Written on the Body

Written on the Body reminds me a lot of Lady of the House of Love. Louise and the narrator reminded me a lot of the Countess and the soldier. Louise seems to have this power over the narrator that the soldier had over the Countess. The narrator is known for being a “dog” to the woman he is with. He is only this way because every woman before played him. Most of them were married and ended up leaving him. His revenge was to never “fall in love” again. He once said, “I had lately learned that another way of writing fall in love is walk the plank.” The narrator met Louise. From the beginning it seemed that they had a “thing” for one another. Louise was married though, just like the others. That didn’t seem to matter to the narrator this time; even though sometimes he would remind himself by saying things such as, “Whenever you think you are falling remember that ring is molten hot and will burn you through and through.” In other words saying, “Don’t get hurt by another married woman.” Louise had a control over the narrator though. He says, “A heroine from a Gothic novel, mistress of her house, yet capable of setting fire to it and fleeing in the night with one bag.” This made me look back and think of Lady of the House of Love. He also says, “But she wouldn’t call the police, she’d take her pearl-handled revolver from the glass decanter and shoot me through the heart.” This showed how much of a dominant woman she was to him.

The narrator knew that if it came out about him and Louise being together that it would hurt the woman he was with, Jacqueline. Besides the narrator having the trust issues with Louise, Louise had them with him. He tried telling her multiple times that he loved her; but she wasn’t hearing it. She told him not to say those words unless he really meant them. She wanted to keep it as friends, because she was scared to get hurt. The narrator says, “She didn’t trust me. As a friend I had been amusing. As a lover I was lethal.” She wanted him to come to her without a past. She wanted him to prove his love for her. All in all, it seemed that the narrator couldn’t get over Jacqueline. He for an instance thought about her. That seems to be the only difference between the two stories. There was someone extra making the two hold back their love for one another in Written on the Body.


Irish Revel Mini-Thesis

What I found most interesting in this story was the discrepancy between a cultured town folk party and a “shy” mountain folk party. Mrs. Rodgers, the lady who may have been called the host, abandons all the girls (three of whom are drunk) in order to go likely continue an affair with Brogan. She invited Mary with the intention of having her serve the actual guests, and the other girls made fun of her practically the entire time. These things are, I’m fairly certain, unthinkable to the “shy” mountain folk.

The Courtship of Mr. Lyon/ The Tiger’s Bride Mini-Thesis

In both of these stories, the beasts have the peculiar (maybe not so peculiar for a fairy tale) circumstance of living in “haunted houses”. This does not go to say there are troubled spirits or demonic forces at work in their homes, unless that explains the presence of their rather helpful servants. Regardless, it could be better said that the beasts are the ones haunting their own houses, making it even more difficult to obtain the companionship they both crave.

A Scandalous Woman

Edna O’Brien, A Fanatic Heart: Selected Stories of Edna O’Brien, A Scandalous Woman (New York: Plume, 1985).

In the short story, “A Scandalous Woman,” Edna O’Brien elaborates on the sacrificial role that young women assume as a result of Irish cultural values and their own naivety.  The story is conveyed to the reader through the recollections of an older woman reminiscing on a cherished childhood friendship with Eily Hogan, for whom the story is aptly named.  From the onset, the narrator identifies herself as Eily’s shadow.  This is illuminated in the vignette of Eily who is portrayed as beautiful but rebellious in nature.  Moreover, the narrator’s characterization suggests that she was the meeker of the two girls (O’Brien, 23).  As such, this establishes the friendship as linear. It evolves from a point of infatuation on the narrator’s part to one of girlish mischief laced in secrecy and culminating in a regrettable dissolution.

The secrecy of the relationship resonates from Eily’s unscrupulous liaisons with a local bank clerk who has newly arrived in town.  Eily expresses her passion for “Romeo” and employs the narrator to aid her in meeting him (O’Brien, 244-245).  Reluctantly the narrator agrees in order to preserve the friendship.  However, she serves as a counter to Eily’s immorality as she bears the burdens of guilt for both of them.  Additionally, the seedy relationship of Eily and Jack serves as a prop to depict how the social pressures wrought from family tradition, sense of honor and religion serve to entrap women.  This is portrayed by the reactions of the supporting characters when the tryst is exposed as Eily’s “fall from grace.” She suffers harsh punishments such as beatings and solitary confinement which are meant to make her conform to society’s norms. Marriage to the bank clerk is also forced upon her.  The marriage serves as the primary catalyst in breaking Eily’s free spirit and leads to her eventual insanity (O’Brien, 252-263).  By the same token the secrecy also brilliantly expresses O’Brien’s theme of young women who inherently strive to escape the confines of their upbringing only to meet with calamity from which they never seem to recover.

O’Brien’s style envelopes the qualities of fairytales but in reverse. Instead of the young girl meeting her prince and living happily ever after, she is typically exiled to a life that she ardently tries to escape.  “A Scandalous Woman,” incorporates this quality not only through Eily’s experiences but also through the subtle use of metaphor and cliché.  The inclusion of dogs in the story serves to accentuate the conditions in which women live as well as foreshadows the trouble the girls incur from Eily’s downfall.  Careful analysis renders the discovery of cliché in the “mother’s warning,” “It was all too good to be true” ( O’Brien, 247). Furthermore, it delineates women’s relations to one another as overcome with competitiveness and jealousy.  This is best exemplified in the sister, Nuala, who the narrator describes as “happiest when someone was upset” (O’Brien, 241).  Clearly the cliché here is “misery loves company.”

O’Brien is to be celebrated for successfully capturing the essence of life in a rural community by delicately weaving small town cultural traits such as gossip and meddling into the story which gives the feeling that the reader is actually there.  More importantly, she triumphantly demonstrates the seriousness of violating a code of silence in that while it is detrimental for a woman to step outside the boundaries society has laid for them, it is much worse to admit to the deed itself. Although Eily denied her love affair with the bank clerk to the bitter end, it was her own body, not the narrator who betrayed her. Conclusively, the misdeeds one commits are known but to talk about them is taboo.