Secondary Character Saturday: Roger Hamley (Wives and Daughters)

Anthony Howell as Roger Hamley [Image Courtesy: BBC Video]

Anthony Howell as Roger Hamley [Image Courtesy: BBC Video]

WHO: Roger Hamley

FROM: Wives & Daughters

BY: Elizabeth Gaskell

Elizabeth Gaskell, in portrait of 1851 by Geor...

Elizabeth Gaskell, in portrait of 1851 by George Richmond (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


PROS: Earnest, hardworking, intelligent, honorable, ruggedly romantic, humble and handsome, he’s quite the Victorian hero.

CONS: Unfortunately for Roger he is the second son. His older brother Osborne outshines him in pretty much everything (especially expectations) at the beginning of the novel. Osborne  is “…full of tastes” [Chapter 4 of Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell]  has talent, and has grace and refinement in his appearance. He is sweet-tempered and affectionate and does well at school. While Roger was …

clumsy and heavily built, like his father; his face was square, and the expression grave, and rather immobile. He was good, but dull, his schoolmasters said. He won no prizes, but brought home a favourable report of his conduct. When he caressed his mother, she used laughingly to allude to the fable of the lap-dog and the donkey; so thereafter he left off all personal demonstration of affection. [Ibid]

He can’t help being a second son, but there you have it. In a society where the first son will inherit everything, there’s not much our boy Roger can do.  Another CON for Roger (this one he can do something about) is the way he swiftly falls for Cynthia. He’s gobsmacked, head-over-heals in love with this humming-bird of a woman, when we all know he should be falling for Molly!

One of the final pages from the manuscript for...

One of the final pages from the manuscript for Wives and Daughters (The Works of Mrs. Gaskell, Knutsford Edition) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

BEST SHINING MOMENT: His kindness to Molly on her first visit to the Squire’s. Gaskell died before she finished the novel, so we never get to read her intended ending (having Roger return a dried flower to Molly when he proclaims his love just before leaving for a second scientific expedition to Africa.  But if one were to go by The lovely 1999 BBC miniseries of the novel (with Anthony Howell as Roger) I’d say the the best shining moment was the ending…

LEAST SHINING MOMENT: Choosing Cynthia over Molly. D’oh!

WHY I CHOSE ROGER: I’m a sucker for the underdog.


About ritalovestowrite

Freelance writer, graphic designer, musician, foodie and Jane Austen enthusiast in Northern Baltimore County, Maryland. As a writer I enjoy both fiction and non fiction (food, travel and local interest stories.) As an advocate for the ARTS, one of my biggest passions is helping young people find a voice in all the performing arts. To that end it has been my honor to give one-on-one lessons to elementary, middle and high school students in graphic design and music. And as JANE-O I currently serve as the regional coordinator for JASNA Maryland and am working on a Regency/Federal cooking project. View all posts by ritalovestowrite

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