Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sylvia's Lovers - Be Careful What You Wish For

Elizabeth Gaskell wrote some wonderfully creepy stories--The Old Nurse's Story, The Grey Woman, Lois the Witch, among others--and Sylvia's Lovers puts them in mind tonight when I read about Philip and Sylvia's marriage. In so many of her stories, Gaskell plays with the theme of children being punished for the sins of their fathers. While that element is present only marginally with Daniel Robson's influence over Sylvia, the much stronger theme relates back to the post I wrote about the narrator's comments on prayer.

Philip lusted after Sylvia to the point where he failed himself morally (i.e., in not telling her that Kinraid was taken by a press gang), but even before he achieved his goal of marrying her he was subconsciously realizing that having his bird in a cage was not really what he wanted after all. While I've been reading SL, I've been trying to pin down who Philip Hepburn reminds me of--it's Lydgate, of course, from Eliot's Middlemarch.

I wish the narrator hadn't pointed out that Sylvia was married in mourning and the first sounds she heard on entering her home as a bride was the sound of weeping and wailing. As a reader, I would rather have made the connection myself instead of having it pointed out to me.

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