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Thread: Felice Charmond (The Woodlanders)

  1. #1
    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Apr 2012
    Reading, England

    Felice Charmond (The Woodlanders)

    Felice Charmond amuses me. She's an upper class, vain, shallow, spoilt vamp. I can imagine her being acted by a young Maggie Smith or Vanessa Redgrave. She's a sort of stock, comedic character now, but maybe she wasn't when Hardy started writing her in 1885.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

  2. #2
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    Oct 2012
    Kev, everything you said about Felice C. is on target. Particularly in Woodlanders Hardy has more passion for describing the plants, the typography and man traps than developing the characters. He depicts his characters in a minimalistic way luring readers to fill out the third dimension as they choose, perhaps using examples of people they've known.

    I understood Felice C. as an attractive woman lifted by wealth into freedom to go and do whatever she might wish to do. This freedom puts her well out of her comfort zone, as it would most of us. But, adding to her discomfort is her absence of substance leading to a hopeless search for meaning in her life. Whether she's in Little Hintock or traveling, she's seeking experiences and stimuli for the sensation of living. She focuses on men like Fitzpiers to provide both. She really not a cruel person, one who finds pleasure by inflicting pain on others, but she is the source of pain to others in being lost to herself and uncaring to anyone but herself.

    Hardy likes to include characters in his stories that are opposites. This seems a way for him to describe his characters without having to do so directly. At first face Grace might be seen as Felice's opposite, but Marty might be even better. Grace has been confused about her place in Little Hintock and in the lives of folks around her. She spends most of the novel needing to choose her path and place but his hindered by passivity and her domineering father. Marty knows herself, her place and what she loves. Marty's as solid as rock.

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