“The merry party was so much absorbed in its own merriment as to be deaf to all commonplace summonses from the outer world; and it was only when Robert, advancing further into the cavernous little shop, made so bold as to open the half-glass door which separated him from the merry-makers, that he succeeded in obtaining their attention” – (Braddon, Ch 19).
When reading this passage, the sarcastic nature and the redundancy of the word “merry” stood out the most to me. Merry suggests a happy situation and these people in particular were noted to be merry a total of three times, though this merriment seems to be perceived as a negative attribute rather than a positive state of being. This passage is also in response to Robert greeting a group of people in the shop, and much to his dismay, the party ignoring him entirely. The passage itself is relatively straightforward to understand, yet it reveals something notably deeper. This passage in and of itself is a binary. We have the juxtaposition of merry people gathered together, versus a very isolated, and what appears to be uncomfortable Robert. The repetition of the word, “merry” and “merriment” is then used to solidify this binary, as a tool to emphasize Robert’s frustration, almost as if he is becoming increasingly more frustrated with his fellow characters with each time the word is used. This section further reveals a potential insight into who the narrator of our novel is. The narrator’s voice, in the increasing frustration of the word “merry”, becomes reflective of Robert’s feelings, therefore alluding to Robert and our narrator having the same mind, opinions, and maybe even personage. In its relevance and relation to the novel as a whole, this passage is reflective of Robert as a character, and his continual failings when delving into investigative matters of his fellow characters.