Beauty - with SPOILERS for F & H

Hallie O'Donovan hallieod at
Fri Jan 21 08:28:58 EST 2000

Melissa wrote:
(Just kidding.  I start
>getting nervous when I post these really long, "people must
>be getting really really sick of hearing me babble by this time, why can't I
>just shut up and do something useful for a change?"  And so forth.)

Uh, no, Melissa, I don't think there has ever been the slightest hint of
anyone thinking that you were babbling, or being sick of anything you
wrote.  :-)

I know I promised to shut up, but that was only on the topic of _Beauty_.
I certainly never lay it on myself to be quiet about Fire and Hemlock, and
it would take Laurel herself to lay it on me.  And I think she's otherwise
engaged than reading this list. (My, but wouldn't she HATE it - glorious

>>I think the situations are similar.  The beginning of each relationship (Tom
>>and Polly, Beauty and the Beast) is one where the man forces the woman into
>>a relationship for purely selfish reasons.  Tom latched on to Polly purely
>>as a possible means of getting free of Laurel;

I think Tom's behaviour is quite different.  No, that's a comparison. Let
me rephrase.  I think this is one of the points where DWJ has dragged the
story away from the original Tam Lin, in which Tam is pretty vile.  (Though
possibly that's to be read as his "not being his own man"/having lost his
soul, temporarily?).  The beginning of Tom and Polly's relationship is at
the funeral.  I suppose it could be argued that Tom saw that Polly was
going to be the one capable of rescuing him from Laurel, though that's
Polly's gift.  Maybe you could even read it that he spoke her into being
the one, by looking across the room and saying to himself that she was the
one who could save him.  I'd find that pretty far-fetched, but either is a
possible interpretation.  Even if you chose the latter, his action would
still have been innocent, as he didn't come to realize his "gift" from
Laurel until much later.

Interesting, I never thought of Polly's choosing the pictures as being the
first evidence of *her* gift for seeing things before.  Again, you could
just argue that she merely had inherently good artistic taste.

Still on the funeral though, I've always seen Tom's inviting her out of the
room, and wanting her company, (which Polly recognizes as his excuse for
coming out of the funeral himself), as his being the type of person at this
stage who can't quite justify doing something just because *he* wants to.
He really is being kind to Polly and wants to help her, but also
desperately wants an out.  He just isn't capable yet of saying to himself
that there's no earthly reason he should stay in that room with that
perfectly hateful group of people.  I suppose it's almost like an early
stage on his path to being a hero - he needs to rescue someone else to be
able to help himself.  Or, again, an alternative might be simply that he's
so drained from getting away from Laurel, that's he has no more energy left
to expend on extricating himself in the smaller situation.

Later, of course, when it's pointed out to him that he's using Polly and
that it isn't fair to her, he immediately takes himself off.  And it's
painful to him as well as to her, but he does what he feels he has to in
order not to hurt her.  Despite the fact that, again IMO, he's quite aware
that he very likely will die without Polly's help.  Or whatever Laurel's
version of his death is.

But back to the beginning: "forces her into a relationship"?  I don't read
it that way.  The only time she doesn't want to go with him is before she
talks to him, when she thinks he's spotted her as an intruder.  But after
that she says quite clearly that she likes him.  In fact, I've just re-read
that tiny portion, where Polly describes her reasons for not running off,
and it's perfect!  He plays the part of the hero, in rescuing her from the
funeral, and she recognizes it, and yet she plays the hero, in rescuing him
from having to return to it.  But only in the palest, most shadowy form of
their later heroic roles, as all each is able to do for the other so far is
provide an excuse.

By the time Polly's switched the pictures... No, I'd better leave it there,
because once I start babbling like this about the wonder of each small
scene, I may never finish!

hallieod at

To unsubscribe, email dwj-request at with the body "unsubscribe".
Visit the archives at

More information about the Dwj mailing list