Wednesday, February 6, 2019

The Duchess and the Jeweller :: Literary Analysis, Virginia Woolf

The Duchess and the jeweler by Virginia Woolf is a short story about Oliver, a forgetful man who has become a successful jeweler, and his interaction with a Duchess. In the story, Oliver jumbles with the Duchess over social ability, where she has the ability to cheat him by selling him spurt pearls in exchange for a weekend spent with her daughter whom he is in love with a classic battle of the sexes. While the encounter between man and woman is evident, Virginia Woolf uses flashback, point of view and imagery to in any case convey the dispute between the rich and the poor. Oliver is first introduced as a man who lives very well with the right brandies, whiskeys and liqueurs (Woolf 90), in a folk where a more central position could not be imagined (90). He is a man of power who has his breakfast brought in on a try by a manservant (90) and receives invitations from duchesses, countesses, viscountesses and Honourable Ladies (90). When the Duchess first arrives to see him , he has her wait for ten minutes, displaying that he, a jeweller, has the authority to make her wait. However, Woolf uses flashback to display the profound battle of the rich and the poor. The reader sees that Oliver came from less fortunate roots where he sold stolen dogs and cheap watches. While superficially it may seem that he has the Duchess of Lambourne, daughter of a hundred Earls ( 93) wait because he has the masculine power to have her wait to see him, Woolf introduces the idea that Oliver, the impecunious boy who bring in his wealth, has the Duchess, a woman whose wealth was inherited, wait for his pleasure. While we see the struggle of control between Oliver and the Duchess, the reader also observes Olivers mothers dominance over him. Using flashback, Woolf shows that as a child when he was swindled while selling stolen dogs, his mother disapprovingly wails, Oh, Oliver When will you have sense, my watchword? (90). Later, Oliver talks to a picture of his mother s aying, I have win my bet (91) while reminiscing about his past as a devoid boy in a filthy little alley (90) and reflecting on his success. This shows that he has something to prove to his mother, that he is still constrained by her and her thoughts of him.

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