Welcome to month three of the Mary Elizabeth Braddon Read-Along! This month, we’re reading / discussing installment three (chs. 7-9) of Aurora Floyd.
If you’re new to the read-along, welcome! You will probably want to take a look at this post, and this update. You can participate via Twitter (follow @braddoninfo) or via this website (in the comments section on each month’s post). Discussion questions are posted on the last Monday of each month, and discussion runs throughout that week. We also encourage you to live-tweet and / or chat as you read.
Without further ado, this month’s installment summary and discussion questions:
March 2017: installment three
Ch. 7. In this chapter, Braddon depicts Aurora and Bulstrode’s life as an engaged couple. Aurora resumes her charitable activities. Aurora and Talbot have their first disagreement over an unusual request for charity by a stranger who claims to know Aurora.
Ch. 8. In this chapter, John Mellish returns to Felden Woods and subjects the residents there to his incessant moping. The holidays approach, and Bulstrode suffers under a sense of inevitable doom due to a cryptic statement of Aurora’s.
Ch. 9. In this chapter, Bulstrode receives an unpleasant letter from his mother and confronts Aurora about its contents. The pleasant circle at Felden Woods is disrupted.
Q1: Aurora and her cousin, Lucy Floyd, are often depicted as linked opposites. Aurora thrives where Lucy wastes away, etc. What do you make of this connection? Do you think Lucy will play a significant role in the rest of the story?
Q2: In this installment, Braddon repeatedly refers to love as the “most cowardly of all passions.” Why do you think she makes this claim? Was this something most Victorians would have agreed/disagreed with? Was it a convention of the sensation fiction genre? Does it affect her prior characterization of Mellish and Bulstrode as upstanding gentlemen?
Q3: In chapter 9, Bulstrode cries and readers are instructed to excuse him because these are “the virgin tears of his manhood.” What do you make of this scene? Is Braddon challenging gender roles, here? Conforming to them?
Q4: Also in chapter nine, Bulstrode uses paper as a metaphor to describe the kind of woman he requires: “the past life of my wife must be a white unblemished page, which all the world may be free to read.” This statement seems a bit of a contradiction, given that even the most inane printing “blemish[es]” a page. What do you make of this choice of imagery?
Q5: Braddon amps up the Gothic imagery in this installment, making references to Gothic classics but also emphasizing doom, death, and decay in her imagery and description of characters’ mental states. Why? And Why now?
Q6: Free for all – use this question number to pose questions of your own!