My Mortal Enemy

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My Mortal Enemy

Post by Litlove on Sat Mar 31, 2012 9:14 pm

Just reading everyone's reviews here and thought I'd open up the discussion. I'm writing mine tomorrow, but very much enjoying everyone's thoughts!

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Re: My Mortal Enemy

Post by Litlove on Sat Mar 31, 2012 9:26 pm

I should really kick us off with a topic - Oswald looks a good place to start - do we think he is a virtuous and loving man wronged by a high maintenance wife, or a quietly cunning man, careful to present an honorable facade but with a little too much of an eye for the ladies?

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Re: My Mortal Enemy

Post by Rohan on Sat Mar 31, 2012 10:52 pm

Are we allowed to answer "yes" to both? Smile

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Re: My Mortal Enemy

Post by Stefanie on Sat Mar 31, 2012 11:24 pm

I'm with Rowan, I'd like to say yes to both too Smile I think he loved Myra to begin with at least, but she was such a demanding and jealous and difficult woman that he quietly and discretely sought out admiring affection elsewhere. We all want to be admired by someone and it seems Myra wanted all the admiration but didn't want to give any back to Oswald so he found himself his own young admirers.

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Re: My Mortal Enemy

Post by bookgazing on Sun Apr 01, 2012 10:35 am

I'd like to say yes to both too, because it makes their marriage so much more interesting if Oswald is a good man, who still can't co-exist happily with his wife and Myra is a good woman, who perhaps feels trapped and wishes for a bigger stage. Then the novel becomes about the clash of two personalituies caught together in perhaps the wrong time period. Imagine if Myra had been a captain of industry and re-directed all her brash, strong nature at her work instead of her husband. Imagine is Oswald had been born in the time Nellie thinks he would have liked best, when he could have been an explorer away from his wife who would find other things to occupy her. I think that's a really interesting reading.

At the same time, I just can't get over his reaction during their row over the key. He thinks they're unobserved and he's much colder than usual, so blithe in his lies. His fumbling behaviour during the topaz incident (which seems a corner stone for the idea that he's really un comofrtable playing the cad), I now put down to the fact that he thought his little bit of play acting would come off, but finds himself foiled by his wife's sharp mind. There are just little things that make me think there's more going on than Nellie sees and that she excuses his lapses in behaviour more easily than Myra's. I think we may be seeing a relationship that sours over time as Stefanie suggests and Myra seems to back that up when she's dying, by saying they were happy but not all the time.

Stefanie I totally want to know why you think she's jealous. Is it her reaction to the key? I see her as demanding and difficult, but not sure about jealous.

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Re: My Mortal Enemy

Post by Stefanie on Mon Apr 02, 2012 3:31 pm

I don't have the book handy at the moment so I can't check, but I seem to recall Oswald commenting to Lydia about Myra being jealous and I think Myra later says something as well when she's dying.

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Re: My Mortal Enemy

Post by Litlove on Mon Apr 02, 2012 3:40 pm

Jodie, I'm really intrigued by what you say about Myra needing a bigger stage. I liked that thought although when I read it, I felt she was one of those people who can never be satisfied with what they have, and who sabotages her own happiness. Is there a feminist subtext, do we think? Does Nellie, and her easy acceptance of working her way up, represent a different generation and one less hidebound by convention?

And I'm interested to hear more thoughts on Nellie. I seem to be the only one to think she changes and develops over the course of the narrative. Most people find her very unobtrusive, and yet every word of the story supposedly belongs to her. If we didn't have Nellie narrating, how would the tale be different?

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Re: My Mortal Enemy

Post by Stefanie on Tue Apr 03, 2012 3:23 pm

I don't see Nellie as working her way up or representing a different generation. She is working as a teacher because she has to it seems, not because she has any sort of ambition.

Since the story isn't about Nellie and she is set up as a rather bland narrator who doesn't really make any judgments about Myra, I didn't expect Nellie to change. If she changes at all, I guess I would say she can no longer romaticize relationships and marriage like she did when she was 15.

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