It Was a Dark and Stormy Night…Kind of

At the time that Mr. Gilmore comes back to Limmeridge to meet with Mr. Fairlie to write up the marriage settlement, the weather helps to indicate the tone of the scene. This is quite typical, as weather is the easiest element of a scene to put a reader ‘in the mood,’ but it was particularly interesting the way that the weather and tone of this scene played out. During the night of Mr. Gilmore’s arrival, “The house was oppressively empty and dull…The wind howled dismally all night, and strange cracking and groaning noises sounded here, there, and everywhere in the empty house” (Collins 156-7). However, what was both interesting and revealing was that the servants and other workers of the house matched the tone of the weather. They “were so surprised at seeing [Mr. Gilmore] that they hurried and bustled absurdly and made all sorts of annoying mistakes. Even the butler, who was old enough to have known better, brought [him] a bottle of port that was chilled” (Collins 156-7). Without a doubt, this section of writing set the tone for the rest of Mr. Gilmore’s narrative—he goes on to write away all of Miss Fairlie’s money and property in her marriage settlement, leaving a dark cloud over both Miss Fairlie and Miss Halcombe. However, this small piece of writing also marked a turning point in the entire novel. It created the feeling that nothing will ever be the same as it was before. Mr. Hartright is gone, Miss Fairlie’s money is about to be taken away from her (and given to Sir Percival Glyde, of all people), and a potential relationship between two budding young lovers has been lost. The servants, unable to perform their duties, represent Mr. Gilmore—who is about to be unable to perform his own for the young women—and the weather, hanging over the house threateningly, represents Sir Percival, who seems like he is about to come in and tear through the family when they least expect it.

2 thoughts on “It Was a Dark and Stormy Night…Kind of”

  1. I agree, but I would also argue that there is a sense of unrest throughout the entire novel so far. We talked last class about the Gothic and uncanny and how something just feels off and there is a sense of unrest through out the novel. When Anne Catherick first shows up and has that very strange conversation with Mr. Hartright which was very off-putting to read, there is a sense of absurdity because the situation and conversation are so awkward. Then, we find out that she escaped from an asylum which adds to the sense of unrest because now the stakes have been significantly raised.

  2. The descriptions of the “dark and stormy night” are very much prominent in this novel, no? I think this is a great example of the Gothic concept of the uncanny. The weather isn’t quite normal and neither is the behavior of the servants, as per your reading. Something is off and it adds to the dread and suspense of the novel. This is seen throughout the book, thus making it a sensation novel.

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