(1) EZRA MANNON
A Disillusioned Lover
Ezra Mannon enjoyed the spontaneity of love before he married Christine. When he courted her, her eyes communicated the feelings of her heart and his heart could talk to her heart. But after a few years of their married life their relations were reduced to mere animality. This disgusted him like anything. He says to his wife “Your body ? What are bodies to me ? I have seen too many rotting in the sun to make grass greener. Ashes to ashes, dirt to dirt ! Is that your notion of love ?”
Symbol of the Sublimation of Sex
Frustration in marital life sublimated his sexual energy. Rejoined the Mexican war and rose to the rank of a major. In the meantime, his father died and he had to leave the army and then he took to business––he started taking interest in shipping as a. profession. But the agony of his life still gnawed at his heart ; his restlessness drove him to seek some other avenues of satisfaction and he studied law and became a judge. Then he took part in politics and became mayor. Meanwhile, the Civil War broke out and he joined the army again where he rose to be a Brigadier General. During all these years he had bitter experiences of marital relations. Before he joined the army during the Mexican war he felt that Christine wanted him to go because she hated him, and that is why he did go. He hoped to be killed in action and thought that perhaps Christine also hoped so. When he came back home he found that Christine had turned to Orin and therefore he turned to Lavinia but because Lavinia was not his wife, he made up his mind to engage himself in worldly affairs and leave Christine alone. That is why he preferred to become a judge and later on a mayor. People called him an “able” man but he felt that he was not able to get what he wanted most in his life––the love of his wife. He was not even able to keep his mind from thinking of what he had lost.
His Troubled Mind
But while he was on the front the memory of his wife troubled his mind. He lay awake in the nights thinking about his life and his wife’s. In the middle of battle he thought he would be dead in .a minute. But his life ending just within a minute did not appear worth a thought one way or another. Moreover, the idea of his being killed as the husband of Christine seemed to be queer and wrong, like something dying that had never lived. The idea that all the years they had been husband and wife would rise up in his mind and he would try to look back to those years. But nothing was clear except that there had been some barrier between them––a wall that was but he could never discover.
A Typical Puritan
His experience of death and life on the front shows that he is a typical puritan. When he saw death around him in the war he thought about the importance of emotional communication between husband and wife. “It was seeing death all the time in this war got me to thinking these things”, he says to his wife. Death was so common there that it did not mean anything. That freed him to think of life, that is, death made him think of life. Before that life had only made him think of death.’ He is quite explicit in tracing this trait in his personality. “That’s always been the Mannons’ way of thinking”, he says. In other words, he has inherited this perverted way of looking at life from his puritan ancestors. He further says that the Mannons went to the white meeting-house on Sabbaths and meditated on death. Life was a dying. Being born was starting to die. Death was being born. But that white meeting-house stuck in his mind as a temple of death. However, in the war he saw many white walls splattered with blood that counted no more than dirty water. He saw dead men scattered about, no more important than rubbish to be got rid of. That made the white meeting-house seem meaningless––making so much fuss over death.
The Other Ezra Mannon
The above traits of Ezra’s personality are based on what he says to his wife about his past life. But the Ezra we see in the play is a tall, spare, big-boned man of fifty, dressed in the uniform of a Brigadier-General. His movements are exact and wooden and lie has a mannerism of standing and sitting in stiff, posed attitudes that suggests the statues of military heroes. When he speaks, his deep voice has a hollow repressed quality, as if he were continuously withholding emotion from it. He has a brusque and authoritative air.
The Voice of Ezra’s Heart
The first voice of Ezra’s heart that we hear after his arrival is his admiration of Christine’s beauty that betokens his ever-burning flame of love for her. He regrets that he has offended her feelings by referring to Adam Brant and kisses her hand impulsively. He tells her that he has been dreaming of coining home and seeing Christine. He leans towards her though his voice trembles with desire and a feeling of strangeness and awe, add touches her hair with an awkward caress, and says : “You’re beautiful. You look more beautiful than ever.” He does so in spite of the fact that he feels that she has grown “strange”.
He cannot allow his wife to love a man of her choice and that is why Christine says that he considers her as his property. Though be dismisses the issue of Christine’s relations with Adam after the latter convinces him, he still intuitively feels that Christine is not really his. “I shouldn’t have bothered you with that foolishness about Brant tonight”, he says, and forces a strained smile. Then he says, “I was jealous a mite, to tell you the truth.” He leans over her awkwardly, as if to kiss her, then is stopped by some strangeness he feels about her still face. He feels that he cannot get used to home because it is too lonely. In the army camps he felt protected in the midst of thousand men but here when Christine has closed her eyes fie feels utterly lonely. He wants to bare his heart before her, to explain something inside him––it is no doubt his distrust that has made him so uneasy. But something queer in him keeps him mum about the things he would like to show, something keeps him sitting numb in his own heart––like a statue of a dead man in a town square. He feels that his house is not his house, his bed is not his bed––they are empty, waiting for someone to move in. His wife does not seem to be his wife ; she seems to be waiting for something, for his death. And when Christine tells him that she loves Adam, he is seized with fury and threatens to kill her, but he becomes a victim of his own jealousy––he has a fit of his heart trouble. One may presume that even if Christine had not poisoned him, his ordinary heart trouble would have turned into a severe heart attack.
(2) CHRISTINE MANNON
Her Physical Features
Christine, the wife of Ezra Mannon, is a tall striking-looking woman of forty but she appears younger. She has a fine, voluptuous figure and she moves with a flowing animal grace. She wears a. green satin, smartly cut and expensive, which brings out the peculiar colour of her thick curly hair, partly a copper brown, partly a. bronze gold, each shade distinct and yet blending with the other. Her face is unusual, handsome rather than beautiful. One is struck at once by the strange impression it gives in repose of being not living flesh but a wonderfully life-like pale mask, in which only the deep-set eyes, of a dark violet blue, are alive. Her black eyebrows meet in a pronounced straight line above her strong nose. Her chin is heavy, her mouth large and sensual, the lower lip full, the upper a thin bow, shadowed by a line of hair.
People have queer notions about her. Louisa says that people hate her, that she is not ‘the Mannon kind’, that she is foreign-looking and queer.
says that she is secret looking, characteristic of the Mannons who do not want people to guess their secrets. Ames
An Enemy of Puritanism
Christine is the anti-thesis of puritanism. She hates puritans so much that when she finds Lavinia on the steps of the house on a moonlit night, she says sarcastically : “What are you moongazing at ? Puritan maidens shouldn’t peer too inquisitively into Spring. Isn’t beauty an abomination and love a vile thing ?” She is so much in love with life that seeks beauty in things associated with death. She wants to ‘brighten’ the tomb-like Mannon house which appears to her more like a sepulchre. She again takes an opportunity of attacking puritanism : “Every time I come back after being away it (the house) appears more like a sepulchre ! The “whited” one of the Bible––pagan temple front stuck like a mask on Puritan gray ugliness.”
A Frustrated Wife
The greatest agony in Christine’s life is that she is the wife of a man she hates. She narrates to Lavinia her tragic tale of romance and married life. She says that she loved Ezra before they were married. Then he was “handsome in his lieutenant uniform” ; he was silent and mysterious and romantic. But marriage soon turned his romance into disgust. Thus though they have lived as husband and wife for over twenty years, their relationship, she says, has no meaning “between them”. She has been only giving her body to her husband––this is what she has experienced as a wife.
Her Longing For Love
When Orin was born, Christine thought he was her child and so she loved him. But Ezra and Lavinia insisted on Orin’s joining the army. And when Orin’s love was also snatched from her, Christine had nothing in her life except hate and desire to be revenged, and a longing to be loved. It was then that she met., Adam and she felt that he loved her. She reciprocated his love knowing his parentage and his evil design.
Murder For Love
When Ezra comes home and puts direct questions to Christine about Adam she lies to him and says that the Captain has been coming for Lavinia. She poses to love her husband but her gestures and behaviour show her hatred of her husband. When Ezra caresses her hair and admires it, she starts with repulsion and shrinks from him. Then as he turns away, she pretends to be feeling nervous. When Ezra tells her the agonizing tale of his woeful life as he experienced on the front, she says that she does not understand what he is talking about. At a stage Ezra expresses his apprehension that she is waiting for his death ; then she bursts out with anger and hatred in her vice, “You acted as if I were your wife––your property––not so long ago.” But Ezra goes on nagging her and ultimately Christine confesses that she loves Adam whom she finds gentle and tender––everything Ezra has, never been. He is everything what she has longed for all these years with Ezra––a lover. For Ezra this is a bolt from the blue, a naked truth which he cannot bear. He has a fit of heart trouble and Christine, who knows that this trouble is not so serious as to take his life, administers the poisonous pellet on him sent by Adam for this purpose. For the sake of her love she can obliterate all scruples from her conscience.
No Moral Scruples
Christine has no consideration, for the respect and dignity of the Mannons : when Lavinia says hat she will tell her father the whole story of Christine’s affairs with Adam, she says that in that case she will go away with her lover : “Suppose I go off openly with Adam. Where will you and your father and the family name be after that scandal ? And what if I were disgraced myself ? I’d have the man I love, at least!” She does not feel any moral scruples in making her own daughter flirt with Adam, as she says, so that Lavinia may not grow suspicious of her mother’s relations with the Captain. She tells Adam that she has made one blunder after another. “It’s as if love drove me on to do everything I shouldn’t she says. Yet she cannot endanger Adam’s life for her sake. Adam intends to kill Ezra in a duel but she tells him that he cannot force Ezra to fight a duel with him and points out that duelling being illegal, Ezra would have Adam arrested. She does not care for the future of her own son and daughter and is ready to desert them and join Adam in matrimony and take her share of the Mannon estate. When she fears that Lavinia would report to the police that she (Christine) has poisoned Ezra, she entreats Orin to stop Lavinia from doing so because Adam would also be tried as her accomplice. She takes the whole responsibility on her shoulder and tries to save the life of her lover. Staring at the portrait of Ezra in his study, she appeals to him distractedly, “Ezra. Don’t let her harm Adam ! I am the only guilty one! Don’t let Orin––!” And when she fears that Orin would kill Adam she risks her life and goes to Boston to warn Adam of Orin.
Martyr to Love
After killing Adam Orin comes home and tries to console his mother by his affection. He castigates her, for loving a “servant’s bastard who got her under his influence to take his mother’s revenge on Ezra. But he finds that she is still under the influence of her lover. He, therefore, seeks her forgiveness and begs for her love. But she is silent all the time. Lavinia holds that Adam has paid the just penalty for his crime and suggests that Christine can “live”. This last word stings her like anything. She glares at Lavinia as if this were the last insult ; she utters with strident mockery “Live !” and bursts into shrill laughter, stops abruptly, raises her hands between her face and Lavinia and pushes them Out in a gesture of blotting her daughter forever from her sight. And, after a few moments, she blots herself from this world––she shoots herself.
(3) ORIN MANNON
His Physical Features
When Orin is introduced to us we are told that one is struck by his startling family resemblance to his father and Adam. There is the same lifelike mask quality of his face in repose, the same aquiline nose, heavy eyebrows, swarthy complexion, thick straight black hair, light hazel eyes. His mouth and chin have the same general characteristics as his father’s had, but the expression of his mouth gives an impression of tense oversensitiveness quite foreign to the General’s, and his chin is a refined, weakened version of the dead man’s. He is about the same height as his father and Adam, but his body is thin and his swarthy complexion, sallow. He wears a bandage around his head high up on his forehead. He carries himself by turns with a marked slouchiness or with a self conscious square-shouldered stiffness that indicates that a soldierly bearing is unnatural to him. When he speaks it is jerkily, with a strange vague, preoccupied air. But when he smiles naturally his face has a gentle boyish charm which makes women immediately want to mother him. He wears a moustache similar to Adam’s which serves to increase their resemblance to each other. Although he is only twenty, he looks thirty. He is dressed in a baggy, ill-fitting uniform––that of a first lieutenant of infantry in the Union Army.
Orin is badly scared by war which finishes life within a few moments. For those who have no experience of war death might be something very serious, he says, but for him who has seen the naked dance of death it is only a joke––“a dirty joke life plays on life”. Lavinia says to him that their father proudly told her that Orin had done one of the bravest things the General had seen in the war. Then Orin grins with bitter mockery and says that it was all absurd. Then he tells her “the joke” about his heroic deed. It really happened one night when he sneaked through the enemy’s lines. He was always volunteering for extra danger but he was so scared that anyone would guess he was afraid. There was a thick mist and it was so still one could hear the fog seeping into the ground. He met a Rev crawling towards his lines ; the face of the Rev drifted out of the mist towards him. He shortened his sword and let him have the point under the ear. The Rev stared at him with an idiotic look as if he’d sat on a tack––and his eyes dimmed and went out. He had to kill another in the same way. But what was his impression of this act of ‘bravery’ ? It was like murdering the same man twice. He had a queer feeling that war meant murdering the same man over and over, and that in the end he would discover that the man was he himself. Their faces keep coming back in his dreams––and they change to his father’s––or to his.
Victim of Oedipus Complex
Through Christine we learn oat when Orin was born she turned to him because her relations with her husband were too disgusting. But her dream of the love of her son also fizzled out when Lavinia and Ezra rather forced him to join army. The dramatist, does not manage to tell us Orin’s response to his mother’s coddling in his childhood and adolescence but when he gets wound in his head in the war he always remembers her, as if she were with him. He has most wonderful dreams about her. He imagines that he is on South Sea Islands which mean everything that is not war, everything that is peace and warmth and security. He dreams that he is there along with his mother. The breaking of the waves is her voice, the sky’s colour is the same as her eyes’ s, the warm sand is like her skin––the whole Island is she. Now when he has come back home he is adoring her beauty : “You’re mote beautiful than ever! You’re younger, too, somehow.” He affectionately says to her. “Of course, Mother ! You come before everything!” When Christine suggests that he should marry Hazel, he says in a complaining voice, “But now you’re a widow, I’m not home an hour before you’re trying to marry me off ! You must be damned anxious to get rid of me again ! Why ?”
His Infatuation With His Mother
In spite of the fact that Orin loves his mother so much, he cannot forgive her if he is convinced that she is really in love with Adam. How can he put up with a rival of his mother’s love ? His fondness for her becomes a sort of infatuation. “And I’ll never leave you again now”, he says to his mother, “I don’t want Hazel or anyone.” Then again he says with a grin; “You’re my only girl !” He recalls to her how his father was always antagonistic to him in his childhood : “And what a row there was when Father caught me ! And do you remember how you used to let me brush your hair and how I loved to. He hated me doing that, too.” He has a strong desire to live with his mother alone after marrying Lavinia off to Peter. He tells Lavinia that Christine means thousand times more than his father meant to him. At a time he seems to be so much blind in his love for her that he cannot believe Lavinia’s report against her. But when he gets certain proof of her bad conduct, he becomes furious to the extent that he resolves to kill her lover : “I’m not anxious to be hanged––for that skunk heard her asking him to kiss her ! I heard her warn him against me !” And he eventually kills Adam. When he looks at the face of Adam lying dead before him, it appears to be like his and he feels as if he has killed himself. In Freudian terms, he has killed the lover of his mother who he himself is. However, he has not been able to free himself from his mother-fixation even after knowing Christine’s relations’ with Adam. He still craves for his long cherished desire to live alone with her. Finding her moaning in the memory of Adam, he says to her : “Mother I Don’t moan like that ! You’re still under his influence ! But ,you’ll forget him ! I’ll make you forget him I’ll make you happy ! We’ll leave Vinnie here and go away on a_ long voyage––to the South Sea––.”
A Nervous Wreck
After the death of Christine Orin becomes a nervous wreck. He is incessantly obsessed by the idea that he drove his mother to commit suicide. Lavinia fears that he may confess that he is responsible for Christine’s death. Due to this fear Lavinia takes him to his ideal Island, to China, but nothing attracts or diverts his mind from his guilt consciousness. His romantically idealized Islands make him sick and the naked women dancing to the rhythm of life’s spontaneity disgust him. Not only this, he misjudges that .Lavinia has fallen in love with one of the natives and lusts with him and so he hastens back home, saying that he would like to face his ghosts and rid himself of his guilt-obsession. But what happens to him here is that his obsession becomes too horrible. He goes to the study feeling that Christine must be waiting for him there, but finding none there, he cries in despair, “She isn’t anywhere”, and pointing towards the portraits of the Mannons, he says that they are everywhere. He is horrified by the idea that Christine could not forgive his guilt. He cannot face God’s tight––the natural light of the sun––when he is writing the history of the Mannons, particularly their crimes. He locks himself in his father’s study in daytime and closes the blinds and lights the lamp. He finds artificial light more appropriate for his work, man’s light, man’s feeble striving to understand himself, to .exist for himself in the darkness. It is a symbol of his life––a lamp burning out in a room of waiting shadows.
A Perverted Lover
Orin’s attitude towards his beloved, Hazel, is ambivalent. On ‘the one hand, he complains to Lavinia that she does not leave him alone with Hazel for more than a minute, even when they are engaged. But a few seconds later he says that he is afraid of being too long with her––afraid of himself. “I have no right in the same world with her”, he says, “and yet I feel so drawn to her purity. Her love for me makes me appear less vile to myself.” But in another breath he reverses his idea : “And, at the same time, a million times more vile, that’s the hell of it. So I’m afraid you can’t hope to get rid of me through Hazel.” In his opinion, Hazel is, like Christine, another lost Island. He requests Lavinia to keep Hazel away from him because, he says, when he sees love for a murderer in her eyes his guilt crowds up in his throat like poisonous vomit and he longs to spit it out and confess. He cannot think that if Hazel knows the nature of his agony she may share the burden of his soul and help gain reprieve.
The Incestuous Cycle
Just as Orin’s puritan possessiveness combined with Lavinia’s jealousy is responsible for Christine’s tragic end, it is Orin’s looking at Lavinia as his mother-substitute that is responsible for the wreck of her love affairs with Peter. While they were in China he grew jealous of Lavinia’s happy life there. Then how can he see her loving and living happily here when he feels that she is his accomplice ? He cannot bear the idea that Lavinia should leave him and join Peter in matrimony. He says that he has written in the history of the Mannons the crime of Lavinia and does everything to prejudice Peter against her-he does not hesitate to mention his idea about Lavinia’s ‘lusting’ with the native. His every gesture from now onward verges on incestuous advance : “I love you now with all the guilt in me––the guilt we share ! Perhaps I love you too much, Vinnie !” Now Lavinia ceases to be his mother in his eyes ; she rather becomes some stranger with the same beautiful hair as his mother’s ; she looks like Marie Brantome ! Here he becomes another Abe Mannon and Lavinia a new Marie Brantome.
In spite of his efforts to force Lavinia to confess their guilt, and pay penalty, for it, Orin finds her “harder to break” than him. Lavinia, who was so affectionate towards her only young brother, curses him like anything: “I hate you ! I wish you were dead ! You’re too vile to live ! You’d kill yourself if you weren’t a coward !” These words work their influence on him like wild fire ; “You want to drive me to suicide as I drove Mother I he says to Lavinia. He further says, “That would be justice––now you are Mother ! She is speaking now through you!... Yes! It’s the way to peace––to find her again––my lost Island––Death is an Island of Peace, too––Mother will be waiting for me there––.” And he ultimately joins his mother in death.
(4) LAVINIA MANNON
Her Picturesque Personality
Lavinia, the daughter of Ezra Mannon, is a young girl of twenty three but looks considerably older. She is tall like her mother, her body is thin, flat-breasted, and angular, and its, unattractiveness is accentuated by her plain black dress. Her movements are stiff and she carries herself with a wooden, square-shouldered, military bearing. She has a flat dry voice and a habit of snapping out her words like an officer giving orders. But in spite of dissimilarities, one is immediately struck by her facial resemblance to her mother. She has the same peculiar shade of copper gold hair, the same pallor and dark violet-blue eyes, the black eyebrows meeting in a straight line above her nose, the same sensual mouth, the same heavy jaw. Above all, one is struck by the same strange, life-like mask impression her face gives in repose. But it is evident that Lavinia does all in her power to emphasize the dissimilarity rather than the resemblance to her mother. She wears her hair pulled tightly back, as if to conceal its natural curliness, and there is not a touch of feminine allurement to her severely plain get-up. Her head is the same size as her mother’s, but on her thin body it looks too large and heavy.
Victim of Electra Complex
From the beginning of the play till the death of Ezra Mannon Lavinia remains a victim of Electra complex. In her encounter with Lavinia, Christine tells her that the former has always tried to become the wife of her father and the mother of Orin. To this Lavinia wildly reacts, “No. It’s you who have stolen all love from me since the time I was born.” And when Ezra comes home from the front, Lavinia wants to snatch him from Christine. Christine wants that he should sit on the steps leading to the Mannon house and enjoy the moonlit night there but Lavinia would not like that Christine should monopolize his love. She says that it is too damp there and that because he must be hungry he must go inside and eat something. Further, Christine suggests that Ezra should go to bed but Lavinia, who has been, watching him jealously, suddenly pulls him by the arm with a childish volubility and says, “No ! Not yet ! Please, Father ! You’ve only just come ! We’ve hardly talked at all ! She is so happy to find her father with her that she excitedly kisses him and says : You’re the only man I’ll ever love ! I’m going to stay with you ! When Ezra and Christine are talking together on the night of the General’s ‘homecoming’ her heart is filled with an anguish of jealous hatred : “I hate you ! You steal even Father’s love from me again ! You stole all love from me when I was born !” Then she hides her face in her hands and . says almost with a sob, “Oh, Mother. Why have you done this to me ? What harm had I done you ?”
She has so much fascination for her father that she, in the beginning of the play, says that she does not know anything about love nor does she want to know anything about it and that she hates love, though we know that she loves Peter and, moreover, her love is not an ordinary fanciful romance, as we see later on. But her love for her father whose wife has proved to be unfaithful has disgusted her so much that she says that she cannot marry anyone because her father ‘needs’ her.
Lavinia is a puritan moralist in her attitude towards Christine and Adam. She considers that it is immoral on the part of her mother to be unfaithful to her husband and have illicit relations with Adam. For knowing the whole truth about Adam’s relations with her mother, Lavinia follows her to New York and when she has seen with her own eyes her mother and Adam making love, she make sup her mind to chastise her mother and punish Adam. After her return home from New York she bursts upon Christine “You vile––! You’re shameless and evil ! Even if you are my mother, I say it !” For her mother’s vileness, Lavinia wants to punish her strongly.
She hates Adam on two counts. First, because she considers that he is the son of a low nurse and second, because Adam, she believes, does not really love Christine sincerely but that Christine is “his revenge on Father”.
On the one hand Lavinia complains that her mother stole all her love from her and on the other hand she tries to exercise her authority on Orin since the moment he arrives home. “All I want to do is warn you to be on your guard.” She warns him against her own mother : “Don’t let her baby you the way she used to and get you under her thumb again. Don’t believe the lies she’ll tell you ! Wait until you’ve talked to me !” On another occasion she fears that Orin is still begging his mother’s love, even when he knows the whole tale of her illicit connection with Adam. Then with bitter scorn Lavinia says; “Orin I After all that’s happened, are you becoming her crybaby again ?” Orin starts and gets to his feet, staring at her confusedly, as if he had forgotten her existence. Lavinia speaks again in curt commanding tone that recalls her father “Leave her alone ! Go in the house ... Do you hear me? March !” She does not allow Hazel to take Orin along with her to her house.
Her Vindictive Nature
When Christine confesses to Lavinia that she loves Adam, Lavinia says : “You know you deserve the worst punishment you could get ... And I’d like to see you punished for your wickedness.” All this does not show that Lavinia wants to do justice to her mother but that being jealous of her mother since her early childhood it is her vindictive nature that had matured with the advance of her age. Though in the following words she is telling Christine what Ezra would do if he comes to know that his wife is an adulteress yet they voice Lavinia’s feeling of revenge : “Father would use all his influence and get Brant blacklisted so he’d lose his command and never get another ! You know how much the “Flying Trades” means to him. And Father would never divorce you. You could never marry. You’d be an anchor around .his neck. Don’t forget you’re five years older than he is ! He’ll still be in his prime when you’re an old woman with all your looks gone ! He’d grow to hate the sight of you!” And it is due to her insinuation that Orin kills her lover and drives her to commit suicide. Her words on this occasion remarkably reflect her nature : “You and I, who are innocent, would suffer a worse punishment than the guilty––for we’d have to live on ! It would mean that Father’s memory and that of all the honorable Mannon dead would be cragged through the horror of a murder trial ! But I’d rather suffer that than let the murder of our father go unpunished !”
An Ardent Lover
Though in the beginning of the play we bear Lavinia say that she hates love, when the actual moment of her relations with Peter comes she proves to be an ardent lover. Adam bad been on the Islands all alone without any real feeling of love for someone alive in this world ! Orin only dreamt of being there ; and Christine always craved to go there along with Adam. But Lavinia, who has the, blessings of Peter’s love in her life, goes on the Islands and falls in love with them. The Islands finish setting her free. There is something mysterious and beautiful there––a good spirit––of love––coming out of the land and sea. It makes her forget death. She feels there is no hereafter but this world only––the warm earth in the moonlight, the trade wind in the coco palms––the surf on the reef, the fires at night and the drum throbbing in her heart, the natives dancing naked and innocent without knowledge of sin. She has the moments of rapture in her life when Peter is in her arms : “Oh, Peter, hold me close to you. I want to feel love ! Love is all beautiful !” On another occasion she says : “Hold me close, Peter ! Nothing matters but love, does it ? That must come first ! No price is too great, is it ? Or for peace...I love everything that grows simply––up toward the sun––everything ‘that’s straight and strong!”
A Different Mannon
Being deprived of the last straw of hope in her life in Peter, Lavinia locks herself within the haunted Mannon house. She is conscious of the fact that she is not going the way her mother and. brother went because, she says, they sought to escape punishment. But she does not want to escape punishment and she, being the last Mannon, she has to punish herself. And her punishment is also queer : “Living alone here with the dead is a worse act of justice than death or prison ! I’ll never go out or see anyone ! I’ll have the shutters nailed closed so no sunlight can ever get in. I’ll five alone with the dead, and keep their secrets, and let them hound me, until the curse is paid out and the last Mannon is let die !”