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MasterGilbert: An Analysisof Passage #2

PatrickMcevoy-Hal ston 971257 6

English200C Dr. Leighton Feb.4I 02

In this passage Gilbert seems be bravelyofferingHalford (hereafter:reader)evidence to of he "full andfaithful" account Gilbertpromised him in his introductory letter. He documents his
aS striking of Mr. Lawrence so as to seemto be offering his reader as honest a portr ayal--pt{proper decorum permits--of the very thought processeppnd emotions he experiencedboth at the time of

the incident,andat the time of writing aboutthe incident,for his reader'sassessment. Though (his favouriterhetoricaldevicethroughout writings his language oftenlofty andmelodious is his to an ' ,/salliteratioffihich might normallysuggest implied affitudeof playful superiority his

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reader, overalltonesuggests of a distantobserver his that who, reflectingon his own behaviour,

r*yr] t is intentto offer a sincere,self-ridiculing,andrepentantexpos6.However,this is a serviceable ,d
ast to Gilbertis not, ultimately,submittingto his reader.Rather, Gilberthasconstructed. _that ,' userhetoricinspiredby his own poetictoolkit, it is his reader that is "being takenfor a ride." In
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, the gurseof his self-deprecatingaccount of his thoughts and behaviour, through Gilbert's skilful

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/ use of a key metaphor and the rhetgrical figure litotes, as well as through his understandingand ai;i: ir"p:,46 iy7 ;' use of the potential implacablenEslof language,Gilbert deliberately excites his reader's

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/ emotions by bringing him as close to experiencingthe documentedevent as possible, yet leavps .r"9

r his readerin a positionof knowingthereis moreto know, ffid of wanlingto knowQtor{, a)ne he without full didclosure. Ultimately,Gilbert is a tease: courtshis i withdrawsfrom the account







reader'sinterestandmasters reader's his desiremuchlike HelencourtsGilbert andthe communities'interest, AnneBror\tdcourts o and our


.Xi:#tmystery of

portrayinghimselfasa horse. He is "chewingthe cud of-Gilbertbeginsby metaphorically for over bitter fancies"(89). As punishment obsessing "fancies,"andfor the actionhe will soon perpetrate, his to Gilbert,reflectingon the incident,encourages reader imaginehim asa horse.

He also deliberatelychooses image,seemingly,sothat thLrough this figurative language can he bestencapsulate most accurate, the most telling accountofthis incidentto his reader. He uses the horsemetaphoraspart ofan effectivethernaticstringwhich hasthe readerunderstand to that Gilbert, IvIr. Lawrence'swords swned,designed inflict maximrmrhumiliation, andthal the to at / entire nature of the relationshipbetweenGilbert andMr. L,awrence this point for Gilbert at , / least,is saturated with a concemof who will masterwhom. (Indeed,Gilbert deliberatelyinserts the very terms'lnaste,f' and"servanf into this passage the samepurpose.) So Gilbert hasthe for readerimaginehim asa horse,andfollows this with Mr. l,awrenceaskingGilbert if his horseis lame. purporteary/to even Gilbert,too, usespersonification, conveyhis struggles acknowledge, to


at the time of his writing, his difficulty in fully accepting own culpabilityfor Mr. Lawrence's his injury. He writesthat his "whip handtingld andgrasped with convulsive energy'' their charge - + 4,uY' (89), suggesting! a rider's horse,the outlpontrol behaviour the responsibility an tite is of


an he to "other"--in this case, "impulse"--which struggles restrain.Thushe writes,"I restrained ' (89; my emphasis), not(\ restrained the nnpulse" and myimpulse)Lut"rhe writesthat,

my some "impelledby somefiend at my elbow,I hadseized whip" (90),in which, again, him to behave certairwa|. , a "other"--afiend this time--iscausing '/ ,/

However, becausehe has previously forewarned his readerthat he was "waiting for some more tangible causeof offence,before . . . [he] openedthe flood-gatesof . . . [his] soul" (89), which is an acknowledgementthat wild passionsare, finally, the subject of his own deliberate

' control,Gilbert clearlywantshis reader imaginethathe is tryng to work his way to a to complete final acknowledgement the fault for the incidentrestsentirelywith himself, and that natureof the deed,is a very difficult thing for him to do but that this, considering egregious the




withoutwavering. thereby portrays He himself a sinner iYstrugglinyyieVent. since as who Yet
the world of the nov

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all guidance without the unrelenting 'gp^r^qi'1 suggeslJhat menaresavage \ to master his,gyt'pride serves makehim also to UF*ert*€mhg



makes his occasionsof success admitting his own full in

responsibility morelikely to drawthe reader'sattention (andapproval), thanhis inability, at

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othertimes,to do so does. In short,his very self-deprecating is account a form of self-

promotion. Gilbert is indeeda cleverlad; andno moresothanwhenhe useslitotes,a rhetoricalfigureby

which oneaffirms something the course denyingits contrary--an devicefor someone in of apt to

use w{2lv denvine ownvirtyg{s his actually effecting a96 it! Heintoduces account to his by saying he"heard that horse another at nogrcatdrstance behind (89;enrphasis me" mine).
encourage ambiguitpthereader mightinterpret phrasing meaning thehorse his as that

wasnot at a great distance wasat a considerable but distance; asis, I think, evident,the but,



is generally ratherdifferent: litotesusuallysuggest, emphasize, opposite reading-and an

but onewhich mustbe generated the reader kept in mind ashe / sheweighstwo by and contraries.In sum:litotestease reader the into an investigation.ThuswhenGilbert says,"I am not surethat a species exultation"(90; emphasis of mine),he not only suggests he, rather,is that acfuallyquite sure,perhaps not morethansure--he certain,butbaitsthe reader only into is imaginingandexperiencing feelingsof exultation, likely, at somelevel, alsointo desiringto but to know more aboutthe variouskinds of exultation that apparently existandthat Gilbert seems know much of! Gilbert,here,however,impliesknowledge, doesnot revealit. He explainsthathe must but as it restrainfunher disclosure because would not be flatteringto him, andperhaps, is suggested


by theuseof decorous (e.g.,"slackening pace"(89),"accosted by name"(89), language my me ..anSweringhissalutation,,,r,,@ughout,becausehemeansa1sotoimplythathehas alreadystretched very limits of self-disclosure the without it verginginto indecent excess.This,
from a man who began by portraylng himself as a cud chewlqg horse!
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But Gilbert hadmore in mind

selflnplication| sel&eprecation, en he compared

himself to a horse. He wantedthe readerto imagqneforhimselfwhatlt migtltbe like to hot and chew cud like a horse-and he likely succeeds it because is an enticing,almostinwitable, imaginativeexplorationthat would follow from encountering sucha playful fransformation.But the effect, then,when Gilbert writes that he clapped"spursto . . . [his] own horse"(90), is that the reader, at somelevel, simulates what it might feel like to be struckby spurs! Gilbert, in endingthe encounter with Mr. Iawrence this wal, leavl.the readerwith a sense that he, too, as

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Mr. has 41 withtheunfortunate Lawrence, been'tnastere/' fu' ^^|-'il"' u \/




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And thereader been has mastered. Gilbertshows restraint detailing exposition no in his until theen$ryhen suddenly he claimsa difficulty in analysis. intellectual, His abstact,language-\,/

usedthroughouthis account-is usefirl to conveya sense he is offering up nothing shortofa that of but language justifr genflemanly, to "scientific" full disclosure evidence, it is alsoappropriate judicious, self-reshaint-aswell asbeing,ironcally, theideal sort of language useto obfuscate to meaning. His restraintis prglocative: he leaveshis readerwith a mystery,andhe surrounds the mysteryof the exactnatureofhis exultedfeelingswith a phalanxofpolysyllabic words,which, combined,work more to deflectthan supportclearunderstanding ofhis meaningby the reader. The word *exultation" is encased one endby "creditableto my disposition"(90), and at the on otherby "one principal concomitanf'(90), very much asthe mysteryof Helenis vizually fortressed the sunoundingcommunityandfor readers for ofthe novel by the fencing,walls, and

inner space Wildfell Hall. of

Gilbd relateshis episode with Mr. Lawrencein the sameway that ArureBron$Sdntroduces Helento us: we areoffered a powerful first encounter with her to stir up our interestandinvolve
/ us in the story, and then Anne withdraws her, shrouds her i{mystty,which


has us reading

us doublymastered our own desires, by otr mischievous, by and deceptive, self-senting, siren authors.

Works Cited erodHenne. TheTenant Wildfell Hall. New York: J. M. DentandSonsLtd, lg2g. of