Roland Redux: An Introduction to the Major Chracters (Excluding Val)
Posted by Cassia on October 20, 1997 at 15:21:19:
Sorry about the short post yesterday, some idiot pulled a fire alarm at the computer lab yesterday and we we're let in again. I should have gone to the library, much nicer class of people there!
To begin with everyone should read my synopsis post for all of the definitions of "possession" and obsession. If I'd have thought of it I'd have woven the definition of "romance" through out as well. That being the case, what do you think of Roland? Everyone describes him as, well, dull, steady; words which no longer describe to be virtues. Roland is a person without a place in his society, he likes the fiery aggression of Fergus Wolfe but everyone agrees his scholarship is first rate. He is, in a word dissapppointed, a word he associates with girlfriend of many years, Val.
I don't think he means to steal the letters. I don't think he steals them at all, rather they steal him. Think of it, he's just plodding along with his bits of lecturing and restaurant dishwashing when he find them there and they seem more alive than he is. Suddenly he's doing things he'd never consider when in his right mind. He is the one possessed, taken over, and without ever intending it he has begun a quest.
Into this morass he brings Maud, a fellow scholar and a woman of whom her former lover Fergus Wolfe says: "She thickens men's blood with cold." Maud seems to be not quite human with her stunning looks, her sharp mind, her insistance on order, distance. Still, I quite like Maud. The quote from Simone Weil is apt: "A beautiful woman...seeing herself in the mirror (notice not a mirror but the mirror) knows 'this is I'. An ugly woman knows with equal certainty, 'This is not I.' Maud ,though her fate falls to side that most people believe to be the more fortuitous, knows "This is not I" also. It is not easy to be an introverted beauty. I think people like to project their hopes onto beauties; we like to suppose they have no problems, that life's strifes touch them more lightly, that they exist for us to admire. We make demands, we demand they fufill our fantasy even if they aren't capable of doing so. Maud wants none of it. The dissoncance between what people perceive (or think they perceive) and what she is is to great. What can she do bebides retreat? Like Roland she isn't fiery or agressive so fighting isn't her way. Retreating, making herself untouchable is how she survives.Of course they misjudge one another; Roland doesn't think Maud appriciates the romance of the lovely bathroom at Seal Court-Maud underestimates Roland's imagination and his scholarship.
So another key word for this story might be "perception".
No one sees Beatrice Nest. Like Maud she keeps herself well under wraps for much the same reason. Dr Nest perceives her body to be disgusting due to her rather large bosom (I read an article about twins with 34HH bosoms yesterday [HH! frightening, I'm glad it's not me! I wouldn't even want to be DD but I am digressing], they both had breast reductions)so she layers herself under fuzzy, ever so English sweaters and is caught in the quagmire of Ellen Ash's voluminous diary. She feels not only is she ignored, she is despisesd for not making short work of Ellen's journal which were written as much as to conceal as reveal.
As for Blackadder and Cropper, I've never been able to quite make them out. Every time through the book I see them differently. Cropper is the worst of possessors, his covetousness (is that a word?) knows no bounds. My problem with Blackadder is that I can't tell what he wants besides standing in opposition to Cropper.
I love this novel!
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