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Monday, April 25, 2011

Love According to Lady Waldemar

Lady Colin Campbell (1897) by Giovanni Boldini

Lady Waldemar visits Aurora to declare her love for the latter's cousin, a weird declaration considering Lady Waldemar and Aurora have never met.  Lady Waldemar is a rich widow, the opposite of what Romney seeks, and hopes to convince Aurora to discourage the impending marriage between Romney and the poor and abandoned Marian.  Forgetting the element of love, Lady Waldemar schemes to marry Romney because she feels that he has an obligation to marry someone from his social class.

Despite her declarations, Lady Waldemar never convinces neither Aurora nor the reader that she loves Romney.  She uses words like "vile," "acrid," and "coarse" to describe love, causing Aurora to contradict her sentiments by calling love a sacred thing.

Apologise for atheism, not love!
For, me, I do believe in love, and God (Book III, 477-8).

Lady Waldemar's aversion to love extends to an aversion of Romney, whom she calls "a monster" (511) because of his preference for lower class women.  Social issues are not of importance to her and she mocks Romney's beliefs:

If you do not starve, or sin,
You're nothing to him (565-6).

And, despite reading socialist literature, listening to Romney's speeches in the Commons, and dressing like a poor woman, all of which acts she will not sustain if married to Romney, she barely attracts Romney's attention.  Obviously, if she opposes love and Romney's views, and she is already rich, there is another motive behind her scheme to marry Romney.  Her opposition to Romney's views could play a major role in her scheme.

Furthermore, Lady Waldemar treats love as something to which she must reluctantly submit.  Characterized as a sin that has overtaken her, love entices Lady Waldemar and she is willing to indulge.  Describing women of her class, she states:

we have hearts within,
Warm, live, improvident, indecent hearts,
As ready for distracted ends and acts
As any distressed sempstress of them all
That Romney groans and toils for (461-5).

These women, including Lady Waldemar herself, yield to these desires that paint love as an unholy thing.  Similarly, Lady Waldemar views love as a fever to which she has succumbed and can't remedy:

We catch love
And other fevers, in the vulgar way.
Love will not be outwitted by our wit,
Nor outrun by our equipages:–mine
Persisted, spite of efforts (465-9).

Lady Waldemar has no control over her love and might as well be under the influence of a medium.

All my cards
Turned up but Romney Leigh (469-70).

Lady Waldemar has no choice but to "love" Romney because it is her fate, which is connected to her belonging to Romney's class.

Ultimately, Aurora recognizes her love as false, saying "your love's curable" (709).  Lady Waldemar does not love Romney but feels obligated to marry him to prevent him from marrying below himself.  She does not believe in love but believes in duty.

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