out on some fun. We have to carefully guide the young girls to mature beyond the shallow behavior exemplified by Cynthia.
Of course, Cynthia was raised without the authority and love of a father, and her mother left her in the care of others while she went to work as a governness. Cynthia admitted to not having a good relationship with her mother, and said,"If Mamma had wanted me to love her, she shouldn't have sent me away to school at four years old."


Unknown said...

Is that the gal who played Anne from Anne of Green Gables?

Lydia said...

There is a similar look of innocense in her, but it is a different actress.

Mrs. V. said...

Lady Lydia,

I am enjoying these posts so much! This is one movie that I will have to see.

I have been a long time reader of your blog. I linked to you in my side bar. If you would like to link to mine, that would be fine. I'm not worried about rude comments. I'll just be liberal with the delete button!

The work you do here is so wonderful and I must say that there is not another blog quite like yours. You offer us a place of encouragement and like minded company that is so hard to find these days.

Bless you,
Mrs. V.

Lydia said...

There are so many beautiful blogs, and particularly the homemakers. They create their blogs the way they create their homes: with great care and decorum, aware of their responsibility. This is one reason I don't allow too much negative in the comments section. I once read a beautiful article by a woman and then clicked on the comments and I was so shocked at what the young girls were saying to her. I went around with a knot in my stomach all day. I realize when ladies come to read, they want peace and not turmoil, so I delete the comments that would upset them or be contrary to the message that so many homemakers bring. If you allow too much negative, it attracts others, like flies, and it can depress people.

My daughter has a resident critic on her "staff" at, and she uses a lot of my hate mail for that column ;-)

Lydia said...

I will try to add new links within the next couple of days.

Anonymous said...

Whoa. What gorgeous scenery! I've seen the miniseries two or three times, but all that green still manages to make me pause in awe. (Here in the desert, there's a lot more sand, rock, and cacti, so I'm not used to seeing rolling hills blanketed in emerald hues. Say, I'm actually starting to feel poetic here. LOL.) Truly the Lord is marvelous in his works.

I also loved the part when Molly talks about all the fun she and her daddy will have during their week together. Made me want to have some special daddy-daughter time, too. (And I did have some yesterday. A driving lesson. As a parent of grown kids yourself, Lady Lydia, you can imagine how much fun daddy had watching his teenage girl slam on the breaks whenever he least expected it--unintentionally, that is.)

Oh, and I've read those etiquette posts on The Pleasant Times. I like how that tactful lady handles the rude folk.

But, back to W&D. I thought it was hilarious when Mr. Cox came back, all excited to see Molly again--only to have a complete change of plans upon meeting Cynthia. Reminds me of Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice, when he proposes to Lizzy, gets rejected, and then proposes to her friend Charlotte three days later. :)

Say, Lady Lydia, would it be too much to ask that you do more posts about other period dramas? Provided it's convenient for you, I think a lot of readers would enjoy it--maybe even resident critics. :)

-Christine from Arizona

Anonymous said...

Just beautiful! You have convinced me to take the leap from the long-beloved book to watching this movie version. The scenery alone is worth it, and if they have treated the story with as much respect as they have the countryside it will be time well spent. Many thanks for such a thorough treatment!

Cherish the Home said...

I have enjoyed these posts on Wives & Daughters very much, thank you!

Many Blessings,