Author: swingwingswing

A “Rache” for his lover or himself?

In A Study in Scarlet, it seems to us that Hope had spent so many years of planning and plotting to avenge his lover Lucy Ferrier. However, there is a possibility that he killed Drebber and Stangerson because he refused to give in and accept the fact that they had ruined his engagement.

When he got back to Salt Lake City, Lucy had already married to Drebber. Nonetheless, he did not plan to elope or have a runaway with her. It is skeptical that he did not look for Lucy immediately. Instead, he “strode off down the gorge and so away into the heart of the mountains to the haunts of the wild beasts” (Conan Doyle 107), heading to nowhere. If he was so in love with Lucy, he would have gone to find her right away when he knew that she was forced to marry Drebber. On the other hand, the author described him as more “fierce” and “dangerous” than the beasts. I doubt if he was in rage only for Drebber ruining his engagement and marrying the woman he loved. I also expected that he was sorrowful more than angry because Lucy had married a guy who did not love her at all and only aimed at her father’s properties. Until a month after the marriage of Drebber and Lucy, when Lucy pined away and died, Hope reappeared on the day before her funeral all of a sudden. Again, I expected that he would have at least taken her body with him and buried her at somewhere else. However, what he did was just kissed her, took away her wedding ring and then fled. Interestingly, the wedding ring appeared again in a later chapter. Hope “held the wedding ring in front of his eyes” and forced him to think of Lucy before he died (Conan Doyle 119). I suspect that the ring was being symbolized as Lucy by Hope. He used this ring to tell Drebber that he could never take her away from him. In this man-to-man war, Drebber has lost and he was going to die. In conclusion, Hope is a man with a strong possessive personality and his revenge is only a tool mainly to fulfill his urge to kill people who had blocked his way.

 

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The mother and the son

In my opinion, the insanity of Prince Hamlet, to a certain extent, can be attributed to the alteration in his relationship with his mother, the Queen of Denmark. Maybe Hamlet had once respected his mother in the good old days because she was such a great mother, who had loved her husband and her son more than anything else. Nonetheless, things were never the same after the mysterious death of his father and the unexpected marriage between the Queen and his uncle. Even though Hamlet had loved and respected her mother so much, he could not forgive the Queen marrying Claudius, just a month after his father’s death.

“…she – O God, a beast that wants discourse of reason would have mourned longer – married with my uncle…within a month…most wicked speed, to post with such dexterity to incestuous sheets!” (Shakespeare 15).

From the quotes above, we see that Hamlet condemned his mother for remarrying Claudius right after his father’s death. He could not understand why the Queen could forget the grief of losing her husband in such a short time. He described the marriage as an incest, which should not be accepted. From the text, we know that the Queen showed no unwillingness to marry Claudius. One can expect that the Queen remarried Claudius just because she wanted to keep the high status as a Queen in Denmark. However, it is also possible that she might know something about the murder or she might even involve in planning the murder of her husband. Hamlet, who was so contemplative and thoughtful, had probably suspected that the death of his father was related to the licentiousness between his mother and Claudius. Although I saw disgust and irritation in his words, Hamlet had never attempted to hurt the Queen. The quote, in fact, was just a self-talk after everyone in the room had left. He didn’t show his feelings of hatred in front of everyone. Or I should put it this way: people could immediately notice his disrelish in Claudius but not that in his mother. Nevertheless, it is not hard to understand why Hamlet had never thought of revenge his mother for her disloyalty and betrayal to his father because he had been in the mental status of alternating love and hatred for his mother and he had no proof that his mother was involved in the murder. In addition, since Hamlet was well-educated, he was less likely to deny the conspiracy of his mother. When the ghost of his father told him that his death was not a natural one and urged him to revenge for him, the immense psychological stress has pushed him further to insanity.

 

Art vs. Life

“…she a maiden of rarest beauty, and not more lovely than full of glee: all light and smiles, and frolicsome as the young fawn; loving and cherishing all things; hating only the Art which was her rival; dreading only the pallet and brushes and other untoward instruments which deprived her of the countenance of her lover.”

The theme of The Oval Portrait is perfectly disguised in the above quote. The painter can choose either his bride or his canvas, but not both. There is a clear relationship between arts and life – rivals. When the painter has chosen to work on his painting for days and nights, his wife was doomed to death. He was once a “passionate, studious and austere” person (Poe 291). However, after he had started to portray this young lady, there was a great difference in his personality. He was still passionate towards arts but he had also become “wild and moody” (Poe 292). This coincides with the worries and fear of the bride: the artwork would take away the love from his husband. The painter did not even realize how the portrait has withered her wife’s beauty and health because he rarely turned away from it.

This makes me think of The Birth Mark, which we read in previous class. In The Birth Mark, the passion for science of Aylmer killed his wife, just like the passion for arts of the painter killed his bride. Both female characters in the story were in subordinate position and manipulated by the male characters. Maybe I should not use the word “manipulated” as both of them were willing to die for their lover’s passion in other stuffs rather than themselves. In The Birth Mark, Georgiana risked her life just to fulfill Aylmer’s desire to experiment on removing her birth mark. In The Oval Portrait, the young bride sat in the dark room and smiled without any complains for countless weeks just to help the painter finish the portrait, no matter how weak and tired she was. Maybe both authors think that selfless love is something praiseworthy but why the victims in both stories are women? This can be a coincidence but I have another view regarding this question. We can see that the relationship between the wives and the husbands were extremely unequal. The wives devoted so much in the relationship while the husbands rarely did. In addition, we can notice that the authors never writes about the husbands appreciated the personality of the wives. Instead, both authors use a lot of words to depict how the husbands were obsessed about the beauty of the wives. In short, there is a possibility that both authors want to mock at the patriarchal society during that period.

Another aspect that I want to discuss here is whether the whole scene in The Oval Portrait was just a delusion of the narrator. He narrated in the beginning of the story that he was “desperately wounded” (Poe 290). He also admitted his “incipient delirium” might have caused him to have great interest towards those paintings.  It is possible that there were no connections between the book and the portrait of the young girl. The book was just a book that recorded the life of a painter and his wife and the portrait was just an ordinary painting that depicted the beauty of a young lady. He made connections between the two because his mental status was too chaotic due to his severe injury and tiredness from his journey. In a nutshell, his interpretation in all the things he saw in the chateau could be different if he was more conscious.