Thursday, May 13, 2010
The Sylph, Letters 15-23
We are finally introduced to the character in which the book is named after, the Sylph. He enters Julia’s life in the form of a mysterious letter offering advice and comfort in the environment that Julia is still so very uncomfortable in. He also warns her to be wary of the men she is frequently in the presence of, particularly Lord Biddluph. Both Julia and her sister welcome the guardian angel’s presence.
Julia writes again in a state of distress after finding a letter to Lord Stanley from Lucy Gardiner. Lucy’s letter reveals that Lord Stanley is also having an affair with the very woman he put Julia in the protection of, Lady Anne. The letter goes on to reveal that Lucy left Lord Biddluph to be with Sir William and Julia keenly notes that this makes Lord Biddluph eager for revenge.
To ease her stress, Julia begins a fondness for gambling and writes to her sister to tell her of a victorious comeback in a card game. She receives another letter from the Sylph warning her of the dangers of gambling and as a further example tells the story of a Lady D- who was blackmailed into sleeping with Lord L- to repay her gambling losses.
In the meantime Sir William admits his debts to Julia and she signs over marital assets to him. Lord Biddluph writes to Colonel Montague to complain that Julia suddenly had no interest in playing cards.
Susan R. was correct! Sir William cannot handle a woman in his own set. Although Lucy is not a member of the ton per se, she obviously has a lot of experience with spending time with them and ahem knowing their ways.
The Georgiana Connection
One of the means that The Sylph could be identified to be Georgiana’s work was also one of the reasons for its popularity. Just like Richard Sheridan’s play, The School for Scandal, fans amused themselves by trying to pick out which notorious celebrity was represented in each character. Lady Besford may not have a large role in The Sylph but it is likely that she take upon the characteristics of Georgiana’s close friend and mentor, Lady Melbourne. Lady Melbourne was also known to be frank yet graceful, and carried on many affairs, but wasn’t as sloppy in them as other young aristocrats. In fact she remained on amiable terms with many of her old lovers.
Lady Anne Parker, the real jerk of the two companions, without a doubt in my mind is the insufferable Lady Jersey. This vindictive lass was known to be cruel to her friends for the fun of it, which is what Lady Anne did to Julia by purposely inviting her to an opera, knowing Lord Stanley would be there with his mistress. Lady Jersey had an affair with the Duke of Devonshire and made no secret of it to Georgiana and this was also incorporated into the novel with Lady Anne’s affair with Lord Stanley.
Georgiana was always searching for helpful advice to guide her into making the correct decisions. Her mother was her chief adviser although Georgiana would have probably liked to have a more neutral adviser such as the Sylph. In her letters to her mother there is always a tone of insecurity and apprehension in her actions.
How do you feel about Julia’s latest decisions? There were many in these letters which she faced. Should she have confronted her husband about the letter, perhaps tried gambling a little more, or even refused to sign over what little assets she had?