The Fate of Women
Posted by Karen R on October 23, 1997 at 16:38:52:
In response to Byatt's women, written by Jane E. on October 23, 1997 at 10:38:18
] I think the fate of the women in P. is interesting (STOP NOW if you haven't read to the end. Although it seems the few of us who are posting have done so more than once.) The Victorian women all end up tragically: Blanche, Christabel, Ellen. They are all intelligent, even gifted women who are defeated by the mores of their time. The modern women have problems, too, but they have the ability to remedy them. Val finds her metier and her prince; Maud learns to open herself to love; Leonora is earth-mother deluxe. I see Beatrice as the bridge generation. She is deflected from her true love, Ash, and relegated to studying Ellen's opaque journal. She truly was born too early, into an academic world that dismissed women.
] Bravo to Byatt for allowing the modern women to find their way. After the intense sadness of the Victorian story, particularly Christabel, it is a welcome relief.
] Did anyone else cry at the end of this book? That epilogue wiped me out.
Yes, Christabel's and Blanche's fates are sad, but I don't feel the same way about Ellen Ash. I guess the Victorian views are soooo alien to me. How could anyone live a life like that. A total sham existence. Lying about why they had no children. Would it have made any difference if she had married younger? I doubt it. OK, they had a different kind of love (master-slave). I'm afraid that I prefer choice that Jane Austen made--if the love is not there, stay a spinster.
Blanche's world is turned upside down. Yes, I feel sorry for her.
However, there is something in Christabel's story that you just have to admire. She had the courage to break out of the mold. To do the unthinkable. She pays the ultimate price alright, but she does not regret one thing that she has done (except the Blanche part). There is a certain triumph in what she pulls off--nearly single-handedly.
BTW, I can't recall ever crying, but then again I don't cry over books (only movies). Of course, it may have to do with the fact that when I am within sight of the end of the book (last couple of hundred pages), I may stay up till the wee hours of the morning because I don't want to put the end off until the next day. So, I'm too tired to cry or anything and just want to go to sleep!!!
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