The theme of possession
Posted by Jane Elizabeth on October 21, 1997 at 13:32:52:
In response to Theft of Letters: Impetus to Action, written by Karen R on October 20, 1997 at 17:49:42
Who and what is possessed - that certainly is the major theme, and you rightly point out that by stealing, possessing the letters Roland sets everything in motion. Is he possessed by Ash, or does he possess the poet by so minutely studying the work? It is not enough, suddenly, for Roland to possess the knowledge in the letters. He wants the physical objects so badly he takes them.
If Roland we not so indistinct a personality he never would have been able to gain Maud's confidence, because of her fear of being taken over, possessed. He is in a way a feminist hero, because he takes a back seat to just about everyone in the story, especially Maud.
Karen, you refer to Ash as a minor poet, but isn't he supposed to much more famous? I tried to find a Victorian poet who might have been a model for him, but Byatt is too good a writer and inventor to have simply cloaked an existing poet in fiction. I do think she means him to be on par with, say, Browning or even Tennyson, who she uses in Angels and Insects.
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