Monday, February 23, 2009

You're revealing your love for me

Current book: The French Lieutenant's Woman
Pages read: 111-141

This section consisted entirely of Sarah telling Charles the story of her tryst with the French lieutenant, who, we've finally learned, is named Varguennes. (Which I'm not sure, in the end, is actually easier to type than "the French lieutenant." Dammit.) Anyway, it turns out that she knew, before she gave herself to him, ah, bodily, that he wasn't going to stay with her or come back to her. But, she says, she chose to do it anyway so that she could...distinguish herself, for lack of a better word...from every other Victorian woman. She asserts that she chose her shame, and it is her shame that allows her a certain amount of freedom. In a way, she chose to sexually emancipate herself by purposefully throwing away that value which is the primary one of all Victorian woman, but one that exists in a space without power - chastity. So now that she has garnered the ultimate shame for herself, she has also been released from the demands of society, albeit in a negative way.

(Oh, I forgot to note that we also witnessed Charles meeting the local Irish doctor, discussing Sarah's case with him, and simultaneously discovering that he's a fellow Darwinist. There was a lot of brandy and back-slapping. I don't know if it's important, but it might come up later.)

After she completes her confession, Charles convinces her to take him up on his offer of charity and move away from Lyme Regis, where she can "start her life anew," and escape her reputation. She agrees, but she seems unconvinced that her original choice was the wrong one, and I'm doubtful that she's going to go through with it. Also, at the risk of sounding like a seventh-grader, Charles totally likes Sarah, OMG! (How could he not? She's mysterious, tarnished, and forbidden. I mean, really. It's like the Victorian version of a giant shiny red button that says "Don't Push.")

I can't decide if I admire Sarah or John Fowles more for the intricate bravery of this scenario. I'm blown away, again and again and again, by how compelling this story is. There's not, in fact, a character I don't like. I know I'm raving. What can I say? It's worth the rave.

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