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ELee
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Re: THEMES: Characters/Teddy


bookhunter wrote:
SPOILERS IF YOU HAVEN'T FINISHED!!!


What do you all think of Teddy?

Over in the secrets thread there has been speculation that he was gay, but even beyond that, what do y'all think? To me, he is the character that is the most misunderstood!

I don't think he is mean or overbearing towards Hannah, or that he misrepresented him self. When they met, he seemed to be a perfect "match" (if there COULD be) for Hannah. He shows affection towards her like kissing her on the top of her head, speaks kindly to her, encourages her in "wifely" things...He is clueless to her discontent, but is that totally his fault? There were probably clues he could have picked up on, but I don't think Hannah ever expressed her desires.

He could have been disappointed that his dreams didn't work out like Frederick and Hannah, but he seems to plug along and seems fine working with his father. Overall, he gives the impression of being satisfied whith what life has dealt him. that is an admirable quality to me.

(But then again...maybe that was because he had a secret lover that was keeping him happy!)

Ann, bookhunter



Teddy was clueless about not only "wifely" things, but womanly or female things in general. Initially, I think the novelty for him was that a woman like Hannah could be attracted to him. In a sense his pursuit of her seemed to be based more on how it affected/reflected on him, than any emotion he may have felt for Hannah. I really think they both kind of "talked themselves into it" - neither was really for or against, so they just went the way the wind blows. Getting back to "clueless about women", I was particularly aware of how he was led by his parents and Deborah in dealing with what his wife should and shouldn't do. Even though Deborah was living with them (until she found an apartment? yeah, sure), Hannah was still the wife of Teddy and should not have been subjected to Deborah overly influencing Teddy in any decisions. He struck me as thinking "now I have her, what do I do with her?" most of the time. It's not that I dislike him, he's just not really "there", if you know what I mean.
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paula_02912
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Re: THEMES: Characters

Katelyn wrote: "I think it is interesting that this character has a name similar to the author. I think this shows that the author has sympathy for Katie even thought the author is a very cwell respected and not in a similar position. In a sense we are all Katie anytime we are misinterpreted and slighted out of snobby social usages."

Katelyn, I didn't even think about the fact that Katie's name was similar to that of the author...maybe she represented the a different side of Grace too...like her she was unseen, but relegated to the bottom rung of the servant ladder...however, I think that mabye Katie represented the person Grace might have been, if she wasn't Frederick's daughter...just another servant in the house...Katie, must have learned a lot of secrets herself because when she is present, you really don't know she is there...another difference between her and Grace is that Grace had the freedom to go between the upstairs and downstairs...
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Re: THEMES: Characters/Teddy

Ann wrote: "What do you all think of Teddy?"

Ann, I think Teddy's character was a good foil to Hannah's...they in essence were a perfect match...I felt that he was similar to her in his own ways....like her he felt the need to adhere to his father's will, though he appeared to accept what he wanted...As I read his character from the first meeting, I got the sense that he too wanted to escape, find adventure, have true independence and the freedom to do what he liked...I think that Teddy really didn't love Hannah...he treated her more like a child than anything...I also believe he married her because his father forced the issue...they needed the status that the Hartford name would afford them...it was just a business deal that would benefit both families...Frederick would get the money he needed, and Mr. Simion Luxton (Teddy's dad) could move up to a higher tier in the societal ladder of the day by being linked to the Hartfords...he was a British expat, of the gentry, but I suspect that he wasn't on the same level as the Hartfords, who wanted to be a member of the aristocracy, so he pushed Teddy to propose to Hannah...I also think that marrying Hannah was just his way of getting out from under his father's thumb...I asked myself, was he really "rescueing" (sp?) her like he did the day he they went for a ride and he fell into the lake while retrieving her locket? I also believe that Hannah was smarter than Teddy in many ways, and she seemed more worldly despite the fact that she never travelled anywhere until their marriage...
Peace and love,
Paula R.

"Adversity causes some people to break, but causes others to break records."

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Re: THEMES: Characters/Teddy



paula_02912 wrote:
Ann wrote: "What do you all think of Teddy?"

Ann, I think Teddy's character was a good foil to Hannah's...they in essence were a perfect match...I felt that he was similar to her in his own ways....like her he felt the need to adhere to his father's will, though he appeared to accept what he wanted...As I read his character from the first meeting, I got the sense that he too wanted to escape, find adventure, have true independence and the freedom to do what he liked...I think that Teddy really didn't love Hannah...he treated her more like a child than anything...I also believe he married her because his father forced the issue...they needed the status that the Hartford name would afford them...it was just a business deal that would benefit both families...Frederick would get the money he needed, and Mr. Simion Luxton (Teddy's dad) could move up to a higher tier in the societal ladder of the day by being linked to the Hartfords...he was a British expat, of the gentry, but I suspect that he wasn't on the same level as the Hartfords, who wanted to be a member of the aristocracy, so he pushed Teddy to propose to Hannah...I also think that marrying Hannah was just his way of getting out from under his father's thumb...I asked myself, was he really "rescueing" (sp?) her like he did the day he they went for a ride and he fell into the lake while retrieving her locket? I also believe that Hannah was smarter than Teddy in many ways, and she seemed more worldly despite the fact that she never travelled anywhere until their marriage...




I like what all of you are saying about Teddy - he was a very interesting character to me. What really struck me about him is that when we meet him at the beginning dinner, he seems to have different ideals than his father - you get the sense that he really wants to believe in something else. But, his father is a strong figure who can bend him. I think that if Hannah were stronger, than she and Teddy could have been good together - he would have had someone who beleived some of the things he did and would have faced his father with him. But, both were weak and did not compliment each other in this area. Instead of "joining forces" against Deborah, his father, etc, their combined weak wills and desire to please others rather than enjoy what they wanted and believed, made for a weaker pair - it would have been interesting to see what would have happened to Teddy if he had fallen for a stronger woman - would he have become so like his family?

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KxBurns
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Re: THEMES: Characters/Teddy



paula_02912 wrote:
Ann wrote: "What do you all think of Teddy?"

Ann, I think Teddy's character was a good foil to Hannah's...they in essence were a perfect match...I felt that he was similar to her in his own ways....like her he felt the need to adhere to his father's will, though he appeared to accept what he wanted...As I read his character from the first meeting, I got the sense that he too wanted to escape, find adventure, have true independence and the freedom to do what he liked...



I agree with your juxtaposition of Teddy and Hannah. Teddy was able to adjust his expectations from life to live within the status quo, while Hannah continued to struggle against the expectations placed on her. She never found a way to be happy but Teddy seemed to be able to shut out his desires for more and accept what was there. Just as he never questioned Hannah's happiness, he probably never really questioned his own.
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Re: THEMES: Characters



Everyman wrote:
I had a different take on Frederick. I found him an unpleasant man for several reasons. First, I never like parents who openly favor one child over another.




I'm not disagreeing entirely with your assessment of Frederick, but in regard to your first point, that's how he was raised, too! And in his case, with only two sons and one so clearly favored, it must have been particularly crushing.

I do feel that he's a tragic figure, since his misery was largely of his own making, as some of you have pointed out. It seemed clear enough to me that he loved his children - I think of his reaction to the play as one example. Of course, he could have treated his other child, Grace a little better...

I didn't find him particularly noble or kind but for some reason I didn't dislike him terribly. Mostly, I felt I would have liked to know more about his point of view.

And I would have loved to read part of the story from Emmeline's perspective. I thought her character was charismatic.
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Re: THEMES: Characters/

When I consider all the characters, it seems to me that Kate Morton is much better at portraying female than male characters. This isn't, I think, just because the primary characters in the book are female. Even the lesser female characters seem to me more "real" than the male characters. They females seem to have personality, characteristics, presence. The male characters seem to me more formless, less sharply drawn, less separately identifiable.
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Re: THEMES: Characters/


Everyman wrote:
When I consider all the characters, it seems to me that Kate Morton is much better at portraying female than male characters. This isn't, I think, just because the primary characters in the book are female. Even the lesser female characters seem to me more "real" than the male characters. They females seem to have personality, characteristics, presence. The male characters seem to me more formless, less sharply drawn, less separately identifiable.




I agree. The male characters all seemed more like foils. They had little personality themselves but rather seemed to represent either some obstacle or some of opportunity for the women characters.
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an action but a habit." -Aristotle
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Re: THEMES: Characters/Teddy



bookhunter wrote:
SPOILERS IF YOU HAVEN'T FINISHED!!!


What do you all think of Teddy?

Over in the secrets thread there has been speculation that he was gay, but even beyond that, what do y'all think? To me, he is the character that is the most misunderstood!

I don't think he is mean or overbearing towards Hannah, or that he misrepresented him self. When they met, he seemed to be a perfect "match" (if there COULD be) for Hannah. He shows affection towards her like kissing her on the top of her head, speaks kindly to her, encourages her in "wifely" things...He is clueless to her discontent, but is that totally his fault? There were probably clues he could have picked up on, but I don't think Hannah ever expressed her desires.

He could have been disappointed that his dreams didn't work out like Frederick and Hannah, but he seems to plug along and seems fine working with his father. Overall, he gives the impression of being satisfied whith what life has dealt him. that is an admirable quality to me.

(But then again...maybe that was because he had a secret lover that was keeping him happy!)

Ann, bookhunter




Ann,
I never thought too much about Teddy, I always felt like he was on the sidelines. I don't feel that he was supposed to be anything but a means to an end. Just my opinion
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Re: THEMES: Characters - Frederick

(SPOILERS in the text that follows.)

One of the puzzling relationships in HAR for me was Grace's mother's on-going relationship with the "big house." Is there any chance she continued to have some contact with Frederick? (Main clue: his appearance in the background at her funeral, but, also, despite her sister, she led a pretty solitary life within the village. Was another person supposed to be present at the visit in the parlor?) Did he, perhaps in conjunction with his mother and Mr. Hamilton, authorize the ongoing stream of food et al from Riverton? It never made sense to me that Mrs. Townsend took that initiative entirely on herself in a tightly run household, which Riverton seemed to be early in the novel. Had Frederick put away the money to which Hannah eventually gave Grace access and, since they had been close at one point, what knowledge had they shared?


KxBurns wrote:

Everyman wrote:
I had a different take on Frederick. I found him an unpleasant man for several reasons. First, I never like parents who openly favor one child over another.
I'm not disagreeing entirely with your assessment of Frederick, but in regard to your first point, that's how he was raised, too! And in his case, with only two sons and one so clearly favored, it must have been particularly crushing.

I do feel that he's a tragic figure, since his misery was largely of his own making, as some of you have pointed out. It seemed clear enough to me that he loved his children - I think of his reaction to the play as one example. Of course, he could have treated his other child, Grace a little better...

I didn't find him particularly noble or kind but for some reason I didn't dislike him terribly. Mostly, I felt I would have liked to know more about his point of view.

And I would have loved to read part of the story from Emmeline's perspective. I thought her character was charismatic.
"Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here." -- Leo Tolstoy
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Re: THEMES: Characters/Teddy

Personally, I didn't like Teddy. I thought he was a mama's boy pushed around by the whole family. I detested his treatment of Florence when she was born. Yes, she wasn't his and it was obvious, but couldn't they still have embraced her as part of the family and raised her as such? Yes, she probably had a much better life having gone to Jemima, but I am still unhappy about how the Luxton's treated the whole thing.
~Grace~
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Re: THEMES: Characters



rstjm4 wrote:
I actually liked all the characters in the book. I felt the most sorry for Emmeline. She was sort of left behind and was a bit naive about life. She didn't really fit in to her family, I wonder if this is the result of her mother dying in birth or something else? I felt bad for her at the end.



I wondered about Frederick's having made Hannah a "favorite" child. If he had dallied with Grace's mum, it would have been shortly after Hannah was conceived or born as they are very close in age. Would Penelope perhaps have strayed also when Frederick did? Could Emme perhaps not be Frederick's daughter at all? He certainly doesn't seem to hold the same affection for her as David and Hannah.
~Grace~
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Re: THEMES: Characters/Teddy



ezraSid wrote:
Personally, I didn't like Teddy. I thought he was a mama's boy pushed around by the whole family. I detested his treatment of Florence when she was born. Yes, she wasn't his and it was obvious, but couldn't they still have embraced her as part of the family and raised her as such? Yes, she probably had a much better life having gone to Jemima, but I am still unhappy about how the Luxton's treated the whole thing.



In a perfect world you'd be right, but look at the family that we're talking about. Do you really think Teddy would have been happy having the proof of his wife's affair right there in front of his face for all times. I think it was best stated on Page 441 "Teddy could hardly be expected to keep her: a constant reminder of his cuckolding. The Luxtons all agreed i was best he put the whole sorry affair behind him. Settle down to running Riverton Manor, staging his political comeback."
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Re: THEMES: Characters



nperrin wrote:
Myself, I would have liked to have learned more about Alfred. Grace loves him but we never really get close. The fact that Grace ended up with him in the end for twenty years made me even more hungry to know him. What is Grace's life partner like? This is someone she knew both before and after the events of the story, and a wrenching life change like that usually makes it impossible to continue relationships from people that knew you when. How did the two of them end up coping with his war experiences in the end, especially considering how badly this went for Hannah and Robbie?




I completely agree. At first I had a hard time relating to Grace because I didn't know much about Alfred or what he was like. Later, when we find out that they ended up together, I felt like I was missing something. If they had trouble seeing eye-to-eye to begin with, how did they manage it forty years later? Did Grace never tell him about what happened with Hannah & Robbie? The fact that they did end up together says a lot about Grace & how much she changed after Robbie's death, but I feel like it would have been more satisfying to know a little bit more about Alfred.
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Re: THEMES: Characters/Teddy



paula_02912 wrote:
Ann wrote: "What do you all think of Teddy?"

Ann, I think Teddy's character was a good foil to Hannah's...they in essence were a perfect match...I felt that he was similar to her in his own ways....like her he felt the need to adhere to his father's will, though he appeared to accept what he wanted...As I read his character from the first meeting, I got the sense that he too wanted to escape, find adventure, have true independence and the freedom to do what he liked...I think that Teddy really didn't love Hannah...he treated her more like a child than anything...I also believe he married her because his father forced the issue...they needed the status that the Hartford name would afford them...it was just a business deal that would benefit both families...Frederick would get the money he needed, and Mr. Simion Luxton (Teddy's dad) could move up to a higher tier in the societal ladder of the day by being linked to the Hartfords...he was a British expat, of the gentry, but I suspect that he wasn't on the same level as the Hartfords, who wanted to be a member of the aristocracy, so he pushed Teddy to propose to Hannah...I also think that marrying Hannah was just his way of getting out from under his father's thumb...I asked myself, was he really "rescueing" (sp?) her like he did the day he they went for a ride and he fell into the lake while retrieving her locket? I also believe that Hannah was smarter than Teddy in many ways, and she seemed more worldly despite the fact that she never travelled anywhere until their marriage...




I always felt that Teddy's father and Hannah's grandmother and Fanny influenced Teddy and Hannah to marry. I do not think either loved the other. It was definitely a setup in my mine.
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Re: THEMES: Characters/Teddy





I like what all of you are saying about Teddy - he was a very interesting character to me. What really struck me about him is that when we meet him at the beginning dinner, he seems to have different ideals than his father - you get the sense that he really wants to believe in something else. But, his father is a strong figure who can bend him. I think that if Hannah were stronger, than she and Teddy could have been good together - he would have had someone who beleived some of the things he did and would have faced his father with him. But, both were weak and did not compliment each other in this area. Instead of "joining forces" against Deborah, his father, etc, their combined weak wills and desire to please others rather than enjoy what they wanted and believed, made for a weaker pair - it would have been interesting to see what would have happened to Teddy if he had fallen for a stronger woman - would he have become so like his family?

Shelby




I agree with you. Yes, it would have been great if Teddy's father had not had so much influence on him. I felt no love between them either.
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Re: THEMES: Characters/



Iulievich wrote:

Everyman wrote:
When I consider all the characters, it seems to me that Kate Morton is much better at portraying female than male characters. This isn't, I think, just because the primary characters in the book are female. Even the lesser female characters seem to me more "real" than the male characters. They females seem to have personality, characteristics, presence. The male characters seem to me more formless, less sharply drawn, less separately identifiable.




I agree. The male characters all seemed more like foils. They had little personality themselves but rather seemed to represent either some obstacle or some of opportunity for the women characters.




You are right, but its the kind of story Kate was telling. The male character is not as developed but then she is writing this book about women specically since Grace is the main character . So I would go as far as to call it a woman's story. The man has less need to be a developed character. Or maybe its about weaker men in general.....
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Re: THEMES: Characters/

[ Edited ]

kiakar wrote:
You are right, but its the kind of story Kate was telling. The male character is not as developed but then she is writing this book about women specically since Grace is the main character . So I would go as far as to call it a woman's story. The man has less need to be a developed character. Or maybe its about weaker men in general.....




Well, maybe so, but it seems a shame to leave any category of characters in such a one-dimensional state. It is as if Kate Morton's world contains real people of only one gender. It also seems a shame so to limit the appeal of the book. Although I was at first deeply interested in making out the inner workings of the various characters, I find that the more I do so, the more I am reassessing downward my original opinion of the work.

Perhaps some of this has to do with the "Questions to the Author" thread, as well.

Message Edited by Iulievich on 01-18-2008 10:09 PM
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Re: THEMES: Characters

[ Edited ]
THOUGHTS ON FREDERICK HARTFORD:

Frederick is the most nearly multi-dimensional male character in the book. But the more I have considered him, the less he has seemed so. He is more like some sort of abstract force or societal construct which the female characters either use or struggle against as they pursue their own ends.

In the end, I see him as a very unattractive character. A sort of well-bred self-absorbed cretin.

Consider the following:
1. He is the younger son of an aristocratic family, overshadowed by his older brother who will not only inherit but who is successful in the military, from which Frederick is barred by a physical problem.

2. Unable to follow his brother into the military, he has chosen the unconventional path of going into business, like a commoner, rather than to pursue a career in the clergy, the diplomatic service, or some other service that would have been deemed more suitable by his Edwardian peers. Morton herself offers no indication within the story of the social significance of this in that place and time, but it would have been a very large issue in a family like that of the Hartfords. Such a decision would have been demeaning to his parents and his lineage in Edwardian England. In the end, he is unsuccessful even in business and loses the family fortune.

3. He is completely selfish and self-absorbed. He has cheated on his wife -- very likely while she was pregnant with Hannah. Although extramarital affairs were extremely common in the era, discretion was always a watchword. Frederick's affair was with a domestic servant in his own parents' home, not only inviting scandal but disrupting their household and wrecking the future of Grace's mother whose subordinate station he undoubtedly exploited. He is detached from his children; though Hannah is his favorite, we certainly do not see any indication of special fatherly concern, and it is apparent that Emmeline is all but forgotten by him. When first David and then Hannah defy him, he cuts himself off from them and is never reconciled. In his business, he is willing to sacrifice his family and his inheritance rather than adapt his way of doing things to economic requirements as reasonably suggested by Teddy Luxton's father and his bankers. He ends his life with the ultimate selfish demand for attention, suicide.

4. He certainly has no contact with his illegitimate daughter. Whatever young Grace receives from the Hartfords appears to come by way of Frederick's mother and father. (Remember Grace's mother telling little Grace that she would get along well at Riverton and that Lord Ashbury and Lady Violet were not bad people? It suggests that it was they rather than Frederick who may have helped her financially and promised a position for Grace. The position, at least, was within their purview and not Frederick's.) When Frederick sees her in his parents' household, his reaction seems to me more like that of a man who would rather she not have been there. When Hannah announces her intention to take Grace with her into her new life with Teddy, Frederick clearly states that she is welcome to Grace and that he has no need of her. The last part of that statement I read as contemptuous toward Grace -- a sort of "good riddance."

5. Although we all seem to have assumed that Grace's mother was perhaps the love of Frederick's life, is it not equally possible that he had used her abominably with embarassing results for which he took no responsibility, and that he stood on the hill overlooking the funeral merely as a way to write finis to an awkward and embarassing consequence of thoughtless indescretion? I do not see the man as capable of love. (But then again, I really do not see any of Morton's male characters as being capable of it.) Some readers have speculated that Grace's mother had their cottage fixed up for another visitor because Frederick was coming. I find that extremely hard to believe given everything else. It is even possible that Grace simply did not recognize that it had been set up for her!
All of the unexplained loose ends can be a device for drawing the reader into the story more deeply by giving clues rather than information about the characters. But sometimes -- as in the case of the unidentified visitor -- there just aren't enough clues to make heads or tales of it. Perhaps, in the end, the only reason that Frederick stood on that hill was because Kate Morton needed him to in order to give Grace a clue about her parentage!

In fact, without the author's own comments, we really do not have enough clues to say definitively that Grace was Frederick's child. Until Kate Morton talked about having Grace learn that Frederick was her father, it seemed almost equally possible that Grace had jumped to an incorrect conclusion and that her whole sense of sisterhood with Hannah and Emmeline and distant relation to Ursula had been an illusion.

Message Edited by Iulievich on 01-18-2008 11:57 PM
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Re: THEMES: Characters



KxBurns wrote:
What did you think of the various characters in the novel? Were some particularly well-developed? Were there characters you would have enjoyed seeing developed more fully? Who did you like best or least and why?

Karen




I had mixed feelings about all the characters! I didn't really care for Hannah but didn't hate her; she just made some poor decisions. I didn't care at all for Deborah but felt a little sorry for Teddy. Grace was good and loyal, but sometimes that can be to a fault.

The characters I really liked were the head servants at Riverton.
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