Paul explains that for a man of faith, there is some consolation for their hardships. There is a sense
that the Bentleys are not Christian, as they believe God is dead, so must feel that sense of nothingness
alone. (“God is dead”-Nietzsche).
Early 20thC, Realism was the main movement – best way to construct a nation. During this period, the
main movement was Modernism (The Wasteland). Certain Realist texts, like “As”, subtly incorporated
Modernist elements, the sense of existential nothingness (even clearer in The Double Hook)
B) Agent of Inspiration
Nature is an agent of inspiration to those willing to access it. A mirror of Mrs. Bentley`s own
suppressed vitality. She wouldn`t go walking so often if she didn`t realize that the environment is
rejuvenating, but becomes demonic because she suppresses that vitality both within and out, and
turns on it. Towards the end, she feels her fingers become more wooden, etc., because she denies her
Judith West doesn`t deny its vitality (she watches trains, a symbol of future opportunities, and hope).
Her desire for something groups her with the Bentley`s. She is also an artist, and is very similar to
Philip – very private. `Wind in her hair” image shows her affinity to nature.
(P51) “I found it hard myself to believe in the town outside, houses, streets, and solid earth. Mile after
mile the wind poured by, and we were immersed and lost in it. I sat breathing from my throat, my
muscles tense. To relax, I felt, would be to let the walls around me crumple in.”
Judith is the only one who doesn’t shrink away from the wind, presenting her with a life-giving force,
i.e. her music.
Maybe our response to nature is conditioned by how we first approach it.
-Nature is presented as being very different things in this novel.
2. Mrs. Bentley and Her Narrative
A) Roy Daniels: Mrs. Bentley as “Pure Gold”
Mrs. Bentley is an unreliable narrator, and a little paranoid. Roy Daniels initially wrote that Mrs.
Bentley was “pure gold”, and “wholly credible”, but this view changed, and she was undermined as
being unreliable and manipulative.
She describes herself in a much better light than she deserves (pious, good woman), however, there are
marked contradictions in what the character says and does.
B) Mrs. Bentley as Unreliable and Manipulative (Wilfred Cude)
i) Inconsistencies in depictions of herself: Mrs. Bentley’s relationship with Paul
In references to Paul, she never forgets her proprieties – never the sense that there is flirtation, but a
sense of evasiveness. Philip does see something in her relationship with Paul. We find it difficult to
accept that their relationship is innocently platonic, but there is plenty of evidence that Paul loves
Mrs. Bentley, by doing things against his own nature, appearing a little foolish (dancing, strawberries)
(P101) “You learn a lot from a philologist. Cupid, he says, has given us cupidity, Eros, erotic, Venus,
venereal, and Aphrodite, aphrodisiac.”
Mrs. Bentley tries to make Philip jealous, e.g. dancing w/ the cowboy. She is capable of social
indiscretion, even if she doesn’t realize it, and presents herself as a pious and rightful woman.