Alexandra Nadine

There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about. -Oscar Wilde

The Blazing World

Filed under: Uncategorized — alexandranadine at 4:39 am on Monday, March 5, 2012

I find The Blazing World by Margaret Cavendish, the Duchess of Newcastle a very important work. I read this book in a class with Professor Walkden last year, and it really sticks out to me as one of the most important and interesting texts I have ever read. It’s one of the very first examples we have of science fiction writing, from 1666- and it’s written by a woman! That’s still kind of a unique thing now- so think about what it was like in the 17th century! Cavendish was extremely influential in this way, and I remember we talked about how she was very well-known among men of science in her time. The Blazing World is a satirical and utopian tale about a woman who journeys to a fantastical land where she becomes the Empress.  There are tons of talking animal-people, like “bird-men” and “fish-men,” and there are ghostly armies, and a wonderful relationship between the Empress and the Duchess in the book. There are a lot of metaphysical and philosophical discussion as well, with a heavy descriptions of scientific tools and concepts. There is so much to talk about within this one text. The form is also almost stream-of-consciousness. Cavendish writes in long streaming paragraphs filled with metaphors and images and descriptions that go on for long amounts of time. She indulges herself in fantasy!  The story lines and the form are innovative for her time! I think this would be a pretty entertaining text to appear on the test. It might actually make it interesting!

Notes on a Scandal: “Unnatural” Sexual Relationships?

Filed under: Uncategorized — alexandranadine at 1:37 pm on Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I’m still reading Notes on a Scandal for class today, but so far I have a few comments. First of all, the narration is definitely something to think about. Barbara is a very unreliable narrator, and yet there is no reason to believe that she isn’t telling everything the way she perceives it to be. She even asks the readers to judge for themselves, although she’s talking about Sheba when she says this: “Readers will have to judge the credibility of this rationale for themselves. To me, it has always seemed a little suspect,” (81) she writes of Sheba’s plan to refuse Connolly in person. She asks us directly to look at the facts and judge for ourselves. Although she’s relating this to Sheba, it can be applied to herself. We can decide what information we think she is hiding or what the relationship truly consists of.

Sheba seems more mysterious than Barbara, but that might also be because we as readers are looking for secrets. She’s truthful, but there feels like there should be something deeper in her state of character, something that we can’t see. Even in the first few pages, Barbara, talking of Sheba, states, “she tosses out intimate and unflattering truths about herself, all the time, without s second though” (3) Sheba seems naturally open, yet she did harbor this secret of the affair. Why is she so open about details that other people would keep a secret? Why do we as readers find this bizarre? Once the secret is “out” she seems to want to talk about it- all the details and descriptions she gives Barbara don’t seem to indicate any sort of regret. Barbara even says at one point that she feels like Sheba regrets being found out, but does not regretting the action of the affair itself.

Barbara’s fascination with Sheba seems to be fueled by her own loneliness and is quickly turning into an obsession, which readers already knew was there due to the detailed descriptions of Sheba throughout the novel so far. The miniscule details that Barbara notices are certainly something a lover might notice. Her openness with sexuality is also described in the first few pages. What others would judge, Barbara questions. She states, “any species of sexual attraction that you can’t find documented on a seaside postcard fails the health test as far as these people are concerned” (6). This paragraph makes readers question the definition of a healthy sexual relationship right from the beginning of the book, automatically making us aware of our own judgements and what we think is “unnatural.” Quite a smart move on Heller’s part, I think.

I’m sure I’ll have more to say when I finish the book! You will hear more from me during class discussion, I’m sure. See you all there!

“You’re not playing with paper dolls.” The Children’s Hour by Lillian Hellman

Filed under: Uncategorized — alexandranadine at 11:40 am on Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mary is the most evil character we have experienced in our readings so far.  She has little motive other than to gain attention and make other people suffer.  I don’t care if Mary is a child-she’s a cold-hearted manipulative bitch in this play.  The smiles she gives after telling lies completely indicates this.  By the end of the play, she receives no punishment and we never see her feeling guilty or remorseful for the events that she set in motion.  This is a conscious move on the playwright’s part.  Sometimes there are no repercussions for the person who spreads lies.

It was irritating how easily Mrs. Tilford believed Mary.  I know she’s her grandmother, but Mary obviously has a flair for drama.  Mrs. Tilford’s rash action definitely shows that she enjoys gossip and drama, and that she is gullible, with a disregard for others.  “You’re not playing with paper dolls. We’re human beings, see?  We’re people.  It’s our lives you’re playing with” (46), Martha tells Mrs. Tilford, and I think this line is especially important regarding Mary.  Mary plays with people like dolls, twisting them around to do what she wants.  Her coldness and disturbing quality is mentioned various times throughout the play.

The twist of the play is that Martha is actually in love with Karen.  Although this was supposed to be a surprise, I saw it coming.  For Martha, the self-realization of her own sexuality is worse than when it had been a secret and when it had been a lie.  Her suicide is fueled by a number of things, including her guilt, unrequited love, and the life that was taken away from her.  Although the lie allowed this truth to come out, the truth does nothing but cause more grief.   Karen’s fiancé also leaves, and although he denies it, readers see the end of the engagement coming with Karen’s comments on how he is acting strangely. The tension between the two is subtle but very real. When we find out that he has wondered if the slander is true, it’s almost like a betrayal.  No matter what, the doubts they both have cannot be forgotten or erased.  In the final scene, Karen becomes quite cold and almost emotionless, as if she is in shock from all that has happened, and this is portrayed very well by her lack of tears and her understanding and overly rational comments.

The play is also a social commentary on the reaction of the public to homosexuality.  In the play, as soon as the two teachers are thought to be gay, the children are taken home.  What is the threat to the children if such allegations were true?  Mary keeps emphasizing the word “unnatural.”  Did Another question, posed by Martha near the end, asks if Mary somehow sensed something, did she completely make it up?  Either way, she knows exactly how to manipulate people at a young age.  Martha asks, “Where did you learn so much in so little time?” (50), completely baffled and frustrated.  This play definitely emphasized the overwhelming damage one lie can cause, and how someone so young can be capable of so much damage.  It reminds me of Atonement by Ian McEwan, in which a young girl’s wild imagination causes her to tell a lie that eventually destroys people’s lives as it does here.  The only difference is, in Atonement, the young girl shows remorse, and truly regrets her immature actions, which were less calculated than Mary’s.  Mary doesn’t seem likely to have any remorse at all.

Prospectus Response

Filed under: Uncategorized — alexandranadine at 5:36 am on Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Since I began thinking about the paper, I have always had The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald in my mind, partly because I absolutely love it, and partly because I know it would work with our topic. Writing the Prospectus definitely forced me to start thinking deeply about the paper- if I worked on Gatsby, where would I go with it? Professor Walkden helped me break my thoughts down into four major ideas, which really helped me focus and organize my thoughts. I’m working on secrecy and focusing entirely on The Great Gatsby, so far. One of my goals is to analyze Gatsby in a new and unique way. I have never written on Gatsby before, and have only talked about it in high school. I started flipping through the book and coming up with a lot of ideas and instances I could talk about in my paper. One of the things I want to work on is how secrecy builds the characters’ personalities. I also want to focus on the more subtle aspects of secrecy, but it’s hard to write about things that cannot be seen or described entirely. One of the problems I had with the Prospectus was fully explaining the ideas that I had in my mind. I’m most interested in what Walkden called the “aesthetics” of secrecy from my Prospectus. This was the word that I was trying to describe in my Prospectus, but couldn’t put my finger on.

Perhaps the most challenging part of this process will be finding additional sources. I want to find other pieces to work with, but it may be hard to find a source that will support my thesis. I found that the hardest part of writing the Prospectus was focusing on a specific issue. There are so many themes in this one book. I also don’t know exactly what texts I will be using, I didn’t want to lock myself out of any options. I wanted it to be broad enough that I could traverse between texts, but specific enough that I wasn’t floating around in limbo. I’m really excited about working on Gatsby because I’ve never gotten the chance to really think about it critically until now. I think there are many aspects of secrecy that are very subtle in the book, and I really want to bring those out. I’m looking forward to finding secondary sources or connect Gatsby to another work. I’d like to discuss how to use our secondary sources in class. Exactly how much of the paper should be secondary sources, and how much the main text that we’re talking about? See you all tomorrow!

Silence vs. Spoken Gossip: Physical Manifestation of Secrets in The Scarlet Letter

Filed under: Uncategorized — alexandranadine at 3:49 am on Wednesday, November 2, 2011

In The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, secrets have the power to create physical weakness and death. Dimmesdale suffers because of his guilt, his secret remaining hidden throughout the book. Hester, on the other hand, cannot hide. Her “crime” is blatantly visual- the A on her clothes and Pearl herself are symbols of Hester’s “sin.” Yet, throughout the book it seems that Hester and Pearl are both healthy and strong. This is because they are not hiding behind a secret. Hester chooses to keep the identity of the father of Pearl a secret, because it is his own burden to bare, and to admit. Although shunned, Hester becomes stronger throughout the book, while Dimmesdale withers away. Why does Hester always keep the letter on her? Is it perhaps because it’s easier to have her secret out in the open, so that people don’t talk about her in whispers? Hawthorne seems to emphasize the importance of accepting the truth throughout the book.

Unlike many of the other books we’ve read so far for our class, this book really emphasizes the physical impact the secrecy can have on individuals. Dimmesdale weakens from the inside out, his secret eating away at him. The book also glorifies women, or at least the main character. Throughout the book, Hester remains a strong-willed character, even in times of severe pain. Hawthorne writes “had there been a Papist among the crowd of Puritans, he might have seen in this beautiful woman, so picturesque in her attire and mien, and with the infant at her bosom, an object to remind him of the image of Divine Maternity…” (48, Barnes and Noble Classics edition). The narrator’s comparison of Hester to the Virgin Mary is really quite interesting. Although the comparison is used to emphasize the direct opposition to the “virgin” birth, I can’t help wondering if Hawthorne questioned the divine birth of Jesus Christ. Perhaps I’m reading too far into it, but it’s definitely an interesting topic to think about! I also think that Hawthorne makes it pretty clear that Chillingworth is not the type of husband any woman would want. He is “a deformed old figure, with a face that haunted men’s memories longer than they liked!” (145). Although the way his face looks isn’t necessarily Chillingworth’s fault, his personality is under his control. As readers we side with Hester, realizing she was in a trapped marriage with no freedom. Chillingworth’s obsession with revenge eats away at him- the secret that he cannot figure out haunts him. The secret has a very physical manifestation for Dimmesdale and Chillingworth.

I agree with Alyssa’s blog post, that there is not as much gossip in the novel discussing who the father of Hester’s child is. The fact is that everyone knows Hester has committed adultery and it is easier to blame her, since there is direct proof of that fact. Hawthorne writes, “the unhappy culprit sustained herself as best a woman might, under the heavy weight of a thousand unrelenting eyes, all fastened upon her, and concentred at her bosom. It was almost intolerable to be borne. Of an impulsive and passionate nature, she had fortified herself to encounter the stings and venomous stabs of public contumely, wreaking itself in ever variety of insult; but there was a quality so much more terrible in the solemn mood of the popular mind, that she longed rather to behold all those rigid countenances contorted with scornful merriment, and herself the object,” (49). This passage describes Hester’s reaction to the gossip and slanders against her- she prefers that than the silence. It seems that the judgmental glare of the public is much more hurtful then the taunts or insults they might yell out, which Hester could “smile” to. The “solemn mood” of the crowd affects her much more than the open slandering that she expected and preferred. Is this an indication that gossip is less serious than silence? Is gossip more for entertainment, whereas the silence Hester witnesses is the real judgment? Many times people wish for people they have wronged to “say something” because silence is worse than the verbal judgment they’d have to endure. Why is this silence so painful? The absence of gossip is perhaps more judgmental than the gossip itself- the thoughts that aren’t even said aloud.

Tittle Tattle and Closing Thoughts on Emma

Filed under: Uncategorized — alexandranadine at 4:02 am on Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I already read this book a few years ago, so I may be a little biased.  I knew Emma would end up with Mr. Knightley (who didn’t, really?)  I always felt this was extremely predictable.  Again, I already read it, so maybe that’s my bias, but to me, Austen’s novels are always a bit like Shakespeare’s comedies.  There’s always a point where I feel most people have already figured out who’s going to end up with who…but we enjoy watching it happen nonetheless.  Why is this?  I’ve realized that it’s Austen’s details and dialogue that keep me interested.  It’s the minor characters along with the main characters that keep the story flowing.  In The Tittle-Tattle of Highbury, Finch and Bowen state, “In telling the story of Emma, the novel inevitably also narrates the story of Highbury, the civic drama of suspicious glances, mysterious gifts, and annoying newcomers, the story of events that in the narrative economy of the novel returns ultimately to speak about Emma again” (8).  Here, Finch and Bowen describe the cyclical motion of the novel’s story.  Emma is involved with gossiping and thinking of other characters, and these characters gossip about her.  Although we are focusing particularly on Emma, each character has a separate story and dialogue that connects with the others, even if it’s for a short time.  As readers, it often feels like we’re over-hearing conversations as we stand near the speakers, out of view.

Another quote of Finch and Bowen reminded me of our discussion on the meaning of the word “secret”:  “Emma’s engagement to Mr. Knightley constitutes a ‘secret’ that is no secret, a surprise that is not one, precisely because it marks the moment when the inevitable is realized, when the subject is brought into perfect correspondence with the imperatives of its social environment…” (2).  The engagement is not a secret once someone knows about it.  It was also “inevitable,” which is what the readers have recognized as well.  When Knightley proclaims his love for Emma, readers know what will come.  We think of Emma and Knightley as our own friends or acquaintances, who we’ve always thought would get together.  We’re not surprised by this match, but we’re still invested in their lives and have to follow it through.  Once it’s revealed, there is no more gossiping to be done.  That fact has stabilized their relationship, and so the gossip is weakened.

I won’t go into my qualms about the book, but I will say this- I feel like Emma changed too easily and too quickly to be realistic.  It’s as if Austen, or at least the narrator, wanted to show that Emma was silly for not wanting to get married.  In the end she is getting married, after all.  Everything that Mr. Knightley said was right, and she basically changes so that their marriage can happen.  Although she doesn’t do this consciously, it’s still a fact of the book.  I’m not saying it’s not a change for the better, but still- at least in Pride and Prejudice, both the main characters change.  Here, Knightley just stands by watching her make a fool of herself and when she’s “matured” enough, he marries her.  I know this is probably a common reading of it, but I can’t really shake that thought frame from my mind.  I can’t really see why Knightley is in love with Emma or what’s so particularly fascinating about her.  Yet, she captivates me as a reader- and she’s a uniquely flawed heroine.  Austen has a tendency to cause conflicts within her readers, which is why she is a such a talented writer.  I still don’t know how I fully feel about this book!

Emma: Infuriating yet charming?

Filed under: Uncategorized — alexandranadine at 12:48 pm on Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Emma infuriates me.  I’m irritated by her, and also amused.  I don’t even know if I like her.  This book definitely plays on the emotions of the reader, and we react just the way Austen probably wants us to react.  Emma acts like she wants to help people, but I sense that she really just wants credit for making everyone’s lives wonderful.  Mr. Knightly is the only person who tells her the truth, such as when he told her she made a “lucky guess” during her matchmaking debut.  As the book continues, Emma is so oblivious that I sometimes think it’s very purposeful, almost like an act.  Everything she does seems superficial.  We haven’t learned very much about Emma herself, except that she has become invested in Harriet’s happiness, and she wants her father to be constantly happy.  Yet the way she acts is a clue to how she feels.  It seems that Emma is bored by her life, or at least unexcited by herself, so she focuses on other people’s lives.  Doesn’t that feeling fuel most gossip?  Furthermore, Emma doesn’t want to get married, which is probably the most interesting fact we have learned about her thus far.  This indicates that she must have some sense of “reality” or some fear of marriage in the back of her mind.  Yet she chooses to fill her time up with making other people happy, especially when it comes to their love lives.  I tend to lose interest in Emma quickly, due to her superficial personality and haughty arrogance.  It’s obvious that she has feelings for Mr. Knightley, especially during the scene in Volume II when she lists all the reasons that Mr. Knightley would not benefit from marriage. She doesn’t want to get married… and she doesn’t want Mr. Knightley to get married.  Could this be any more obvious?  Yet the narration is wonderfully talented, because the thoughts of Emma are embedded in the narration of the third person narrator.  The narration seems to switch from third person to first person many times during the novel.

Emma’s snobbery about being of a higher class than someone like Mr. Martin is purposefully irritating.  Readers are obviously supposed to see that this attitude will get her into trouble, and it does.  Her confidence definitely takes a blow when she realizes that Mr. Elton is enamored by her and not by Harriet.  And Harriet?  I understand that she’s an innocent girl who has not had much experience with the world- but really?  This is certainly a warning to all readers- do not let other people make decisions about love for you (and don’t let some random woman take over every decision of your life.)  However, Emma’s language is crafty and manipulative- she makes Harriet believe the choices are her own, when Emma has already placed the choice subconsciously in her mind.  This novel emphasizes the power of language, especially when slandering or manipulating someone.  Gossip is certainly an important part of Emma’s society.  The party at the Coles emphasizes the subtle gossip that travels from person to person, such as the mystery between Churchill and Jane.   The genius of Austen is that even readers who are disillusioned by Emma herself (like me) still become invested in the storylines of other characters and Emma herself.  Therefore, I must take back what I said about losing interest in Emma- if anything, I’m completely wrapped up in her foolishness and can’t wait to see what Mr. Knightley says next!

A Few Points on Secret History

Filed under: Uncategorized — alexandranadine at 11:45 am on Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Leonora Sansay’s Secret History is written in the form of connecting letters. Readers don’t see the letters received by the narrator, but only the letters that the narrator is sending to her friend. The letters represent the secret conversations between two people, containing gossip and news about many different characters in the narrator’s life, especially about her sister Clara. Sansay’s choice to write in a series of letters instead of something like chapters automatically creates the sense of secrecy and confidentiality. As readers, we are looking upon something that was not meant for everyone to see.

A point in the text that reminded me of our discussion on libel occurred on page 97. A Frenchman who Clara was socializing with has become enamored with her. He is sent away by General Rochambeau. Regarding the Frenchman, “whilst there he wrote a pathetic and elegant little poem in which he represented himself as the victim of the general’s jealousy, who thus sought to destroy him for having interfered, and not unsuccessfully, with his pursuits. The paper was sent to the man with whom he had lived, and who handed it to everybody” (97). Here, the poem has created anxiety and intense drama in the story, and is quickly distributed. Gossip and rumor is passed from hand to hand in the form of a poem. Continuing, “the house of this man was surrounded by guards, who […] conducted him on board the vessel where his friend was confined […] the poem was heard of no more” (97-98). The poem, which is the source of tension between the characters of the story, is cut off by those who the gossip affects.

Sansay definitely focuses on the treatment of women in this book. When speaking of the French, she states, “every girl sighs to be married to escape from the restraint in which she is held whilst single…” (96), an interesting quote that seems to be the opposite of what society feels like today. “A husband is necessary to give her a place in society; but is considered of so little importance to her happiness […] and when her heart, in spite of custom, feels the pain of being alone, and seeks an asylum in the bosom of her husband, she too often finds it shut against her” (96). The narrator continues, “she joins with unblushing front, the crowd who talk of sentiments they never feel…” This line indicates that the women described here talk of things as if they experience them, but have really not. The narrator seems concerned with authenticity throughout her letters. She seems to try and describe things truthfully, but because of the first person narration, how reliable is she? This entire section is based on what she perceives to happen, but how does she truly know?

Bring out your dead!

Filed under: Uncategorized — alexandranadine at 4:06 am on Wednesday, October 5, 2011

“Bring out your dead” – Monty Python & the Holy Grail and A Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe

While recently watching Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the plague scene disturbed and amused me at the same time. Did dead-carts really travel through the town yelling “Bring out your dead?” Well, according to Defoe, they did. (The quote “Bring out your dead” is written in this book, but I can’t find it at the moment!) In the book, the quote was definitely less humorous than the movie. Defoe’s book shows the pettiness of human beings in times of turmoil. Gossip and rumor increase panic in this book. The interest in “magick” and the “black arts” is fueled by the panic and fear of the people, and false remedies and medicines are sold through the talk and panic of the people.

Throughout the book, the narrator emphasizes the rumors and stories spread by the people of the towns that are affected by plague. At one point, he talks of specific stories spread: “But these stories had two Marks of Suspicion that always attended them, which caused me always to slight them, and to look on them as meer Stories, that People continually frighted one another with, … wherever it was that we heard it, they always placed the Scene at the farther End of the Town, opposite, or most remote from where you were to hear it” (73-74). I thought this quote was interesting, since it reminded me of what still goes on today. There always seems to be some horror or turmoil far away from the people who are gossiping about it. It’s interesting that people who are being affected by the Plague would talk of it being worse on the “other side of town.” Gossip here seems to be a coping mechanism.

On pg. 23 the narrator speaks of the “astrologers” and others who “filled the Peoples Heads with Predictions on these Signs of the Heavens, intimating, that those Conjunctions foretold Drought, Famine and Pestilence…” (23) Farther down, the narrator states, “Some endeavors were used to suppress the Printing of such Books as terrify’d the People […] The government being unwilling to exasperate the People, who were, as I may say, all out of their Wits already.” As we spoke of in class, written rumors can be just as powerful as spoken words. In this book, the narrator emphasizes how certain people rile people’s emotions up with fear so that they can sell their own goods and make a profit. Others steal items in the houses of the dead. The pettiness of human beings seems to be emphasized in this book. The narrator himself seems to be above this pettiness, and this level-headedness seems to be affected by his belief in God. The discussion of atheism is fascinating in this book. The narrator is horrified by it, and sees the Plague as something sent and controlled by God. Others have obviously turned to rituals and charms, or witch doctor medications- anything that may prevent the Plague. “It was indeed a Time of very unhappy Breaches among us in matters of Religion: Innumerable Sects, and Divisions, and separate Opinions prevail’d among the People” (24), the narrator states. “But after the Sickness was over […] things return’d to their old Channel again” (24). Here, it seems that the narrator is emphasizing people’s hypocrisy when it comes to their beliefs. They will believe what suits their needs at the time, especially when panic and fear are so strong.  But when you have people throwing themselves into pits of dead bodies to die themselves, and going mad with disease, there is only so much rationality one can expect.

Lady Windermere’s Fan

Filed under: Uncategorized — alexandranadine at 3:09 am on Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The first form of gossip that appears in this play is when Lord Darlington speaks to Lady Windermere of a woman who is being visited very often by an unnamed man. This gossip is fueled by Lord Darlington’s love of Lady Windermere. Because of this, he is easily swayed into jumping to conclusions about Lord Windermere. Gossip is fueled here by Lord Darlington’s own emotions. This idea of unfaithful husbands is placed in Lady Windermere’s head before she meets with the Duchess of Berwick, but the actual gossip that propels the action of this story is spread by the Duchess of Berwick. The Duchess is filled with awful advice that is used as comic relief, and gives us insight about her character. The Duchess of Berwick makes her daughter leave before she tells Lady Windermere the “gossip” about her husband seeing Mrs. Erlynne. Her daughter Agatha seems very sheltered, and never responds with more than a “Yes, mama,” which is curious given her mother’s way with words. The Duchess is filled with talk and advice for Lady Windermere. When Lady Windermere asks if all men are bad, the Duchess replies, “Oh, all of them, my dear, all of them, without any exception. And they never grow any better. Men become old, but they never become good” (I, 290-292). Comical, yes, but also an insight into the preconceived notions about men that the Duchess already holds- making it easy for her to spread and believe her own rumors and gossip. We learn more about the Duchess by learning that she only married her husband after his “incessant threats of suicide” and “before the year was out, he was running after all kinds of petticoats…” From the beginning, we see that the Duchess doesn’t seem to have the best of relationships with her husband- and although she says it started with love, her relationship started with guilt and manipulation. The Duchess isn’t the only one who speaks of gossip, secrets and suspicions. These subjects run through the entire play, and the main secret is the basis of the whole story.

In Act II, Lady Plymdale speaks of society’s disposition to gossip: “It’s most dangerous nowadays for a husband to pay any attention to his wife in public. It always makes people think that he beats her when they’re alone. The world has grown so suspicious of anything that looks like a happy married life” (118-121). This is obviously witty Wilde, but it also proves that the society in this book is one that is inherently suspicious of people, hence why gossip travels so fluidly through their conversations. By the end of the novel, Lord Windermere acknowledges the gossip about Mrs. Erlynne: “You don’t really know anything about her, and you’re always talking scandal against her” he tells Cecil Graham, who replies “I never talk scandal. I only talk gossip” (III, 266-268). The passage goes on to describe the “charming” quality of gossip, as opposed to scandal, an especially interesting passage for our class. Gossip is the more acceptable form of spreading information about people- whereas “scandal is gossip made tedious by morality” (III, 270-271). Does this indicate that scandal is attached to something deeper than gossip- a part of a person’s character and respect? Scandal can hurt, but gossip is for fun?

This play also exhibits the value in keeping knowledge to one’s self. Mrs. Erlynne doesn’t tell Lady Windermere that she’s her mother, nor does Lord Windermere. Sometimes it is better when something is not revealed. We saw this concept in the Manciple’s Tale. The crow would have been better off not saying anything at all, as we talked about in class.
Despite the unrevealed secret, perhaps the tragedy of this play is Lord Darlington’s unrequited love. Yes, he was very dramatic in his proclamation to Lady Windermere, given his speech that began with the impossibility of men and women being friends. I expected Lord Darlington to be set up with someone by the end (I guess I had The Importance of Being Earnest in mind).  Although this play seems to be a comedy, it is also dramatic and poignant at times- it mixes many different emotions. For example, Mrs Erylynne’s speech at the end of the play seems to contain tones of bitterness and regret.  The end of the play is melancholy and bittersweet. It quickly shifts to a high note with the engagement of Mrs. Erlynne and Lord Augustus, but the audience is still wondering if the secret will ever truly be revealed.

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