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"The Agency" Lecture Notes - themes on midterm exam

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Colette Colligan

ENGL101 - Lecture 6 *Questions for Y.S. Lee - have them ready for next class (Skype chat with the author) Start to read ahead: “The History of Mary Prince” - will be posted on canvas - READ AHEAD The Agency ● What-if scenarios ● Are you pro or against historical fiction? ○ Give arguments for why/why not ● Setting of The Agency ○ The Great Stink - very deliberate use of this event in The Agency ● James and Mary on their way to East London ○ “They detoured north instead of crossing the river directly onto the Isle of Dogs. He [James] stepped n a seedy alley in Holborn where he jumped down from the carriage, held a muttered conference with a dirty, one-eyes old woman, and climbed back in…” (166) ○ “The Imperial Baptist East London Refuge for Destitute Asiatic Sailors was located in the Limehouse, near the East india Hospital. Composed of two grimy redbrick terraced houses knocked together, it was identified by a large, tarnished brass nameplate on the front door, next to a similarly neglected bell” (168). ● Map of London 1862: ● Map of the key locations around which the plot unfolds: ○ Everything is centered around the river ● 4 major plot lines (quadrilateral) ○ Detective plot ○ Mary’s search for origins subplot ○ Mrs. Thorold piracy plot ○ Angelica’s marriage plot - why does this plot take place so far away from the center of the action (away from the river)? ● Thames River, London - major plot lines take place along the river ○ Action generally moves between West and East ● Critical Reading ○ The presence of the river Thames is never far away from consciousness when reading the book “How do you do it?” he mumbled through layers of linen “Do what?” “Live at Cheyne Walk. All the Thorolds.” Mary considered. “Well, Miss Thorold doesn’t care for it. Mr. Thorold says the river made his fortune, so he’s loyal to it. And Mrs. Thorold seems unaffected by the stench.
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