The Readers Review: Literature from 1714 to 1910 discussion

2010/11 Group Reads - Archives > Uncle Silas - Ch. 36-42

Comments Showing 1-8 of 8 (8 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Silver (last edited Nov 04, 2011 09:59PM) (new)








message 2: by MadgeUK (last edited Nov 06, 2011 12:07AM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments In chapter 36 the early mention of the turqoise ring given to her by Milly and which Maud always wears, is significant because turquoise ('turkish stone') is one of the oldest protection amulets, and was also known as a symbol of wealth in many ancient cultures:. 'It protects the wearer from harm and makes a connection to the spirit world. If given by a loving friend, the stone would protect the wearer and bring good fortune. It is a symbol of friendship and peace in the home.'

Two interesting names in this chapter too - the Italian L'Amour is from Lucia de Lammermoor from Sir Walter Scott's novel The Bride of Lammermoor, a story of a 17C feuding Scottish family made into a tragic opera by Donizetti. Is she an Italian version of Madame? Cormoran may be a play on Cormorant which, as well as being a sea bird, is a voracious eater and a gluttonous servant.

We see great ambiguity in Maud's description of her Uncle at this meeting: 'How gentle, how benignant, how unearthly, and inscrutable!' The hypocrisy of Silas becomes obvious as he dismisses the brutality of his servants whilst appearing as a saintly figure quoting the scriptures.

Dr Bryerly appears even more benign in this chapter and seems to be warning Maud that she has fallen into a hell-hole when he reads from 'that awful portion of the book which assumes to describe the condition of the condemned'. He again suggests she should change her guardianship and leaves her his address in London before departing. She may well need the help of her now 'ugly, vulgar, true friend'!

We also see a braver Maud emerging in this chapter: 'Indeed I am a wavering, irresolute creature as ever lived, in my ordinary mood. High excitement or passion only can inspire me with decision. Under the inspiration of either, however, I am transformed, and often both prompt and brave.' She will need to be brave to extricate herself from this monstrous household!:O

message 3: by MadgeUK (last edited Nov 05, 2011 09:51AM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments The Banbury cakes brought to Maud by Milly as a peace offering are a traditional pastry similar to Eccles' cake, a puff pastry filled with mixed dried fruits and spices:-

message 4: by Susan Margaret (new)

Susan Margaret (susanmargaretg) MadgeUK wrote: "The Banbury cakes brought to Maud by Milly as a peace offering are a traditional pastry similar to Eccles' cake, a puff pastry filled with mixed dried fruits and spices:-


Ok, I am hungry now. I want to eat a Banbury cake.

message 5: by ☯Emily (new)

☯Emily  Ginder Can someone tell me what a "Tony Lumpkin" is? It is a description of Dudley in chapter 41.

message 6: by MadgeUK (last edited Nov 06, 2011 10:48PM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments Tony Lumpkin is a character in Oliver Goldsmith's satirical comedy She Stoops to Conquer, which was very popular in Fanu's time. He is an uneducated playboy promised in marriage to his cousin, so the character bears a resemblance to Dudley.

Miss Hoyden is a character in a 17C play The Relapse by Vanbrugh. Like Maud, she is a heiress but her character is more like Milly's. The word hoyden later came to mean a tomboy. Sir Tunbelly Clumsey, also mentioned, is a country squire and the father of Miss Hoyden. Another theatrical name mentioned is (Mrs) Malaprop who is the famous character from Brinsley Sheridan's bawdy play The Rivals , who mis-spoke words:

Her character gave rise to the use of the word maloprop to mean such mistakes in speech, although Shakespeare had used them previously. Brinsley Sheridan was le Fanu's great uncle, so he is giving him a plug here!:)

Le Fanu does quite a lot of name dropping in this section, also referring to the early gothic novelist Anne Radcliffe and scenes from her novel, the Castle of Otranto.

message 7: by MadgeUK (last edited Nov 06, 2011 11:02PM) (new)

MadgeUK | 5214 comments LOL Seeuuder, you had better get cooking!

Given the reference to the supernatural in the novel, the mention of Banbury may also allude to the once famous crossroads there, referred to in the old Nursery Rhyme, 'Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross...'. Crossroads were considered magical places and a Celtic custom took place at dawn when people 'would go to a crossroads and light fires at each of the cardinal directions. They would ride thrice round the intersection on a broom and sit down on the ground to wait for the vision of a dark woman on a white horse to gallop by coming from the east and going west'.

(BTW Banbury is not in Derbyshire but in Oxfordshhire, much further south.)

message 8: by Jenny (new)

Jenny | 57 comments Really liked this section. Funny how Maud starts to question whether Dudley is the man from her Church Scarsdale meeting, when he's done nothing of honor to make her question her memory.

back to top