"I Suppose You'll Marry Some Day, Avis," Remarked Pearston, Regarding Her Thoughtfully
Walter Paget (1863-1935)
18 cm by 23.4 cm
Illustrated London News (5 November 1892): 611.
Scene from Chapter XX, "A Homely Medium Does Not Dull The Image" (p. 610, top of the third column) in Thomas Hardy's The Pursuit of The Well-Beloved: A Sketch of a Temperament. Scanned image, caption, and commentary by Philip V. Allingham. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. ]
To assist Avice escape temporarily from the isle, Jocelyn offers her employment as a maid in his new London flat. However, returning unexpectedly, the sculptor finds that his servants have been into his wine cellar and have decamped without notice, so that Avice becomes all the full-time domestic servants he employs, her cleaning supplemented only by the sporadic assistance of a charwoman. However, she enjoys cooking and cleaning the black dust of Jocelyn's "clay people" (610) as she terms them. Jocelyn has still not given up the notion of "refining" her and then marrying her, but her noncommital response here is not encouraging. As the episode ends, she has termed his proposing marriage to her "nonsense" (611), and, in trying to break free of his hold on her, has knocked down his study of the Empress Faustina's head (which Paget has placed prominently in the centre, on a small table behind a uniformed Avice as she dusts). Inadvertently, he has revealed that her mother once took such a proposal seriously. How will she respond to the information -- will she rightly concluded that Jocelyn was the nameless suitor who jilted her mother?
The wicker chair and oriental screen establish the eclectic style of furnishing and informality of the sculptor's studio. The bust of the Empress Faustina, dominating the field between the seated Jocelyn and the standing maid, may be intended by both author and illustrator of Marcia Bencomb, who has probably served as the original of all of the sculptor's imperious females and who (if still alive), as Jocelyn's first wife, legally prohibits him from marrying his current Well-Beloved. The juxtapositions of the figure sitting and the one standing suggest power and control, but are deceptive, for shortly Jocelyn's still-adolescent emotions will cause him to lose all rational control, to grab Avice, and to propose marriage.
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Hardy, Thomas. The Pursuit of the Well-Beloved: A Sketch of a Temperament. The Illustrated London News, 8 October--17 December, 1892. Pp. 426-775.
Hardy, Thomas. The Well-Beloved with The Pursuit of the Well-Beloved (1892). Ware, Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Classics, 2000.
"The Highland Company of the Edinburgh Volunteer Rifles--See Supplement, Page 424." The Illustrated London News, 29 October 1859, p. 419.
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Last modified 7 August 2002