Ms. White Gloves Herself
Posted by Karen R on October 29, 1997 at 15:53:50:
In response to Metaphorical prowler, written by Jane Elizabeth on October 29, 1997 at 14:01:54
] ] I notice we haven't discussed Blanche much. Granted there's not much there, but I did notice something. In her suicide note she refers to herself as "superfluous." Then at the start of the next chapter, Val uses the same word to describe herself. It's clear these two women are parallels, and I think it's interesting the way Val escapes from her miserable fate but Blanche doesn't.
] And hey...how 'bout those glove metaphors? Not to mention the round stones in her pockets. God, no wonder Christabel was a mess. Blanche used C's souvenirs of the Yorkshire trip to KILL herself.
I've been wanting to bring up Blanche's role, but haven't come to solid conclusions yet. Throughout the text, I've put little "Vals" next to things written about Blanche. (I think I need notecards a la Roland and Maud.) There is definitely a parallel effort under way.
Blanche writes that Christabel had "...no real need of epitolary adulation. I only wish I were as sure of mine." Sound very much like Cassia's description of Val's lack of confidence, her sabotaging her own academic career, her June Cleaverish lifestyle. And the quiet, the silence...
Blanche does serve another purpose with her art, in both subject matter and style.
The white glove image, at least to me initially, was one of all things prim and proper--consistent with the Victorian period. Then you read the titles of the scholarly treatises at the Lincoln Libary, especially the one about Blanche, called "White Gloves: Blanche Glover: Occluded Lesbian Sexuality in LaMotte." Now, Byatt is making fun of the whole feminist take on LaMotte. I mean, a little later on Maud makes the comment "the dates fit. You could make up a whole story. On no real evidence." Ah, scholarship!! But then, I ran across this comment about Browning's poems on sexual love:
...he places his lovers in the reality of mid-Victorian fashion and decor. Intimacy and consummation of love are evoked by the glove, a fan, the curtains of a room, the cushions of an empty sofa bearing a faint perfume of the woman whose skirts have pressed casually against them.
So, does that mean there really was a relationship between Christabel and Blanche? Could be, but that it was over in the same way that Roland/Val's was and had entered the stage of "silence."
Stones.....These have bothered me for a long time and I included them in our early listing of images. They are everywhere and not just in Blanche's pocket. We need to discuss these and many of the other items on that list.
Hmmmm, I need to think about including Ellen in that group some more. There is an early reference about Bea's work with the Ellen diaries and Blackadder comments that "Ellen Ash is dull." To me, she is anything but dull. She holds the key, literally and figuratively. The other two ladies IMHO aren't in her league. She's way tooo important.
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