On the subject of Wicked Women

Hallie O'Donovan hallieod at indigo.ie
Tue May 22 13:07:17 EDT 2001

>Since we started talking about Laurel again, this is a response to an old
>old discussion in which Hallie dared, yet again, to disagree with me.

Just in case anyone reading this is thinking that they must remember 
never to disagree with Melissa - "just *look* at the mess Hallie got 
herself into" - I must say that I asked Melissa to send this to the 
list, after she'd sent it privately to me.  :)  I would much rather 
be disagreed with, out lucid-argumented, and shown up as just 
Altogether Wrong by Melissa than not to hear her slant on things. 
(This is not declaring Open Season on Hallie, BTW, just saying that 
Melissa does it so nicely!)

>(Note: in case you were wondering, it is an Old Old Joke that Melissa is
>Always Right.  This stems from the fact that I occasionally channel the
>spirit of Daisy Parker.  So now you know.)

Daisy Parker from the Bagthorpe books, right?  I read this blearily 
at 6:30 and did a strange mental loop around Daisy from the 
Bagthorpes, no, that famous personality, NO, Daisy from the 
Bagthorpes.  Quite painful, actually.

[Just to fly completely tangential to this thread for a minute, we 
have recently re-decorated our bathroom/loo/whatever.  With a couple 
of markers and reference to a bunch of our favourite books.  Facing 
you as you walk in is:  All the bees are ded.  Amen.   Across from 
the mirror (cool huh!) is Nowhere, Now Here and Here Now.  And then 
again in mirror writing.  Ok, there's a lot more writing on the 
walls, but I'll stop with that now.]

>Melissa wrote:
>>>You know, I rather like Laurel.  She's the bad guy, but she's not evil--just
>>>totally alien.  She's cruel, but fair (in both senses).  It hints at a whole
>>>realm of Faerie that we never see except in the glimpses of Laurel's life.
>>I tried to resist doing this, but, do you _really_, Melissa?  I find Laurel
>>totally evil, largely because she feels so very unalien to me.  I know
>>she's the Queen of Faerie and all, but I suppose she seems so like a lot of
>>people that I always think of her as human - in all the worst ways.  That
>>belief that one is entitled, because of being prettier, richer, having
>>achieved more, is frighteningly prevalent at the moment in my experience.
>>And fair?  Only when she sets the rules so that she'll win - or when she's
>>playing with other people's money, as Christopher says in The Perilous
>>OOH, I'd agree with everything you said if it were applied to the Lady in
>>The Perilous Gard...
>The funny thing is, I agree with everything you say, but in reverse.  That
>is, I see the Lady of _The Perilous Gard_ as the one who is very human, and
>Laurel as the alien one.

[snipped just to stop this being too long]

>On the other hand, I do like her as a *character*.  I agree that she looks
>like the kind of privileged wealthy debutante snob who assumes that she
>deserves more, is more worthy, because of her position and wealth.  But
>because she isn't human, I think it's reasonable (from her point of view) to
>think so.  (Sidebar: The idea that Laurel is not human is, in my mind,
>implicit in the text.  It's possible that she IS in fact human with
>otherworldly powers, but I think this is one element which is lifted whole
>from the faerie stories of Tam Lin and Thomas the Rhymer.)  I don't *agree*
>with her.  But there are ways that she genuinely is different from other
>humans.  She behaves the way she does because that's how the Faerie are.
>Which is why I say it hints at aspects of the Faerie realm that we never
>see.  Laurel's evil because she does things for her own benefit that make
>humans suffer.  But to me that seems a lot like a spider preying on a
>fly--something she does because of her nature.

Ok, I now see totally what you were saying.  What I found interesting 
in why I didn't cop on to it, is the lack of - oh, Glamour 
surrounding Faerie in F&H.  Though there's probably a better way of 
expressing it.  This is *not* any kind of criticism of F&H, count me 
as one of the fervent admirers, just something I hadn't really 
noticed before.  There's just nowhere (oh, dear.  Not intended. 
Yikes!  How on earth do we manage to talk when DWJ has put extra 
meaning on so many words?)  Try again.  I find it hard to see any 
allure in Laurel's world; in fact it seems as if everyone has to be 
under a spell (even Leslie) or just taken to become part of it. 
Except for those who seek to escape death, like Mr. Leroy.

Ok, there's a question for you: if you think Laurel is *not* human, 
then what about Mr. Leroy and the others in the Court?  (Not saying I 
disagree about Laurel, just not sure yet.)

Back to the point I was making before the question, it seems that 
Faerie has pretty little to offer if all the Queen gets is life with 
a decaying Mr. Leroy.  Yuck!  For all the cold heartlessness of the 
court in _The Perilous Gard_, I can still see the appeal.  Especially 
on the Dancing Night.

So, I don't know where that leaves me, quite.  Except glad that you 
brought this up, and followed it up, Melissa.  Thanks again.


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