Monday, 31 March 2014

Revealing Sarah's Motive.

My apologies, but there is to be as yet no relief from The French Lieutenant’s Woman.

After the Great Revelation, the angry response, and the turning on the heel to walk away from the still enigmatic but now seemingly flawed Sarah, Charles takes himself off to an empty church and does what I do frequently:

He splits himself into two people, an upper and a lower self, and then engages in a discourse in the hope of coming to a New Revelation at the end of the argument. (In my case, the upper self usually takes the form of something like an Isis figure; in Charles’s, it’s the figure of Jesus hanging on a cross a little way beyond the rood screen. Changing times, I suppose.)

And then, just like me, he finds the New Revelation. He presumes insight into Sarah’s mind and motive, and knows that her motive was entirely honourable: she was merely using deceit as a means of showing him the love he had for her – to which knowledge he was a stranger, courtesy of the rigid class system and a rich, pretty young bride-to-be called Earnestina. Unfortunately, Charles appears to be overlooking something, as those of us who have revelations are wont to do:

Sarah’s deceit had been to tell Charles that she had disgraced herself with the French lieutenant. He now 'knows' that she lied in order to provoke sympathy and reveal the latent sense of connection in him. But this doesn’t explain why she made the story of her disgrace a matter of public knowledge in Lyme long before Charles came on the scene. If this were me, I would find a way round the objection (in fact, I already have.) In Charles’s case, time will tell. Less than 100 pages to go.

But here’s something a little perplexing: As Charles is exulting in his realisation that he can have Sarah after all, we come across the following sentence:

Another scene leapt unbidden into his mind: Lady Bella faced with Sarah.

Who is Lady Bella? I recall no character of that name being heretofore mentioned. Who is she, and why does she suddenly appear as an adversary whom Sarah will handle better than Earnestina could? This is a damnably odd coincidence, and like all damnably odd coincidences, it’s probably entirely meaningless. But it’s still damnably odd.

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