George’s Mental Collapse

Quote: “ ‘but a feeling has come over me since my wife’s death, that I am like a man standing upon a long low shore, with hideous cliffs frowning down upon him from behind, and the rising tide crawling slowly but surely about his feet. It seems to grow nearer and nearer every day, that black, pitiless tide; not rushing upon me with a great noise and a mighty impetus, but crawling, creeping, stealing, gliding towards me, read to close in above my head when I am least prepared for the end.’ (Braddon 65).

This passage consists of George describing his current mental state to Robert. Before George’s disappearance, he almost predicted its coming. George, following his return from Australia to find Helen gone, returns to a place that is completely unfamiliar, despite being the exact same location. On his return from Australia, he felt complete, he felt like he truly accomplished something by becoming a wealthy man, but he did that just to find his life collapsed as he left, and I believe that broke George, because he learned that he cannot control everything in his life, which I believe leads into his thoughts of the tide slowly rising to kill him, and he cannot change that either. The language in this passage comes from a man that is sleepwalking his way into death, and that language defines the passage to me. Words such as “creeping” and “gliding” really demonstrate how his death is set in motion, and he cannot walk away, because he feels he has nothing to walk towards. He mentions his lack of love for poetry, but then follows that with his incredible comparison of his death coming to him in the form of a rising tide, sounding like a truly disturbed poet. In the novel, I believe this quote serves an interesting place, as it demonstrates that George almost knew his life was ending, he just did not know when that end would take place. It is interesting that he talked so openly about his life ending, and while doing so he put himself in the place where his life would end with the people who would take his life, and I believe that is an eerie coincidence. Additionally, I believe this passage truly shows the importance of loved ones in this novel, because Robert follows this quote by shoving it off for the cigars George has been smoking, but following George’s disappearance, Robert then realizes George’s importance in his own life, and that sets Robert down a path that changes his life and his personality, making him notice more important details in life, and notice people’s personality more rather than living life without a care. Beyond the foreshadowing of George’s death, and his manifestation of his own death, I believe this passage demonstrates how important a partner is in enabling someone to live a more fulfilled life and give them purpose in their life.

One thought on “George’s Mental Collapse”

  1. I agree, I think the novel verbalized the pains of losing a loved one well and in a realistic way.
    I also wonder if part of this terrible mental collapse George had was because of his guilt! We know that from LA’s perspective that George was not a good husband or father to their children because he had left to go to another country for three years. Although he had gone for work, maybe he also realized that it was not worth it, further adding to his guilt and pain. I am sure there are many thoughts that went through his head and it is interesting to see how the text mainly described his pain and not the thoughts he was thinking.

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