Tag Archives: love

Tree metaphor

Blossoming pear tree ~ “It had called her to come and gaze on a mystery. From barren brown stems to glistening leaf-buds; from the leaf-buds to snowy virginity of bloom. It stirred her tremendously…She was stretched on her back beneath the pear tree soaking in the alto chant of the visiting bees, the gold of the sign and the panting breath of the breeze when the inaudible voice of it all came to her. She saw the dust-baring bee sink into the sanctum of the bloom; the thousand sister-calyxes arch to meet the love and embrace in the ecstatic shiver of the tree from root to tiniest branch creaming in every blossom and frothing with delight. So this was a marriage!” Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. New York: First Perennial Classics, 1998. Print. (pg.10-11).
“It was a lonesome place like a stump in the middle of the woods where nobody had ever been. The house was absent of flavor, too. But anyhow Janie went on inside wait for love to begin” (pg. 21-22).
The contrast between the glorious bloom of adolescence and the lonely tree stump of marriage ~ a metaphor of lust and love. Janie is ruled by these feelings.

Happiness is this, he thought.

“Indeed his own life was a miracle; let him make no mistake about it; here he was in the prime of his life, walking to his house in Westminster to tell Clarissa that he loved her. Happiness is this, he thought.” Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. San Francisco: Harcourt Inc., 1981. Print. (117)

“For he would say it in so many words, when he came into the room. Because it is a thousand pities never to say what one feels” (116).

“But he could not bring himself to say he loved her; not in so many words” (118).

I found this passage (pp 115-119) to be moving and yet frustrating. Richard Dalloway has been struck with the realization that he loves his wife, that his life and love are a miracle. “Happiness is this, he thought” is repeated several times in the passage. Yet time has passed and time keeps passing (Big Ben) and this epihany gets lost in time, lost in life, and he never expresses it. It seems to be meaning and purpose, yet so elusive and taken for granted.

Unrequited Love

“She looked at Peter Walsh; her look, passing through all that time and that emotion, reached him doubtfully; settled on him tearfully; and rose and fluttered away, as a bird touches a branch and rises and flutters away. Quite simply she wiped her eyes”(43).

Notes: Peter’s love for Clarissa, wasted life, tortured emotions

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. San Diego: Harcourt, 1925. Print.





Complex Development

“Melanctha Herbert had not loved herself in childhood. All of her youth was bitter to remember.” (50)

“And Melanctha loved him for it always, her Jeff Campbell now, who never did things ugly, for her, like all the men she always knew before always had been going to her.” (90)

Stein, Gertrude. ” Melanctha” Three Lives.  Mineola: Dover, 1994.  50-90. Print


In Melanctha, the first part of work focuses on her childhood, and how this would shape her into the women described as the book goes on. The first quote sums up that section rather well. It states that she had a bad childhood, from a mean father, to misleading friends. What is interesting is the second quote. She say ‘all the men she always knew before…’, which references her father and the men she interacted with prior to meeting Jeff. This is important because the first quote reminds us that Melanctha did not have a great childhood, one that she tries to block out. Yet, Jeff Campbell is so good to her, that when she does look back at the dark time in her life, she clearly sees she has something better. After keeping to herself, she is willing to open up to this young man. It is the idea that as the book develops, so does the complex protagonist.

Another Beast of a Love Story

“Oh I know all about the ways of doing Dr. Campbell, but that certainly ain’t the kind of love I mean when I am talking. I mean real strong, hot love Dr. Campbell, that makes you do anything for somebody that loves you.” Stein, Gertrude. Three Lives. “Melanctha.” Dover Publications, New York, 1994. pg.70.

“One kind of loving seems to me is like one has a good quiet feeling in a family when one does his work, and is always living good and being regular, and the other way of loving is just like having it like any animal that’s low in the streets together, and that doesn’t seem to me very good.” pg 71.

Having read to page 76 ~ Stein juxtaposes two opposing definitions of love through Melanctha and Dr. Campbell. Melanctha only knows physical love from her past and feels it is what makes a real connection between two people, passion and physical intimacy. It gives her power. Campbell sees love as a mental connection, a friendship. He is disgusted by the idea of physical lust. Their budding relationship makes me thing of Marcher and May’s relationship and the different expectations and beliefs one has about what love should be, what kind of love they are capable of. Stein’s characters all have their own definitions of love and act on them in different ways. If love is the meaning of life, it is hard to find someone who shares the same definition or to classify one as right or one as wrong. Stein explores all degrees of love.

May and Marcher

What it had come to was that he wore a mask painted with the soclal simper, out of the eyeholes of which there looked eyes of an expression not in the least matching the other features. This the stupid world, even after years, had never more than half discovered. It was only May Bartram who had, and she achieved, by an art indescribable, the feat of at once—or perhaps it was only alternately—meeting the eyes from in front and mingling her own vision, as from over his shoulder, with their peep through the apertures.”

Henry James, “The Beast in the Jungle”, in Major Stories & Essays, Library of America College Editions, 1999), p459-460

Notes: James, relationships, love, society, identity, alliteration

A mask and a shell

“What it had come to was that he wore a mask painted with the social simper, out of the eyeholes of which there looked eyes of an expression not in the least matching the other features.” James, Henry. Major Stories and Essays. New York: Library of America, 1999. pg 459. I see Marcher as hollow and empty ~ a mask not as a disguise but as a cover for a shell.

“Isn’t what you describe perhaps but the expectation-or, at any rate, the sense of danger, familiar to so many people-of falling in love?” James, Henry. pg 453. Marcher feels he is destined for something bigger than falling in love and he doesn’t realize that is the biggest thing of all.

It’s not awkward until someone says it’s awkward (The Beast in the Jungle)

It was in the way the autumn day looked into the high windows as it wanted; in the way the red light, breaking at the close from under a low, sombre, sky, reached out in a long shaft and played over old wainscots, old tapestry, old gold, old colour (447).

The thing to be, with the one person who knew, was easy and natural -to make the reference rather than be seeming to avoid it, to avoid it rather than be seeming to make it, and to keep it, in any case, familiar, facetious even, rather than pedantic and portentous (458).

Notes: What is it that he told her? I’m really intrigued. A lot of poetic devices have been used.

Henry James, “The Beast in the Jungle”, in Major Stories and Essays (First Library of America College Edition, Fall 1999), 447-458