Posted by Cassia on November 10, 1997 at 19:18:58:
In response to Bertha, written by Hil on November 09, 1997 at 18:31:32
] Given that nothing in Byatt is there for no reason, what are we to make of the entry's in Ellen Ash's Journal about the pregnancy of their servant, Bertha?
] Bertha's pregnancy becomes noticeable at the time Ash takes off to Yorkshire with Christabel. When Ellen finally talks to her about it, Bertha refuses to say 'who is the reponsible man', but is sure that he can't take care of her in any way. She says 'What can I do' over and over, and 'It all continues on whatever I will'. Ellen thinks this a strange thing to say!
] Do we entertain the idea that Ash is the responsible man, despite Ellen writing 'I do not believe my dearest Randolph would ever consider applying his hand - or anything else - to any young person in our employment. Do we in addition entertain the idea that Ellen suspects its Ash, while saying the opposite, as the next thing she says is 'I must ask Bertha to go, before he returns; it is my duty.'
] Or we could consider her brother-in-law, Barnabas. Ellen describes her sister, Patience, as having lost her bloom in several ways since her last lying in. 'she says Barnabas is the most considerate husband a woman could have, in this situation.'
] Or do you think Byatt just uses the whole Bertha situation to show us Ellen's naivety in these matters, and as a neat forshadowing of what Christabel will go through with her pregnancy?
Like most of the things in the novel I think we ae ment to consider all of the possibilities. Is Ash the father or isn't he, did Bertha eventually go to the father, ect? In this work Byatt semms to delight in telling us that we can't know. Nothing ever seems to be our business. She tantilises us with information but gives us no answers.
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