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All right, so, Charity Royall...

What an interesting character. She's isolated/ignorant of the rest of the world but she's aware of it. One of her first thoughts that were exposed to touches on this notion, "What, she wondered, did North Dormer look like to people from other parts of the world?" (358). This is followed by an account of her first real trip outside of home, to Nettleton, which we can presume is not that big of town. But to Charity it offers her her first taste of the hustle and bustle of city life. It's her first glimpse of the wide, wondrous world she's only able to contemplate and speculate from her semi-reclusive life in North Dormer. Upon seeing Harney, a stranger from presumably afar, she erupts in a desolate despair as she shouts for the second time, "How I hate everything!" (360). Upon meeting Harney for the first time, in the library, this distinction between her little world and the rest of the world is heightened as she can hardly communicate with the strange man, "Her bewilderment was complete: the more she wished to appear to understand him the more unintelligible his remarks became" (362). Yet despite, or rather because of her ignorance and isolation she naturally radiates a simple, humble, organic, beautiful charm. I think Wharton uses her attachment to nature to evoke this charm, "On such an afternoon Charity Royall lay on a ridge above a sunlit hollow, her face pressed to the earth and the warm currents of the grass running through her" (380). Not only is she outdoors but the natural beauty is running through her.

I've tried, from many angles, to analyze her relationship with Mr. Royall but I'm always lead back to the most rudimentary analysis. Their relationship, initially, was fine; not close, not great, just fine. Initially she felt an inkling of debt was owed by her to him, perhaps for saving her from the mountain or for taking care of her. It was because of this and her fear of his loneliness that she refused to escape North Dormer and go to school when she had the chance. But then, in a drunken slip of morals, Mr. Royall crossed the line--ironically a direct product of the loneliness she had hoped to prevent in her staying, "'I don't want the key. I'm a lonesome man" (368). From this moment on she regrets her decision to stay, feels absolutely nothing for him any more, no sense of debt or remorse or compassion. She shows it through conscious acts of defiance and rebellion. She gets the job to save money to leave. She doesn't tell him where she goes. She demands a new housemaid. I think her sense of isolation and despair is amplified by the fact that she had a chance to leave, chose to stay, and now regrets that choice.

And on to Lucius Harney...

I'm going to be frank: 65 pages in-I don't think she truly loves him. I don't think they're going to live happily ever after. I think that Harney evokes that sort of mystery of the outside world in her. It's exemplified right away before she even met him. The feelings he stirs up in her, even from afar, are that of a heightened sense of her entrapment from the rest of the world (I mentioned them in the first paragraph). To jump way ahead, when they go to Nettleton for the 4th of July she doesn't fully understand him, "The illusion was increased by their being served by a deep-bosomed woman with smooth hair and a pleasant laugh, who talked to Harney in unintelligible words, and seemed amazed and overjoyed at his answering her in kind" (421). There's a definitive gap between the world that Harney is capable of living in and understanding and the world that Charity just cannot escape. I think that part of my negative outlook on the future of their relationship is because I've just been waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting for either of them to say one fucking definitive thing about their relationship. It's forever indistinct. I thought that when she, quite creepily, watched him through his window that she would eventually jump through and proclaim her love. But no. I thought that when he came back to say goodbye that he would profess his love or ask her to come with or something. But no. I thought when he left her the note to meet him at the Creston Pool that, finally, he would man up and drop the "L" word. But no, Wharton doesn't even invite us in on that scene. In the midst of this indistinctness, Charity's feelings about the situation are constantly changing, at the drop of a hat. One moment she's lying on her bed hating everything, the next she's glimmering in pure infatuation, and the next she's find an odd sort of solace in her misery, "She seemed to be floating high over life, on a great cloud of misery beneath which everyday realities had dwindled to mere specks in space" (407). And to top it all off she's passively stubborn, to a ridiculous degree. She's at the window of her first and only lover! She sees him packing and understands that he's leaving! And what does she do? She runs away asserting, "If he wanted her he must seek her" (406).

Ughh, I guess we'll see what happens.

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This page contains a single entry by haala034 published on November 7, 2011 9:57 PM.

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