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Wives & Daughters > Chapters 34-40

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message 1: by Trudy (new)

Trudy Brasure | 442 comments Mod
For discussion of chapters 34 through 40.


message 2: by QNPoohBear (last edited May 04, 2015 09:52AM) (new)

QNPoohBear | 315 comments I'm still reading but I wanted to comment and say I feel more kindly disposed towards Hyacinth now. She's not very bright and she doesn't seem to understand what she's doing and why it's not morally correct. She doesn't understand anyone else's moral codes or the high standards her husband sets for himself and his family. I wonder what her back story is? It hasn't appeared yet so I'm guessing there isn't one but my guess it she was orphaned young and had a limited education and poor upbringing. How she got to be a governess for an aristocratic family though, I can't guess.

The scene (view spoiler) was so well done. The dialogue was incredible and it felt very real. The chapters are flying by without seeming like I've read 600 pages already.


message 3: by Trudy (new)

Trudy Brasure | 442 comments Mod
That's a definite sign of a good book, isn't it? Even if it's lengthy, you're enjoying every page. It's not a slog, but pure enjoyment. That's how I feel about this book. I get engrossed in the characters and the whole story. Gaskell is good in letting you experience what's going on with the main characters. You feel like you're there.


message 4: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 315 comments Trudy I am enjoying it. I downloaded it to my computer so I wouldn't be intimidated by the length. I checked to see if the subscription library had old copies in volumes but they moved all their really old books to special collections. The only one they had was 713 pages and I didn't feel like carrying it home.


message 5: by Trudy (last edited May 05, 2015 01:37PM) (new)

Trudy Brasure | 442 comments Mod
The altercation between the newly-married Gibsons reveals the gaping disparity in their sense of integrity. Hyacinth still doesn't comprehend how repulsed her husband is by her behavior.

I was particularly struck by how completely different their assessments of Roger are. "A clumsier, more common, awkward, stupid fellow I never saw" vs. "as fine a young fellow as ever breathed ... I have never known a truer or warmer heart than Roger's."

The judgement of a young man couldn't be more divided. Mrs. Gibson really doesn't like him at all. Maybe because he is so unlike her (and, of course, he isn't fashionable in manners or looks - unforgivable!).


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 123 comments QNPoohBear wrote: "I'm still reading but I wanted to comment and say I feel more kindly disposed towards Hyacinth now. She's not very bright and she doesn't seem to understand what she's doing and why it's not morall..."

Would you like to say why you are kindly disposed toward Hyacinth. I certainly won't dispute yr opinion. But I'd like to know what is and if you have found any good in Hyacinthe.

I'm not feeling that way at all except to wonder with the poor quality of her morals and her stupidity, how she was ever entrusted by people like the Cumnor's to educate their daughters. I can see her running a school for daughters of people who themselves are not well educated and don't know any better.


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 123 comments Trudy wrote: "That's a definite sign of a good book, isn't it? Even if it's lengthy, you're enjoying every page. It's not a slog, but pure enjoyment. That's how I feel about this book. I get engrossed in the cha..."

Trudy I'm loving this book and your moderating! It's so engaging I barely notice how long it is!


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 123 comments Trudy wrote: "The altercation between the newly-married Gibsons reveals the gaping disparity in their sense of integrity. Hyacinth still doesn't comprehend how repulsed her husband is by her behavior.

I was par..."


Mr. Gibson is just disgusted with his wife.

The sad part is, Hyacinth can't even apologize, ask for forgiveness for what she doesn't understand.

I'm struck by what a tender heart Molly has. Earlier, she had hoped that her father would become wise to how bad Hyacinth is, but now that he has, she feels bad about the discord between husband and wife.


message 9: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 315 comments Andrea (Catsos Person) wrote: "Would you like to say why you are kindly disposed toward Hyacinth. I certainly won't dispute yr opinion. But I'd like to know what is and if you have found any good in Hyacinth"

Because Gaskell has the narrator spell out for us that Hyacinth isn't that quick in her understanding. I don't approve of her morals or methods but I think she doesn't know any better. I think she's like Harriet Smith in Emma. She's not too bright, has a bit of an education but not a first rate one and has had to make her own way in the world. Except Harriet is sweet where Hyacinth is cunning. I can't find the exact passage I noted but this might be it:

(view spoiler)

This passage is very interesting and shows the weighty questions this novel deals with Ch. XXXIV
(view spoiler)


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 123 comments QNPB, I think you are right in your Harriet Smith comparison and Btw, I just completed my 3rd read of Emma yesterday, Ha!

HS is a nice and harmless little person, but Harriet pulls off classy behavior with aplomb or perhaps behavior that would be characterized as "well-bred" where aside from the symbol (eating the main meal of the day at 6 pm like the Cumnors) she (Hyacinthe) has no substance to what she feels is "classy" behavior. She just emulates her "betters" like an automaton with no understanding.

Hyacinth is Completely dead to the things that make us human such as empathy or sympathy for others, such as any appreciation why Molly's bedroom furnishings were so important to her or the need for love from her own child and view of her daughter as a "competitor" and rival.

Would Gibson really speak sarcastically to his wife after becoming disgusted with the eavesdropping incident if he thought that she could understand and be hurt by it? I think he is just venting his frustration. No harm done. Luckily Hyacinth is to insensitive herself to really feel any pain when sarcasm is directed toward her.

I had to laugh when Gibson was discussing what a first rate young man Roger is within the context of the "not engagement" and Cynthia expressed that she should be valued highly because Roger does and Gibson does not affirm this. Illogical. I had credited Cynthia with better sense than this.


message 11: by Trudy (new)

Trudy Brasure | 442 comments Mod
Cynthia craves attention and praise. It's her substitute for the love she never got growing up. That Mr Gibson doesn't give it this instance is a point for him.


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 123 comments Trudy wrote: "Cynthia craves attention and praise. It's her substitute for the love she never got growing up. That Mr Gibson doesn't give it this instance is a point for him."

I think you are right that Cynthia craves attention and praise from others. I think that she needs it to fill a void where she has never received loving attention from her parents due her father's death and her mother's neglect.

I guess Gibson does not want to give paise where he sees no reason for it or In his view, where it is unmerited.


message 13: by Trudy (new)

Trudy Brasure | 442 comments Mod
Yes, exactly. He's a man of few words and he doesn't play games or make pretensions. Although he likes Cynthia, I think he can see that she is not equal to Roger in many qualities. Pretty and pleasing is hardly the same as the genuine depth of all that Roger feels and thinks.
Molly also feels this disparity, and it's hurting her to see Roger paired with someone who doesn't return his affection and sincerity in equal measure.


message 14: by Andrea AKA Catsos Person (last edited May 17, 2015 08:42AM) (new)

Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 123 comments Exactly, Trudy. :)

I think you summed up Gibson as a man of few words. And I would add meaning not given to harmless, meaningless though insincere chatter of the sort where he would have given praise in that instance where Cynthia craved it.

Cynthia certainly does hold the highly regarded Roger as cheap in value.

The Squire is taking this "not engagement" better than I could have expected and has some keen observations about Cynthia despite his admiration for her beauty and pretty ways. I think that he sees all of this for what it is, surface matter and not indication of a character that he would like.


message 15: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 315 comments Trudy wrote: "Yes, exactly. He's a man of few words and he doesn't play games or make pretensions. Although he likes Cynthia, I think he can see that she is not equal to Roger in many qualities. Pretty and pleas..."

I agree but he's also being a but unnecessarily cruel to her just because of her mother's lack of morals.

Hyacinth does ape her betters without any understanding of what makes one aristocratic. I don't think she's capable of understanding that she's going about things all wrong or that she has almost 0 moral code when it comes to ambition. She's selfish and I think her brain capacity is limited to thinking about herself and only about herself and by extension sometimes about her daughter or what her daughter can do for her. In that respect I feel somewhat bad for her that she just doesn't get it. I'd probably feel like slapping her if I were Molly. I like that Molly is starting to crack under the strain.

Squire Hamley is taking the news of Roger's so-called understanding with Cynthia OK because he only sees the face value of her and because it's not Osborne.

Speaking of Osborne is he really ill or is he just depressed? The miniseries took a distinct interpretation but the book is more unclear much like Mrs. Hale in North & South. Osborne is not being a good husband for poor Aimee in his present state.


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 123 comments Why is Osbourne cooling his heels at Hamley instead of staying with Aimee since Roger is supplying monies for his brother and sister in law's financial needs?

I don't know if Osbourne really is ailing or if he is "just" depressed as QNPB mentions.

At any rate, money is not a problem, why isn't he with his wife? I feel sorry the poor girl with an inattentive and irresponsible man like Osbourne for a husband.


message 17: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 315 comments I think the Hamleys sort of set Osborne up for not being like his father by sending him to University and giving him money to allow him to live like a gentleman when really all he is is a country squire's heir. Osborne took it for granted that he could act like a gentleman and didn't give much thought to his future. He got lazy and now he's in a mess. He's just as stubborn as his father and now it's all affecting the household and his health.

I think Osborne is depressed and he doesn't know what to do. He wants to please his father by sticking around and he wants to be with Aimee. He's being stubborn and stupid either way. I don't think the Squire would actually disown Osborne though I would worry the Squire would have a heart attack at the news. Osborne screwed up royally and he's making things worse by moping around. Squire Hamley is such an active and uncomplicated man that he doesn't understand Osborne. Gaskell is tackling some weighty issues here and I'm eager to see how it all plays out since it's rather different from the miniseries
(view spoiler)

I think maybe while stepmother and Cynthia are away Molly should have told her father who could have tried to help mediate the situation. Keeping such a big secret when a woman and child are involved is probably not a good idea. If it was gambling debts or a prostitute blackmailing him for money or something that would be a different story.


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 123 comments QNPoohBear wrote: "I think the Hamleys sort of set Osborne up for not being like his father by sending him to University and giving him money to allow him to live like a gentleman when really all he is is a country s..."

But I still don't understand Osbourne's motive for hanging round in the house with his father when with Roger's money, he could at least live with Amee for most of the time.


message 19: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 315 comments Andrea (Catsos Person) wrote: "QNPoohBear wrote: "I think the Hamleys sort of set Osborne up for not being like his father by sending him to University and giving him money to allow him to live like a gentleman when really all h..."

Inertia due to his illness whether depression or otherwise? wanting to please his father but being too stubborn to admit it? He can't leave his father alone yet Aimee is alone too. He's stuck but I am liking him less and less as the story goes on.


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 123 comments I'm not liking Osbourne all that much either.

I'm wondering if Cynthia is adamant about keeping her "agreement" with Roger as such a secret so that she is a) free to find someone better or b) there are some sort of reasons that Preston can't know about it.


message 21: by Trudy (new)

Trudy Brasure | 442 comments Mod
Osborne is certainly depressed in the sense of feeling trapped by his secret and his fathers' adamant expectations. However, Mr Gibson is convinced Osborne has a heart defect of some kind. This may play into his overall health as well.
Osborne didn't play his cards well, but I put the harshest blame on the squire's traditional and stubborn insistence on propping up his family honor with a 'profitable' marriage for his son. I don't think Gaskell could be any clearer on how much misery is produced by the pride and thoughtlessness in strictly outlining the future and prospects of the first-born. What a burden the son (or daughter) carries! It seems ultimately unloving and throws away all possibility of individual growth and expression. They have no freedom.


message 22: by Andrea AKA Catsos Person (last edited May 17, 2015 08:48AM) (new)

Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 123 comments Trudy, it seems to me that the Squire is looking to replenish low or empty family finances in addition to propping up family honor with a prestigious marriage.

However, even if the Squire were not so adamantly rigid in his marital hopes for Osbourne, I can't see a man in Squire position meaning to welcome a daughter in law from the lowly servant classes.

The Squire also told Gibson at the time the Doctor promised to let the Squire know if there was a romance afoot that his property had debt against it. I think Mr Hamley said something like "it is not free."

I'm sorry that since I am reading eBook I can't easily return to the page where this was said.


message 23: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 315 comments I feel for Osborne. Being the oldest in my family, I am sure all that expectation would be heaped on my head. I thought Osborne might have Congestive Heart Failure. His lungs were mentioned as well, I think. I'm sure is depression is making him feel worse. I think the Squire would rant and rave for awhile and if I were Osborne I would go away back to Aimee until my father calmed down. Osborne is the oldest son and eventually, the stubborn squire would want his son home to run the farm. I think Squire Hamley would eventually relent because Osborne is THE HEIR and THE HEIR can do no wrong.

Andrea (Catsos Person) I think the Squire borrowed money for the farm and Roger's stipend helped pay off the loan and is supposed to save the farm.


message 24: by Louise Sparrow (last edited May 17, 2015 01:16PM) (new)

Louise Sparrow (louisex) | 157 comments Chapter 34 - 38

It says a lot for Molly’s character that she can see Hyacinth’s defects without being drawn in to behaving in the same way. It’s perhaps fortunate that her character was pretty much formed before her father re-married.

The difference in behaviour between Cynthia and Molly in respect to Roger is very marked. Cynthia clearly doesn’t love him and it’s painful to see the effect it has on poor Molly.

Mr Gibson can no longer blind himself where his wife is concerned, however much he may wish too. Their discussion of Osborne’s health is so cleverly written, it shows his anger and her uncomprehending guilt as she slides from one position to another, trying to put herself in the right while never really knowing why she was in the wrong.

This has to be my favourite quote from these chapters, as I’ve said before I love these little flashes of humour that are almost asides if you’re not paying attention; Squire Hamley to Mr Gibson: “Madam your wife and I did not hit it off the only time I ever saw her. I won’t say she was silly, but I think one of us was silly, and it was not me.

In North and South there’s a series of events that make a section of the book depressing if you’re inclined to think of it that way. The events in Wives and Daughters are not (with one or two exceptions) quite so drastic, however each chapter has an example of some little occurrences that are so sad you can see why the principles would be slowly pulled down by them.


message 25: by Louise Sparrow (new)

Louise Sparrow (louisex) | 157 comments Chapter 39 - 40

What a shame it is that Cynthia has the intelligence her mother lacks and can see her own deficiencies, but not the strength of character to correct them.

Molly and Mr Gibson are left alone to please themselves for a week and what a difference it makes to them!

The Miss Brownings at the end of this section do not seem such great friends towards Molly as they make out, too fond of gossip, and the elder Miss Browning should not be leaping to conclusions where Molly is concerned, you would think she’d know her better!


message 26: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 315 comments I like the Miss Brownings. They mean well. They're rather shallow women and lonely spinsters. Village gossip is their soap opera. They don't really know Molly all that well though, do they? They knew her mother and take tea with Molly but how well can they actually KNOW her? Her own father believed the gossip! He didn't want it to be true but he couldn't ignore the evidence. The only person in the novel who "gets" Molly is Lady Harriet. They're complete opposites but Lady Harriet is quite astute and observes Molly's behavior rather than rely on gossip and second hand information.


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