Eeks–I’m behind! I was supposed to read through Chapter 27 for today, but I’m only on Chapter 20. Good thing I have the Bout of Books Read-a-thon to motivate me this week. Gotta catch up!!
Here are the second week’s discussion questions:
1. What do you think of Margaret aiding her mother in keeping Mrs. Hale’s illness from her father?
I found this really disturbing, but I guess it’s just another example of how different male-female relationships were in the Victorian period. Each spouse has a role to play in the marriage, and even if they love one another there doesn’t seem to be a lot of emotional intimacy between them. Just as Mr. Hale tries to protect his wife by not telling her about their impending move to Milton, so Mrs. Hale is trying to soften the blow of her health condition by not telling her husband about it. Margaret seems to think this is a good idea, so either they both view Mr. Hale as being too weak to handle the truth or perhaps her condition is a “woman’s thing” that they feel is best kept to themselves. It was a pretty prudish time, so there could have been a taboo about certain health problems and diseases.
I either haven’t gotten to this part yet or I don’t remember it, but it seems to me that if Margaret sees Mr. Thornton as a “study” that she is trying to remain detached from him, to not become emotionally involved. That might imply that she fears the possibility of developing feelings for him–or else that she already is feelng something! Maybe she is trying to take his measure as an industrialist in order to better understand the way this unfamiliar society works, and she doesn’t want to let her personal opinion of the man affect her judgement.
3. Last week, Heather touched on Margaret’s lack of tact. What do you think of her tact? How is it lacking? Or would you argue that it isn’t lacking at all?
I don’t think she is tactless so much as unable to speak anything but the truth as she sees it. She is an unfailing honest person, to the point that she says things that she probably shouldn’t in situations that would be better smoothed over with a few polite (if false) words.
4. Anything else you want to discuss?
I mentioned on Twitter the other day that Mr. Hale at one point (I think it’s in chapter 14 or 15) gives some very modern-sounding advice about raising teenagers. He says something to the effect that when they reach that age, parenting becomes less about telling them what to do and more about being their confidant so that they will look to you for advice as they get older. I thought that was pretty sound for an old intellectual!