Sunday, 19 February 2006

Heyeroines in need of a slap

19. Horatia Winwood (The Convenient Marriage)

The youngest Miss Winwood manages to commit so many social solecisms that it would hardly be a surprise if most of the upper ten thousand were crying out for a chance to slap the girl. Horry is, however, a Winwood, and if she has little else, she has the Nose. For this alone one must inevitably forgive her much.

But not everything. There are some things, and one in particular, that are beyond the power of a single nose - or indeed any number of noses - to remedy.

With no money to their name, the females of the Winwood family must base their not Ainconsiderable reputations upon less tangible things. among the most precious of these is the ability, and indeed willingness, to Talk with Capital Letters. As one might expect, it is Lady Winwood who is most expert at this. When she says that her Days are Numbered, one can readily believe that they have not merely been counted, but individually signed for, wrapped, stamped and secured with the sort of seal that one finds only in the more anagogical parts of the Bible.

Lady Winwood's two oldest daughters are similarly skilled, able to deploy Cassandra-like prophecies of doom in the face of even the most minor of domestic mishaps. This is the sort of social skill that is beyond price, without which no Grande Dame can have any pretensions to Grandeur. Even their otherwise unremarkable cousin, Mrs Maulfrey, is able to endow such a word as Settlements with a sonority beyond its real significance.

Miss Horatia Winwood, on the other hand, seems utterly uninclined to indulge in any such utterances. Indeed it is hard to find evidence of her Uttering anything at all. Even her interjections - typically "Stuff" and "Pho" - have their capitalisation subverted by Horry's stammer(not that the stammer itself is to be condemned - indeed one might come to like it, along with the eyebrows and, of course, the Nose). Such is her blasé attitude towards life that she cannot be bothered even to think in terms of Scandals and Scrapes, choosing instead to admit to mere scandals and scrapes. Is this Behaviour Befitting a Countess? I am sure that it is not only I who thinks not.

A Winwood who does not Capitalise her Speech is, one might feel, hardly a Winwood at all, and one who, when kissed, not gently at all, but ruthlessly, crushing all the breath out of her body, merely observes that she never knew that her husband could kiss like that, rather than perhaps falling into a Swoon, or Fainting Dead Away, clearly needs to Buck Up her Ideas.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I hate this heroine! She is so silly and insipid. How did she ever manage to become a countess?