Oct 20, 2010

Character Analysis: George Wickham

Jane Austen uses the character of George Wickham to set up the stage for pivotal points of the novel-- they are almost all in some way connected to him, to name a few:

  • Elizabeth's bad opinion and rejection of Mr. Darcy 
  • Mr. Darcy's letter
  • Lizzy's development as a person in realizing her judgment isn't as clear as she thought
  • Lydia's 'elopement'

'Mad bad, and dangerous to know' his true character is veiled by:
...the best part of beauty, a fine countenance, a good figure, and very pleasing address... a happy readiness of conversation -- a readiness at the same time perfectly correct and unassuming

First, let's examine his motives in seeking Elizabeth. Certainly Lizzy was attractive with fine eyes and a lively disposition but she also, no doubt, had an astute look about her.

On reflection of the Darcy incident, Mr. Wickham must have been worried that someone noticed their reactions and he knew if anyone did it was Elizabeth Bennet. In that case he'd have to find out what her opinion is of Darcy and how he can manipulate it in his favor.

Mr. Wickham was the happy man towards whom almost every female eye was turned, and Elizabeth was the happy woman by whom he finally seated himself; and the agreeable manner in which he immediately fell into conversation, though it was only on its being a wet night, and on the probability of a rainy season, made her feel that the commonest, dullest, most threadbare topic might be rendered interesting by the skill of the speaker.
Note that it's a subtle warning to the reader that he can make the weather an interesting topic; he is a charmer and can have people 'listening with all their heart' if relating something of true importance. Even Mr. Darcy's excellent father was taken in:
...My father was not only fond of this young man’s society, whose manners were always engaging, he had also the highest opinion of him.

Wickham is also gambler, as we learn later on in the novel, true, he wouldn't win very much at Mrs. Phillips party but I'd imagine even a few shillings or pounds would tempt Wickham.

The fact that he turns down whist and doesn't participate in the lottery tickets further implies he had a particular reason in speaking to Elizabeth and carefully leads the conversation:

He inquired how far Netherfield was from Meryton; and after receiving her answer, asked in an hesitating manner how long Mr. Darcy had been staying there.

As he begins to spin his tale the reader is no doubt shocked at the hypocrisy and lies that are clearer upon a second reading :

I have no reason for avoiding him...
...I must have employment...
...There was just such an informality in the terms of the bequest as to give me no hope from law. A man of honour could not have doubted the intention, but Mr. Darcy chose to doubt it

Perhaps the only honest sentences of his tale to Elizabeth are:

I have been a disappointed man, and my spirits will not bear solitude... I had forfeited all claim to it by extravagance, imprudence [of course he changes the context of this one and was nevertheless compensated for the living]......We [Darcy vs. Wickham] are very different sort of men

He is a man of 'vicious propensities and want of principle, which he was careful to guard' a chameleon in a red coat that proves a fatal attraction to foolish Lydia Bennet but if Elizabeth was taken perhaps we ought not be so condemning of poor Lydia.

May 13, 2010

Regency Era: Georgian Jewelry


Jewelry, it is a very personal part of the wardrobe and reflects the personality as well as the style of the wearer. What can the jewelry fashions of the late Georgian / Regency tell us about the period?

The Essentials
 The Romans thought coral kept harm away from whoever wore it. Napoleon Bonaparte’s interest in all things Roman helped coral regain it’s popularity and by the mid nineteenth century strands of coral were extremely fashionable. Shades of rose peach and deep red were very much in vogue- it was the staple jewelry piece. The red created a beautiful burst of color with the classic white gown. A strand of pearls was also very becoming and has always remained a classic throughout the years as well as cross pendants.

A Delicate Fashion

Brooches decorating both necklines and waistlines were also very stylish. They varied from small stone brooches set in gold to pearl drops and flowers. Popular stones of the time were diamonds, emeralds, garnets, rubies, amethyst, yellow topaz, onyx, and turqoise.

Compared with today, precious stones had a rougher look as they were not faceted to such perfection due to lack of machinery. The rose cut and the table cut were the most common and while they let the stone keep most of it’s carat weight they both created sparkle because the light was reflecting off the facet and not because the light was passing through the stone. So jewelers set the stones with colored, silver, or gold foil behind them to enhance their color and bounce back a little more light.

Precious Metals

Gold was the metal of choice and  the higher karat was preferred. However gold was in short supply due to the war and pieces were often thin, layered, or made with a filigree design. Pinchbeck, a metal alloy of brass that closely resembles gold in color was used for costume jewelry. Pewter, silver, and bronze were also used.

Style

Simplicity was the key, anything ostentatious was thought to show a lack of taste and refinement. It suited the style of clothing very well. So it’s surprising to come across portraits with such bold jewelry as the ones seen above. My conjecture is that they were inspired by exotic styles and that they must have had bold personalities.

The lady on the left, the Hon. Mrs. Seymour Bathurst ,was the wife a colonel stationed in Malta for a period of time.  Lady Julia Peel, the right portrait, was the wife of the future British Prime Minister Robert Peel during the Victorian era.  Her father was a Colonel in an Indian regiment and her bracelets have an Indian look to them.

Jewelry Collections
If you would like the view Georgian jewelry pieces The Three Graces has a wonderful array of antique pieces.

Sources

"About Georgian Jewelry." The Three Graces. Web. http://www.georgianjewelry.com/reference/about_georgian_antique_jewelry
"Georgian Jewelry." Georgian Index -- Alphabetical Site Map. Web.  http://www.georgianindex.net/jewelry/gjewelry.html
"Georgian Jewelry Influenced by Napoleon Bonaparte and Georgian Architecture." Antique Jewelry Investor. Web. http://www.antique-jewelry-investor.com/georgian-jewelry.html
"Rose Cut Diamond - LoveToKnow Engagement Rings." Engagement Rings. Love to Know. Web. http://engagementrings.lovetoknow.com/wiki/Rose_Cut_Diamond

May 12, 2010

Georgian Era: Miniature Portraits


These tiny portraits of the past have always fascinated me. Often as small as one inch and a half, it's amazing to note the detail the artists worked into them. It started with a sketch of the subject on paper. Like any type of portraiture, not only did the artist strive to capture an accurate likeness but catch a glimpse of the subject's personality as well. When the artist was satisfied the sketch was placed under a semi-transparent sheet of ivory or vellum to be copied.

There were two main ways in which an artist painted a miniature: broad strokes, a faster but very difficult method that required a lot of experience and dotting, easier than the former but very time consuming. Watercolor and gouche were the paints of choice. Slightly wide brushes were used for the background and clothing, full but very finely pointed brushes were for details and the skin.


Details were painting looking through a magnifying glass. The more details shown and the more carefully hands were painted, the more expensive the miniature was. A sharp metal blade or 'scraper' was used to correct areas of paint that were too thick and to add small details such as strands of hair or lace patterns. It had to be used very gently so as not to scratch the ivory. A wide wooden tool was used to lift the paint when an error was made.

When finished and dried it was usually framed onto metal pedants, leather cases, or metal circlets. Daugerrotypes and photography lead to the decline of making the miniatures.

A lovely collection be found at The Tansey Collection of Miniatures and Portrait Miniature's of British Artists. Below are a few, click to see the gallery.

MiniaturePortraits

Sources:


Judy and Brian, Harden. Portrait Miniatures. Web.
http://www.portraitminiatures.co.uk/.

"19th Century Miniature Collection." The Tansey Collection of Miniatures. Web.
http://www.miniaturen-tansey.de/en/miniatures/epoches/epoche/19


"Painting Technique." The Tansey Collection of Miniatures. Web.
http://www.miniaturen-tansey.de/en/pages/show/sid/technique>."Portrait miniature." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Web.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portrait_miniature

Oct 20, 2010

Character Analysis: George Wickham

Jane Austen uses the character of George Wickham to set up the stage for pivotal points of the novel-- they are almost all in some way connected to him, to name a few:

  • Elizabeth's bad opinion and rejection of Mr. Darcy 
  • Mr. Darcy's letter
  • Lizzy's development as a person in realizing her judgment isn't as clear as she thought
  • Lydia's 'elopement'

'Mad bad, and dangerous to know' his true character is veiled by:
...the best part of beauty, a fine countenance, a good figure, and very pleasing address... a happy readiness of conversation -- a readiness at the same time perfectly correct and unassuming

First, let's examine his motives in seeking Elizabeth. Certainly Lizzy was attractive with fine eyes and a lively disposition but she also, no doubt, had an astute look about her.

On reflection of the Darcy incident, Mr. Wickham must have been worried that someone noticed their reactions and he knew if anyone did it was Elizabeth Bennet. In that case he'd have to find out what her opinion is of Darcy and how he can manipulate it in his favor.

Mr. Wickham was the happy man towards whom almost every female eye was turned, and Elizabeth was the happy woman by whom he finally seated himself; and the agreeable manner in which he immediately fell into conversation, though it was only on its being a wet night, and on the probability of a rainy season, made her feel that the commonest, dullest, most threadbare topic might be rendered interesting by the skill of the speaker.
Note that it's a subtle warning to the reader that he can make the weather an interesting topic; he is a charmer and can have people 'listening with all their heart' if relating something of true importance. Even Mr. Darcy's excellent father was taken in:
...My father was not only fond of this young man’s society, whose manners were always engaging, he had also the highest opinion of him.

Wickham is also gambler, as we learn later on in the novel, true, he wouldn't win very much at Mrs. Phillips party but I'd imagine even a few shillings or pounds would tempt Wickham.

The fact that he turns down whist and doesn't participate in the lottery tickets further implies he had a particular reason in speaking to Elizabeth and carefully leads the conversation:

He inquired how far Netherfield was from Meryton; and after receiving her answer, asked in an hesitating manner how long Mr. Darcy had been staying there.

As he begins to spin his tale the reader is no doubt shocked at the hypocrisy and lies that are clearer upon a second reading :

I have no reason for avoiding him...
...I must have employment...
...There was just such an informality in the terms of the bequest as to give me no hope from law. A man of honour could not have doubted the intention, but Mr. Darcy chose to doubt it

Perhaps the only honest sentences of his tale to Elizabeth are:

I have been a disappointed man, and my spirits will not bear solitude... I had forfeited all claim to it by extravagance, imprudence [of course he changes the context of this one and was nevertheless compensated for the living]......We [Darcy vs. Wickham] are very different sort of men

He is a man of 'vicious propensities and want of principle, which he was careful to guard' a chameleon in a red coat that proves a fatal attraction to foolish Lydia Bennet but if Elizabeth was taken perhaps we ought not be so condemning of poor Lydia.

May 13, 2010

Regency Era: Georgian Jewelry


Jewelry, it is a very personal part of the wardrobe and reflects the personality as well as the style of the wearer. What can the jewelry fashions of the late Georgian / Regency tell us about the period?

The Essentials
 The Romans thought coral kept harm away from whoever wore it. Napoleon Bonaparte’s interest in all things Roman helped coral regain it’s popularity and by the mid nineteenth century strands of coral were extremely fashionable. Shades of rose peach and deep red were very much in vogue- it was the staple jewelry piece. The red created a beautiful burst of color with the classic white gown. A strand of pearls was also very becoming and has always remained a classic throughout the years as well as cross pendants.

A Delicate Fashion

Brooches decorating both necklines and waistlines were also very stylish. They varied from small stone brooches set in gold to pearl drops and flowers. Popular stones of the time were diamonds, emeralds, garnets, rubies, amethyst, yellow topaz, onyx, and turqoise.

Compared with today, precious stones had a rougher look as they were not faceted to such perfection due to lack of machinery. The rose cut and the table cut were the most common and while they let the stone keep most of it’s carat weight they both created sparkle because the light was reflecting off the facet and not because the light was passing through the stone. So jewelers set the stones with colored, silver, or gold foil behind them to enhance their color and bounce back a little more light.

Precious Metals

Gold was the metal of choice and  the higher karat was preferred. However gold was in short supply due to the war and pieces were often thin, layered, or made with a filigree design. Pinchbeck, a metal alloy of brass that closely resembles gold in color was used for costume jewelry. Pewter, silver, and bronze were also used.

Style

Simplicity was the key, anything ostentatious was thought to show a lack of taste and refinement. It suited the style of clothing very well. So it’s surprising to come across portraits with such bold jewelry as the ones seen above. My conjecture is that they were inspired by exotic styles and that they must have had bold personalities.

The lady on the left, the Hon. Mrs. Seymour Bathurst ,was the wife a colonel stationed in Malta for a period of time.  Lady Julia Peel, the right portrait, was the wife of the future British Prime Minister Robert Peel during the Victorian era.  Her father was a Colonel in an Indian regiment and her bracelets have an Indian look to them.

Jewelry Collections
If you would like the view Georgian jewelry pieces The Three Graces has a wonderful array of antique pieces.

Sources

"About Georgian Jewelry." The Three Graces. Web. http://www.georgianjewelry.com/reference/about_georgian_antique_jewelry
"Georgian Jewelry." Georgian Index -- Alphabetical Site Map. Web.  http://www.georgianindex.net/jewelry/gjewelry.html
"Georgian Jewelry Influenced by Napoleon Bonaparte and Georgian Architecture." Antique Jewelry Investor. Web. http://www.antique-jewelry-investor.com/georgian-jewelry.html
"Rose Cut Diamond - LoveToKnow Engagement Rings." Engagement Rings. Love to Know. Web. http://engagementrings.lovetoknow.com/wiki/Rose_Cut_Diamond

May 12, 2010

Georgian Era: Miniature Portraits


These tiny portraits of the past have always fascinated me. Often as small as one inch and a half, it's amazing to note the detail the artists worked into them. It started with a sketch of the subject on paper. Like any type of portraiture, not only did the artist strive to capture an accurate likeness but catch a glimpse of the subject's personality as well. When the artist was satisfied the sketch was placed under a semi-transparent sheet of ivory or vellum to be copied.

There were two main ways in which an artist painted a miniature: broad strokes, a faster but very difficult method that required a lot of experience and dotting, easier than the former but very time consuming. Watercolor and gouche were the paints of choice. Slightly wide brushes were used for the background and clothing, full but very finely pointed brushes were for details and the skin.


Details were painting looking through a magnifying glass. The more details shown and the more carefully hands were painted, the more expensive the miniature was. A sharp metal blade or 'scraper' was used to correct areas of paint that were too thick and to add small details such as strands of hair or lace patterns. It had to be used very gently so as not to scratch the ivory. A wide wooden tool was used to lift the paint when an error was made.

When finished and dried it was usually framed onto metal pedants, leather cases, or metal circlets. Daugerrotypes and photography lead to the decline of making the miniatures.

A lovely collection be found at The Tansey Collection of Miniatures and Portrait Miniature's of British Artists. Below are a few, click to see the gallery.

MiniaturePortraits

Sources:


Judy and Brian, Harden. Portrait Miniatures. Web.
http://www.portraitminiatures.co.uk/.

"19th Century Miniature Collection." The Tansey Collection of Miniatures. Web.
http://www.miniaturen-tansey.de/en/miniatures/epoches/epoche/19


"Painting Technique." The Tansey Collection of Miniatures. Web.
http://www.miniaturen-tansey.de/en/pages/show/sid/technique>."Portrait miniature." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Web.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portrait_miniature
© November's Autumn
Maira Gall