FROM: Wives & Daughters
BY: Elizabeth Gaskell
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!
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.
- Book Review: Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Glaskell (authoramy.com)