This read-a-long is hosted by Unputdownables.
This post contains spoilers.
Week three’s reading finds the plot thickening. We are 14 chapters in and new characters are still constantly being introduced! I love the detail, but i kind of wish Chuck would get the ball rolling on the plot. Aside from a few events, most of the story has been made up of descriptions of people and their homes. I’m hoping this picks up a bit in the next section.
- I found Sir Leicester’s aversion to speaking of death rather troublesome. Of course, it isn’t a cheerful topic, nor one that people would want to discuss, but he acts as though he is better than death. In fact, Sir Leicester seems completely removed from the real world (which, given his attitudes toward his own importance, isn’t surprising).
- I was also intrigued by Chuck’s talk about Dandyism. This quote particularly caught my attention: “Who, in a mere lackadaisical want of an emotion, have agreed upon a little dandy talk about the Vulgar wanting faith in things in general; meaning, in the things that have been tried and found wanting, as though a low fellow should unaccountably lose faith in a bad shilling, after finding it out!” (p. 164). Now, I believe that this quote could be interpreted in two ways, the first “wanting” referring to wishing or to lacking. Given the context, I presume it refers to wishing, making the Vulgar (which I’m assuming means common people, though I haven’t researched it and this is again just based on context) somewhat foolish. I’m interested in everyone else’s thoughts on this! This whole section seems to be kind of stuck into the story. Is Chuck warning against having faith in things? It’s an interesting concept, and after thinking about it I realize that people do it all the time, believe in inanimate objects.
- I found the Boodle/Buffy section quite funny. Chuck’s humor is what gets me through these long, admittedly confusing passages. Love it!
- One of the things that I love most about this week’s reading is Chuck’s commentary (or Esther’s, rather) on education: “He had been eight years at a public school, and had learnt, I understood, to make Latin Verses of several sorts, in the most admirable manner. But I never heard that it had been anybody’s business to find out what his natural bent was, or where his failings lay, or to adapt any kind of knowledge to him. He had been adapted to the Verses, and had learnt the art of making them to such perfection, that if he had remained at school until he was of age, I suppose he could only have gone on making them over and over again, unless he had enlarged his education by forgetting how to do it. Still, although I had no doubt that they were very beautiful, and very improving, and very sufficient for a great many purposes of life, and always remembered all through life, I did doubt whether Richard would not have profited by some one studying him a little, instead of his studying them quite so much” (p. 171). Not only is this funny, it shows how little Richard knows of himself. Of course he has no idea what he wants to do in life, he doesn’t know his strengths or weaknesses! Given the rest of his character, though, I wonder if this lack of reflection is really the educational system’s fault or Richard’s own laziness. He seems to want to make money, but he doesn’t seem very committed to anything. He’s very… almost absent-minded? I can’t put my finger on it quite yet, but there’s something that doesn’t sit well with me about Richard. He reminds me too much of Mr. Skimpole, I think (where in the world did HE go?). I can see this being an educational issue, too.
- Also, with regard to Esther, I do like that Mr. Jarndyce finally seems to notice that she is an individual person, not just a caretaker. At the end of chapter 13 he warns her against becoming consumed in the lives of others.