In the beginning, Wharton paints (through the narrator) Culwin to be a sort of arrogant fellow, one who wouldn't "jump on stage and do a 'turn'," and thought women were only good for doing the cooking. It seems even those who were his companions found him boring, comparing him to sticks.
For how arrogant they seem to perceive him, in telling his story Culwin seems very quick to speak of his own faults. Or at least ones in the past, and implying - rather, as he does referring to engaging Alice being a turn to the good, for him. He says it's the first good thing he'd done, and it's a bit foreign to him.
I find it interesting that Wharton describes the eyes as having lids and all, but not attached to anyone. They are just eyes...very spooky! Great imagery, on pg 200. I didn't expect the eyes to reappear, as in typical ghost stories now (i.e. films), the first encounter would be separated from the next; he'd have gone to sleep after that, and seen them again another time.
Again, I get a little bothered with things that seem to only puff up the story, and not really add to it. The whole bit describing Noyes - maybe I'm just far too picky a reader, but it doesn't do much for the ghost story. He goes so long without seeing the eyes...and then Alice sends her handsome, charming, literature-stupid cousin to Culwin. Granted, I appreciate Wharton's harshness with describing his level of stupidity ("...what had put into that radiant head the detestable delusion that it held a brain"). Still, I can't help but feel it's two stories being mashed together. I feel this way on 204, so maybe she yet has time to tie it together, but I get the feeling that won't exactly happen.
Culwin at this point seems to be a people-pleaser, but really for the wrong reasons - not because as he says "making people happy has its charms," but because it's easier for him to avoid the situation. I wonder if this selfishness of promising something he can't fulfil or put his full heart behind will bring on the Eyes again.
Sure enough! I find it interesting, because I read it as him being selfish, and delusional to think that he really is aiding anyone but himself, in his actions and so I think that is what brings on the eyes. So it's even funnier on 208, when he says Gilbert's now being happy is a coincidence that makes Culwin almost hate him. When in fact, the way I read it, it's Culwin's fault!
Interesting way to end, sort of classic it seems in Wharton and James' time to have someone die of mysterious fright at the end. I guess I liked this story, as the ghost stories go. I still think the lot of that about Gilbert was sort of fluff, but otherwise I enjoyed this one.
This is an interesting little story. So far I like it, maybe partial to the romantic types of things.
The paragraph on page 221, at the beginning of the chapter wreaks of innuendo. Or maybe, rather to give Wharton her credit, it's creatively stating the consummation of their relationship before he leaves. One can only wonder, this shallow into the story what will become of him on his journey? May this time lead to a pregnancy?
I was wrong, it didn't lead to a pregnancy, but he does go to America and stop writing to her. She decides to call things quits with him, over letters and pretend like she foolishly misunderstood his very forward sentiments.
I began this story thinking it was about Lizzie AND Mr Deering, but really it's her story.
In longer pieces like this, Wharton's writing style becomes burdensome for me. But that's for me. She packs so much in! Compared to James' style of ambiguous long clauses strung together by commas, she packs a lot of more direct, specific info in. It becomes a bit overwhelming to me.
I honestly didn't expect to ever hear of Mr. Deering again! Especially after three years, which I'm sure was Lizzie's sentiment exactly.
I had this sense that Mr. Benn was gonna be important for some reason, but i guess I didn't gather that Lizzie was going to marry him. But maybe that's because it's not decided, but rather she divined it to stick it to Mr. Deering for never writing back.
It seems even though in the reunion that Lizzie thinks her "loosing her demons" will hurt Vincent, it won't because there is some eerie calmness to him in their dialogue. Like he knows some aspect she doesn't, maybe that he planned to see if she'd still love him after all this time - cruel as that'd be.
That last paragraph, rather the last sentence of chapter 6 is beautiful! "But she felt her whole will gathered up in teh irrepressible impulse to repudiate and fling away from her forever the spectral claim of Mr. Jackson Benn." It's like this thing that's on her, and she balls it up and throws it away from herself in a fit; a figurative one that consists of words denying her engagement.
It seems to me, at the very end that Lizzie decides to stay with him, and not to make anything out of it (his not reading her letters, and lying about it). In a way, I find that disappointing, because then the whole story comes full circle in this twisted way, and I feel like...what did I just spend my time on? But I guess that frustration arises from the way someone in that situation would feel, in which case: well played, Wharton, well played.