Sergeant Cuff’s Manipulation

When I first read D. A. Miller’s The Novel and the Police, I understood what he was saying about authority and discipline because I could apply it to real life but I struggled with seeing it in the novel The Moonstone. Miller says “Disciplinary power constitutively mobilizes such a tactic of tact: it is the policing power that never passes for such, but is either invisible or visible only under cover of other, nobler or simply blander intentionalities (to educate, to cure, to produce, to defend)” (Miller 17). Reading farther into the character of Sergeant Cuff, however, and allowing oneself to step out of the point of view of Mr. Betteredge and question his opinions an reasons, it is plain that Cuff employs one of these policing powers that do not seem like they are. He does this through manipulation, particularly through playing off of other character’s pride. The best instance of this is when he is leaving the house after the investigation has apparently concluded. Betteredge has spent the entire last couple of chapters completely hating Sergeant Cuff for accusing his mistress Miss Rachel of stealing her own diamond. This is a especially sensitive accusation for Betteredge because of his affection and respect for his employers. However, the Sergeant is able to manipulate Betteredge into liking him despite this. Cuff says to him “I would take to domestic service to-morrow, Mr. Betteredge, if I had a chance of being employed along with You!” (185). By flat out flattering Betteredge, Cuff slides unseen into his good graces and in doing so is able to police him. Mr. Betteredge himself proves this by saying “I own I couldn’t help liking the Sergeant – though I hated him all the time” (186). Cuff has manipulated Betteredge to his advantage.

David’s Balancing Act

In his response to Erin O’Connor, Deirdre David attempts to find the middle ground between the essays by O’Connor and Spivak, which seem to be two polar opposite opinions on how to read Victorian literature. She acknowledges the points she agrees with from both authors and excellently ties them together to create an argument for the balance between the two theories. David says about Spivak, “Thanks to Spivak’s essay… we read Victorian fiction in a fuller way than we did twenty years ago- not necessarily better, but with an enlarged understanding, say, of the complex inseparable link between a spirited governess and a political world elsewhere. Thanks to Edward Said… we examine empire both as subject of representation and as material force in the production of Victorian literature, which doesn’t always mean we’ve undergone some sort of brainwashing” (683).  What I conclude from his piece is that David understands that in reading any text, one must be aware of the even potential historical and political implications on the piece of literature. To ignore such facts would be reading irresponsibly and blindly. While I think Spivak’s evidence about Jane Eyre could use some development, and I dislike her assertion that post colonialistic and feministic readings can never align, like David said, she makes a good point about reading for more. On O’Connor, David explains, “O’Connor wants us to question our evidence, and we should:… do we violate Brontë’s novel by enlarging the historical context of what she so vividly puts before us: a crazed woman from the West Indies, a brooding hero who went wrong in a tropical climate, a fanatical clergyman who wants to civilize the Indians?… asking these questions as O’Connor wishes us to do, can only enlarge our understanding of the Victorian novel, not diminish it” (682). David does a good job of searching through the passion of O’Connor’s article to find her point, and I like that she acknowledges the validity of her opinion. These are questions that should be asked. I believe that Brontë’s novel is “violated” only if it is read through one lens, with a disregard for any other potential ideas. Both Spivak and O’Connor sort of do this; Spivak through a strict post-colonial lens that ignores, even tries to compete in importance with a feminist lens, and O’Connor through a purely literary lens trying to ignore any possible theory. I think that an openness to all different lenses and readings, including post-colonial and purely literary, is the best as long as the reader is aware that their lens is not the only one that should be used. As David says, “Many of us have been drawn to Victorian studies because of it’s hospitality to theory, or rather theories, its capacious invitation for us to explore different perspectives- formal, Freudian, Marxian, feminist, and, yes, postcolonial” (683).

Jane Eyre and “Relations”

One of the elements of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eye that makes it so enjoyable to readers is the changing life circumstances of the main character, Jane, herself. In the beginning of the novel she is so unhappy, and so alone, tortured by her cousin and hated by her aunt. What makes it worse is she has no idea why. She is a child, only 9 years old, and this hatred and sorrow has been her entire life experience. While locked up in the Red Room she contemplates running away or even killing herself through not eating. Such unhappiness completely defines the character of Jane at the beginning of the novel.

That is why it is so satisfying to the reader to see the later contrast between Jane’s life at Thornfield Hall to that of her early experience. Such reader satisfaction is especially heightened after the passage in chapter 15. Jane contemplates Mr. Rochester and how, “The ease of his manner freed me from painful restraint; the friendly frankness, as correct as cordial, with which he treated me, drew me to him. I felt at times as if he were my relation rather than my master:” (152).  This newfound joy and content is pleasing to the reader, but what is interesting in this phrase in particular is the use of the word “relation”. As we know, Jane’s only living relations were horrible to her, and thus her only experience with “relations” is a negative one. It is interesting that she would be using the word here in such a positive connotation, trying to express the comfort she feels around Mr. Rochester. However, instead of being an association with blood relations, the use of this word could also be a subtle foreshadowing of her potential future with Mr. Rochester. We know they have a romantic connection and perhaps she is alluding to becoming his actual relation through marriage, aka becoming his wife. This prospect, though pleasing to the reader, is one that could face many challenges from the outside world, but a challenge it will not face is his treatment of her because he already treats her almost like a relation.

Mrs. Miller: the Real Culprit

Henry James’ novel Daisy Miller is hard for a reader to grasp at first. Not, in the usual way with 19th century novels, because it is over packed with plot and characters, drama and metaphors, but because on the onset this novel seems incredibly simple, even dull. It is true, that not much happens. Mr. Winterbourne visits his aunt, meets Daisy Miller and her family, falls for her, goes to visit her in Rome where she has found a new object of attention and this ultimately brings about her demise. The story is short, tragic, but ultimately leaves no real mark on the reader because no one really likes Daisy anyway. Having just finished the book I myself am still trying to dig for meaning in it all, because I refuse to believe that the novel is what it appears on the outside.

Thus finishing the novel, and after reading of Daisy’s death, I remembered the scene towards the beginning of the end of the story when Daisy and Winterbourne have just left Mrs. Walker’s house and Daisy is causing a scandal, as usual, in her intent to meet and accompany Mr. Giovanelli by herself. Suddenly, Mrs. Walker storms through in her carriage in an attempt to save Daisy from herself, and in speaking with Mr. Winterbourne describes the girl as “very reckless” but more importantly to the later events of the novel, says of this recklessness “and goodness knows how far- left to itself- it may go.”  This is not simply a, now, obvious foreshadowing of Daisy’s death, but a concrete fact. The way Daisy behaves is dangerous and inappropriate, but the reason she acts like this is because of her mother. Mrs. Walker touches on this fact also when she says “’Did you ever’, she proceeded to inquire, ‘see anything so blatantly imbecile as the mother?’” and then goes on to describe how she herself couldn’t sit around and let Daisy make such mistakes without attempting to stop her. Here in this scene, this acquaintance of Daisy, acts more in a motherly way than Daisy’s real mother does through the entire novel. It is true that occasionally Mrs. Miller will almost attempt to persuade Daisy to not do something, however in the end Daisy always does just what she likes. This is because Mrs. Miller is weak willed and lazy, and her character has effected Daisy’s own more than either of them could know.

The Singularity of Lucie Manette

In Charles Dickins’ A Tale of Two Cities, the character of Lucie Manette is a singularity. One of the few women characters, her role in the novel itself is vital for the advancement of the plot, however in the story she is nothing but a tool. This pattern is held through the novel. Lucie’s singularity and useful yet hollow character can be seen in many places, but particularly in the passage starting on page 94 and continuing on 95, when Lucie and Doctor Manette have just returned from a walk and she is being fussed over by Miss Pross and her father. Here, the passage is initially misleading because it seems as though she is the main object of the event, which is true, however it serves more to illustrate the characters of the people around her and how her presence has affected them and the novel rather than Lucie herself.

From Miss Pross’ affectionate fussing, to Doctor Manette’s fond remarks and Mr. Lorry’s contented observation of the whole affair, it is clear each of these reactions are prompted by their devotion to Lucie. Such devotion that is more an indication of their characters and her effects on them than a further insight into her character. We see more of Miss Pross’ nature in the fact that she would have “retire to her own chamber and cried” had Lucie meaningfully protested against the attention, than we do of Lucie’s nature in her compliance to Miss Pross. Similarly, when Doctor Manette comments on how Miss Pross spoils Lucie, despite himself doing the same, it gives more insight on his constitution, and consequently how it has improved from when the reader first met him, than it gives to Lucie’s character.  Though she may be the main figure in this passage, the insights provided are not about her.

Another way Lucie is used as a tool in this passage, as well as in the rest of the novel, is to provide a singularity in the form of a sharp contrast to the rest of the story. The atmosphere of this scene is pleasant, gentle and happy which contrasts sharply to the death, danger and despair in the rest of the novel. As seen in this passage, Lucie is a light in the dark world depicted in the story. She saves her father, “recalling him back to life”, and is the object of affection and desire for most of the characters so far. She is also one half of the marriage plot that propels the story forward. However, despite all this, she is portrayed as nothing but a pretty face and lovely disposition. While she is absolutely vital for the advancement of the novel, she herself gets no dimension.