‘Poor’ Narrators

There are numerous interesting patterns to note within this section of reading, but I will focus on two. The first being Miss Clack’s similarity to Gabriel Betteredge, the other being the constant usages of ‘poor’.

Although in the first chapter Miss Clack sees Betteredge as being “long, too long, tolerated”(p203) as a servant, she herself and as a narrator is quite similar to him. At a fundamental level they are alike in their class, below that of the Verinders. Miss Clack too has been obliged to write this account, and claims that she is writing it just as how she witnessed everything and as written in her diary. However, she, similar to Betteredge, does impose a substantial amount of her own opinions. In describing Rachel’s retraction from Godfrey in chapter two, Miss Clack writes; “I declare like some hunted animal!” (p217). Until the end chapters (of this section), Miss Clack is not overly fond of Rachel, being perturbed at times by her messy hair, her rudeness, and in general Miss Clack feels sorry for her. On page 220, she describes Rachel as being a “miserable and misguided girl”, as well as “impulsive Rachel”.

Akin to Betteredge and the dinner scene in Period One, Miss Clack imposes herself on the wealthy. She brings it upon herself to give Mrs. Verinder readings, and thinks they are better than the ‘amusing’ ones the doctor said she should read. On pages 232 and 233 it describes how she even places them all around the house, and then devises a plans with letters once the books are returned.

Both Miss Clack and Betteredge understand, if not always apparent at times, their place on the social ladder. She understands the social norms of her position. When her and Rachel are in conversation in chapter seven, she says “Any open reference to the question, on my part, would have been premature at this stage of our reconciliation” (p251). She knows to tread lightly and that it isn’t her place to intrude.

As in Betteredge’s narration, Miss Clack often uses the word ‘poor’. However, it is used both in the sense of lacking wealth, as well as a person being pitied. Rachel and Mrs. Verinder also use it in this sense of pity. I noticed the use of the word poor on many pages (for example: 208, 210, 220, 232, 236,). Miss Clack uses the word ‘poor’ to describe herself, both as not being wealthy on page 201, and as decreasingly powerful compared to Mr. Bruff on page 225. Miss Clack also narrates that her aunt is “poor Lady Verinder” (p221), her “poor misguided relative” (p232) and a “poor soul” (p236). She pities her simple naivety, among other attributes. Lady Verinder refers to Rachel as being her “poor child” (p222), and ironically Rachel refers to her “poor mother’s lifetime” on page 250.

 

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