As For Me and My Essay By: Cory Boucher ENG 2400

ruining everything he could be. Bentley is like a cancer to Philip. the events that she describes are not objective but subjective. Evelyn Hinz and John Teunissen take a different stand on the novel. Bentley. In Anne Compton’s article “As If I Really Mattered”: The Narrator of Sinclair Ross’s As For Me and My House. Bentley’s Child?” “As For Me and My House” and the Conventions of Dramatic Monologue. Mrs. they are either pro-Philip or pro-Mrs. Bentley. In their article. The many derogatory comment that she quotes give an impression on the reader that the narrator is culpable for . Bentley. Many of the literary critics of the novel tend to then focus on the character through whose eyes the audience sees all of the actions of the novel take place. In Anne Compton’s article she begins by quoting many other authors to show the general literary consensus on their attitudes towards Mrs. Since Ross has decided to use a first-person narrator. The two articles assigned. “Who’s the father of Mrs.2 Sinclair Ross’s As For Me and My House leaves many of the actions in it to be interpreted by the reader. they argue their points inconclusively and lack adequate proof in defending their theses. they wish to prove that Mrs.” they show that the novel is a dramatic monologue and that Mrs. represent the two points of view that most critics seem to take. she attempts to defend Mrs. Bentley purposefully manipulates her retelling of events to gain sympathy and absolve herself of her past actions. While these two articles are confident in their opinions. Bentley’s actions as those of a hopelessly oppressed victim. Therefore the reader can never truly know the absolute truth about any actions or events described in the novel.

“the warden here is hostage to the prisoner’s needs” (Compton.3 manipulating all of the events of the novel as well as the people in it. “As If I Really Mattered”. 1).” and “far from gold” (Compton. “As If I Really Mattered”. She feels that the actions of Mrs. “As If I Really Mattered”. Compton claims that this makes no difference as “investigations of the narrator ultimately become accounts of Philip. the other literary criticisms that Compton references a dispute over the main character of the novel. Compton then enters the first main point of her essay in which she tries to remove blame from Mrs.” an “imperial narrator. a powerlessness reinforced by Ross and the Western cultural notion of women. but it is on Philip in his relation to his perceiver.” by looking at them as the acts of a powerless woman. Bentley” (Compton. Bentley like she were a convict that Compton would like to reintegrate into society and be someone people come to respect (Compton. or warden. 5).” but as Sandra Djwa adds to this by saying that “the focus. She justifies her aggression and “her management of people and emotions. Mrs. 2). The second main point of the article deals with the ironic nature of the Mrs. Compton fully states her thesis. “As If I Really Mattered”. Philip. Among their many arguments. Bentley are just the desperate acts of a woman lashing out at her captors and that while she is the keeper. She tells the reader that she wishes to “rehabilitate” Mrs. Bentley for being a manipulator. Bentley character as a “prisoner who imprisons and a watcher who is herself watched (Compton. 2). Compton then returns to quoting other critics that go so far as to brand the narrator Mrs. In the final part of the introductory section of her essay. Bentley as a “biased filtering eye. (Compton. 5). “As If I Really Mattered”. Compton uses the example of the elements as . “As If I Really Mattered”. of this journal. therefore is on the man. 5).

to be seen. she “does not change their lives through her scheme of saving for a bookstore. Bentley has changed through the rehashing of the events of the past year in journal form and rebuilt herself and overcome her pettiness in an attempt to find true happiness. Bentley. in the end. “As If I Really Mattered”. Compton feels that Mrs. The attempted invasion of the elements into her small shelter of a house makes her feel like the walls are closing in on her and she is being slowly squeezed into nothingness. Compton feels that “the basic human need. 9). Compton forgives Mrs. Judith. Bentley has undergone a transformation by the end of the novel and has found worth in her life. She feels that Mrs. will look at the subject in a broad terms in an attempt to find scraps of truth in the broad to justify a specific case. “As If I Really Mattered”. which states that it is an attempt to prove something and. he is tuned from his wife” (Compton.4 one of the oppressive forces against Mrs. lacking enough proof. This is especially dangerous to her because of the lack of a bond with her husband. “As If I Really Mattered”. In the final section of her essay. Bentley and her vision of future marital happiness “because either way (flesh or art). Compton uses the end of the novel as a basis to assume that Mrs. she changes their lives by changing herself” (Compton. Bentley has been striving for her whole married life (Compton. 9). While she . Bentley as one who identifies the threats to her happiness and deal with them.” is what Mrs. Bentley is looking to “get on” with domesticity and that. to live and in living to count. The ‘nothingness’ is encroaching in on her life and threatens to swallow her whole. These interests of Philip’s are detrimental to Mrs. Compton then goes on to discuss the various attentions that Philip has throughout the novel (Steve. to matter. Bentley. painting) that are external to Mrs. 7). Compton’s argument is as convincing as her thesis.

Bentley’s journal is written for an audience. 1). her other points do not cogently follow the same logic and fail to prove anything. as shown by her ‘false fronts’. They see this style of narrative as that of someone with a guilty conscience who wants to get caught a style accompanied by the inadvertent revelation of evidence and the “projection onto others of one’s own motives and the inadvertent trapping of oneself in contradictions” (Hinz and Teunissen. and can be taken as an attempt to present a case to the reader in an effort to be absolved of her guilt. she does not cogently absolve Mrs. this absolves her of nothing. only appeals to the sympathy of the reader for mercy. Bentley in her relationship with her husband is solid. defenceless victim of oppression who reacts with pettiness to defend herself. While the points she makes about the nothingness that threatens to swallow Mrs. Bentley’s Child?”. “Who is the Father of Mrs. They compare the narrator of As For Me and My House with other narratives whom “give us not merely a biased observer but one with a guilty conscience” (Hinz and Teunissen. While I personally agree with Compton's underlying statement that critics are much too harsh on Mrs. They feel that Mrs. Bentley but instead touches upon different issues in an effort to garner support. They see Ross’ novel as a dramatic monologue. 1). Compton does not convince the reader with her argument of Mrs. Bentley’s hypocritical actions that she will not . Bentley’s Child?”. Bentley as a poor. “Who is the Father of Mrs.5 does take a different point of view from her narrator-demonizing colleagues. and that Ross is inviting the reader to look deeper into the narrative to find Mrs. These critics feel that Mrs. Bentley is a very hypocritical woman. Hinz and Teunissen take a much different approach to the subject of the journalbased narrative. Bentley as a manipulator and a purposely-deceitful character.

They think that this is an attempt to divert the blame from another action. Bentley tells the audience that on the night “Philip proposed. Bentley much different than the woman who he lives with during the passage of the novel. Hinz and Teunissen go on to insinuate that at the time of the proposal. one that would hurt their marriage later on because Philip was marrying a Mrs. Bentley’s Child?”. They then use her obscurity .6 acknowledge to herself and. 4). “Who is the Father of Mrs. according to these two critics. Bentley erected before she married Philip. such a description sounds less like that of a lover and more like that of a man who has steeled himself against his natural inclinations” (Hinz and Teunissen. Bentley’s recollection of meeting Philip. … he came to her “erect and white-lipped” and asked her to marry him. one much more devastating. In the first part of their essay they address the ‘false front’ that Mrs. her journal. The article then moves on to discuss the matter of the stillborn child. They use her paranoia and the apparent pressures she feels from the environment as admissions of some sort of past or present guilt that she does not relay to the audience. In Mrs. Mrs. Bentley. Hinz and Teunissen view this passage as a temporary change in the character of Mrs. Bentley was pregnant. Bentley presents the stillbirth as the cause for her guilt in the marriage and her need to make it up to Philip. Mrs. she tells the reader how she abandoned the piano and that Philip became the main thing in her life. They feel that Philip’s constantly withdrawing to his study is demonstrative of his unhappiness with the direction that the marriage has taken. by extension. Hinz and Teunissen think that Philip was unaware of the ‘true’ woman he was marrying as she erected false fronts before the wedding. Mrs. However. in a dramatic monologue the original explanation for guilt is a misleading one.

They use this hypothesis to explain “why instead of being bitter about Philip’s adultery she responds as if she were the “guilty one”” (Hinz and Teunissen. This is why she does not approve the adoption of Steve because it “would not have [balanced] the moral score. there is no real proof that Philip has committed adultery. Hinz and Teunissen then turn all of the blame that the Bentley’s place on the church and the trapped feeling that they get onto Mrs.7 over the birth date of the child and the amount of time that the two have been married to find that the baby had been conceived out of wedlock. 6). to alleviate her guilt it is necessary for her to be in the position of the wronged party” (Hinz and Teunissen. Bentley and the two of them being ‘trapped’ into a marriage because she got pregnant. “Who is the Father of Mrs. Bentley wants to replace the child that she feels responsible for losing. They go on to explain that Mrs. One of their key points is that the Bentley’s sexual relationship improves just as Philip is supposed to be with Judith. claiming that the proof of his unfaithfulness is unfounded. “Who is the Father of Mrs. Bentley’s Child?”. They ask the question “does he see in going along . 6). Bentley’s Child?”. They then go further to assert that “her narrative creates the impression that if she did not somehow engineer the adultery she was nevertheless waiting for something like this to happen” (Hinz and Teunissen. “Who is the Father of Mrs. Because of the questionability of Mrs. Bentley’s Child?”. Hinz and Teunissen discuss this guilt in the keeping in mind the guilt that they think Philip must feel over making his wife assume so much of the blame. The only real proof is that Philip refuses to explicitly deny the allegations brought forth by Mrs. The two authors then change the subject and defend Philip. Bentley. Bentley’s episode where she hears the ‘little laugh’. 5).

Bentley’s apparent disregard for true facts. They then recall the story that Mrs. Finley ends up buying the rompers from Mrs. Bentley that are meant to brand Mr. They list several incidents. Denham argues that the novel fails as a diary entry style novel. “Who is the Father of Mrs. Bentley tells of her former lover Percy Glenn. Bentley feels about her former lover and why she still feels this guilt. 7).8 with her assumption that he is an adulterer a way of regaining sexual stature in her eyes?” (Hinz and Teunissen. Hinz and Teunissen point out this double standard and further question the guilt that Mrs. Hinz and Teunissen’s dramatic monologue. While they have a well-structured and rather persuasive argument. Mrs. ultimately the reader must choose to disregard the main points in the Hinz and Teunissen essay. Bentley’s Child?”. however at the end of the novel. Finley may be the child of the newly adopted Bentley baby. The way that she describes their relationship through music leaves much room for interpretation and can easily be read as a list of sexual euphemisms. change the novel from truthful journal entries into something else entirely. Finley as a fornicator and to create another potential father for the child at the end of the novel. such as the lack of the eleven-year drought she speaks of. including the church sale where Mr. Hinz and Teunissen then finish their article with the discussion of the opinions of two other authors. Hinz and Teunissen then bring the reader’s attention to the fact that after speaking to Percy. David Williams and Paul Denham. years after being married. Williams brings to attention the possibility that Mr. Most of . They use the Williams article to question the role of Paul and the paternity of Judith’s child. she views Philip's loving actions towards her as admissions of guilt. Bentley smothers Philip with love. He claims that Mrs.

They find facts in the negative. The omissions in the journal do not necessarily mean that their theories are correct and in some cases their arguments sound like the ramblings of conspiracy theorists. They rest the blame for the marriage and the lack of children on her shoulders. this does not mean that either of the married parties is infertile. is that they are just that. Bentley got pregnant was most definitely the work of the two people. assumptions. 5). They are only possibilities and are not backed up by solid fact. in thee case of Hinz and Teunissen. Bentley. but their proof was non-existent or. They go to far in criticizing her actions and assuming the evil intentions of the “whore of Babylon” (Hinz and Teunissen. Bentley is in the pregnancy and stillbirth of their conceived child. Their opinions were quite good. looking into what Mrs. As . showing a certain bias while trying to place the blame for this unhappy marriage. it just means there was a complication beyond the control of the two. Bentley and paint the picture of Philip with a much different brush. One example where they unjustly blame Mrs. which would be biologically impossible. As for the stillbirth. Hinz and Teunissen tend to lay the blame for everything that is wrong squarely on the shoulders of Mrs. The fact that Mrs. and grave injustice. not just Mrs.9 their proof is based on actions that are omitted from the journal. neither fully or persuasively argues their point and the reader is left to their original opinion which they formulated when they read the book. The danger with these assumptions however. Who is the Father of Mrs. While both of the articles present new theories on Sinclair Ross’ highly interpretive novel. Hinz and Teunissen are too harsh on Mrs. Bentley cannot bring herself to tell the reader. was based on drawing incredibly detailed information out of absences in the novel. Bentley. Bentley’s Child?.

which leaves much of the facts up to the reader to discern. Because of its first-person narration. .10 For Me and My House is a highly interpretive novel. these two authors lack the necessary proof to persuade the reader to look at the novel in a new light. Sinclair Ross’ novel can be read many different ways because of the style it is written in. every observation and fact presented is biased and possibly misinterpretation or an outright lie.

” Canadian Literature. “Who is the Father of Mrs. University of British Columbia.. 29 Mar. University of New Brunswick. “As If I Really Mattered”: The Narrator of Sinclair Ross’s As For Me and My House.11 Works Cited Compton. Evelyn J.d. 2011. 29 Mar. and John J. n. Hinz. Bentley’s Child? “As For Me and My House” and the Conventions of Dramatic Monologue.d. Teunissen. Anne. Web. n.” Studies in Canadian Literature. Web. 2011 .