Images Of Women

.. ed away” from him. The reason why she left is alluded to in the second stanza, most likely a misunderstanding between the two parties. Even though the woman is now again out of reach, the narrator still idealizes her. He remembers her at her perfection, with flowers in her arms and in her hair.

Even the quote above the poem indicates his admiration: “O quam te memorem virgo..” , O remember the maiden. [5] In Rhapsody on a Windy Night, Eliot evokes images and sounds that describe his consummate woman. The moon “winks”, “smiles”, and”smooths the hair” of the grass, actions similar to the actions of a woman. The moon also represents a symbol of chastity Collier 5 and purity of woman. Again, the narrator idealizes this woman, but does not trust her. “..female smells in shuttered rooms,” indicates he is afraid of women because they can hide their sexuality, and men cannot.

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[6] Eliot wants a woman of perfection, but realizes that no such woman exists. In all three works, there are scenes when women are not present, but even in their absence they still have great impact. The women characters in A Passage to India, Major Barbara, and T.S. Eliots poetry are all dignified in their absence. Ironically, their absence makes them more real to the authors who create them, and the characters with which these women interact. In A Passage to India, no womans impact in her absence is as great as Azizs dead wife. Aziz admits that he did not love her when they were first married, and shortly after he grew to love her she passed on.

Only when she dies does Aziz truly appreciate her love, and her sacrifice to bring Azizs son into the world. The more time passes after her death, the more sincerely he mourns her. In Forsters own words, Aziz fails to realize “.the very fact that we have loved the dead increases their unreality..the more passionately we invoke [them] the further they recede.” Adelas absence after the Marabar Caves incident in Passage because of her illness throws the whole Anglo-Indian society into turmoil. The English men and women are thrown against one another and against the Indians. Even in her absence, Adela”brought out all that was fine in [the English] character.” [8] Socialite women appear to show compassion, and the English men are more protective towards their wives. To the English, Adelas experience is a violation of all they hold dear.

Collier 6 However, when Adela shows up at the trial and recants her statement, she is no longer dignified. Mrs. Turton, who once stood by Adela, screams insults at her. Mrs. Moores absence (leaving for England) in Passage has the same amount of impact on Azizs trial as does Adelas recanted statement. Mahmoud Ali charges Ronny with smuggling Mrs.

Moore out of state, so that she could not prove Azizs innocence on the stand. The idea that one lady could change the innocence or guilt of Aziz amazes the Indians in the audience. They chant “Esmiss Esmoor” and she is made into an Indian goddess, the heroine of a people she has never even met. Mrs. Moores always absent daughter Stella drastically impacts the friendship of Fielding and Aziz in Passage. Stella is never shown to the reader, she is always described but always in the other boat.

(Shahane 17) Aziz assumes that Fielding has gone back to England and married Adela. Rather than admit to his blunder, Aziz retaliates by accusing Fielding of marrying into his enemys family. Because neither is willing to apologize for their mistakes, a friendship is destroyed. In T.S. Eliots poetry, without absence, women have no meaning. In Portrait of a Lady, the narrator has trouble forming a friendship with or writing to the “lady”.

He thinks she could be dead by the time his letters reach her. After his absence from her, his feelings change. In the first stanza of the poem, the woman remarks that “..I think his soul / Should be resurrected only among friends”. [9] In the last stanza, the narrator reflects back on her statement: “This music is successful with a dying fall”. [10] The narrator only seems to be able to form a friendship with his “lady” after her Collier 7 death. He can now resurrect her soul, and relive the memories they shared.

In Aunt Helen, Eliot makes it obvious again that without absence, women have no meaning. Eliot describes his aunt living in a “fashionable square” and servants cared for her. These society symbols mean nothing to Eliot. Only after Aunt Helens death does any action take place. The dogs are cared for, but the parrot dies; time continues to go on without her; and the footman and Aunt Helens maid continue their affair.

Her death is seen as a dignified service. The dogs are “handsomely provided for”, and the maid and footman can now continue their affair publicly. [11] In Major Barbara, Barbaras occasional absence is used for Cusins and Undershaft to discuss Barbaras future. There is talk of her controlling the Undershaft business and fortune, how much a year she is to live on, and eventually her marriage to the cunning Cusins. It is also decided in her absence that Cusins will eventually take over the Undershaft business, leaving Barbara to decide alone what path she will take. Societys standards for women have changed since the Victorian era, and the way men relate to women has changed.

The “ideal” woman still does not exist, although a vision of the Victorian-era woman is present in these three works. Women are the most misunderstood characters in literature. Authors used archetypes, absences, and characterization to try and unravel the mysteries of the woman. What does it take to figure women out? Perhaps T.S. Eliot said it best: “Some way incomparably light and deft, / Some way we both should understand, / Simple and faithless as a smile and shake of the hand.” [12] Bibliography [1] Not all four archetypes are present in all three works. [2] A Passage to India page 147 [3] A Passage to India page 42 [4] A Passage to India page 162 [5] All quotes in this section from T.S.

Eliot: Collected Poems; La Figlia che Piange page 26 [6] T.S. Eliot: Collected Poems; Rhapsody on a Windy Night page 18 [7] A Passage to India page 57 and 58 [8] A Passage to India page 199 [9] T.S. Eliot: Collected Poems; Portrait of a Lady page 8 [10] T.S. Eliot: Collected Poems; Portrait of a Lady page 12 [11] All quotes in this section from T.S. Eliot: Collected Poems; Aunt Helen page 21 [12] T.S. Eliot: Collected Poems; La Figlia che Piange page 26.


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