Great 667 Re-Read: Part 12.5-The Beatrice Letters Sept 8, 2009 12:32:41 GMT -5
Post by Dante on Sept 8, 2009 12:32:41 GMT -5
And I agree, hence my use of "may." I simply consider that, since the setting is fictional, the geographic relation of real places to it is not a great problem. The series is set exactly where it needs to be, wherever that should be.
I'm sure I was taught as a child that tubers are not the same as root vegetables. But maybe definitions can vary - I believe 'vegetable' is not a biological term anyway.
Wikipedia, the most immediately available source, agrees that "vegetable" isn't a scientific term, and a quick Googling suggests that few people see it as problematic that potatoes be considered a root vegetable. Not, you understand, that I'm attempting to argue that Handler never makes mistakes - but there's not a great deal one can do when large numbers of people are entirely willing to believe a mistaken impression. We can't blame just one of them.
So why did B breafk off the engagement? We were earlier told 'because of an article she read in the Daily Punctilio', and the obvious reading of that is that she believed the accusation. But this letter doesn't, to me, read like that. It does not sound as if the recipient sees the sender as an enemy; it is not full of protestations of innocence - one of the answers may be one, but clearly Lemony thinks 'No' is enough - and the warning 'Are you certain your co-star is one of us?' only makes sense if they are on the same side. And he seems to expect her to agree about Olaf's villainy. Was it perhaps to do with Beatrice's parents? 'the outrage of certain parents' might be linked with the reference to 'the Baudelaire parents' in TGG if, as I suspect, 'Baudelaire' was her maiden name. Another possibility is that she suspected Lemony for a while, and then was ashamed of it - or decided that she could not marry him if she did not trust him completely.
I think the onus is quite evidently on Beatrice - she is the one who broke up with Lemony, and not vice-versa. I think the main problem we come to here is whether Beatrice is as perfect as Lemony thinks she is - or, to look at it from a different angle, whether either Baudelaire parent is as wonderful as their children think they are. "It is often difficult to admit that someone you love is not perfect, or to consider aspects of a person that are less than admirable." Did Beatrice or did she not have good reasons for breaking off her engagement with Lemony? Was her love less than his? Was Bertrand honourable and upstanding throughout? How much did they love one another, and how do we reconcile the differing opinions of them as parents and parent-murderers? These are grey areas in human understanding, and we never see these characters directly anyway - if you like, because we haven't met them for ourselves, we cannot judge them for ourselves (to turn on a claim in TPP).
One may well ask the question, if Lemony accepts, as he says he does, Beatrice's reasons for being unable to marry him, why does he write back at all? What does he want from her - and what does she want from him? Respect and forgiveness?
It must be said that, regardless of Lemony's guilt or lack thereof, Beatrice cannot marry him if he is a fugitive who is in hiding overseas. So that, at least, may form part of the puzzle. She wasn't willing to wait for him. There may nonetheless be elements of suspicion in there as well - not only has Lemony gone away, but she cannot trust him, either. One imagines that Beatrice's motives must have been very complex if they required two hundred pages to explain.
(I hope you aren't taking the "LS to BB" stamps as evidence; they're part of the design, not the writing. And it's not as if the younger Beatrice should technically be called Beatrice Baudelaire either.)
From the ring, it looks as if all Duchesses of Winnipeg are called R.
An idea which just occurred to me is that the family surname might have begun with an R before they arose to the aristocracy... but we can't trace the ring back earlier than R.'s mother, and in this series there's nothing implausible about many individuals having the same initials. I suppose their surname would technically be Winnipeg now? I think that's how it works.
The co-star - I agree that this is probably Bertrand. I hope there is more to L's suspicion of him that just jealousy; on the whole, it's an admirable characteristic of his that he is not hostile to Bertrand despite his obvious reasons to be. But perhaps it's not just that Beatrice has been showing affection for him, but that he has actually been urging her to break it off with Lemony - that might well make L suspicious of his motives.
This relates to the problem I highlighted earlier - can we reconcile a conniving and seductive Bertrand with the Baudelaire father we've seen glimpses of over the series, and who the Baudelaire orphans so love? Probably - but it leaves a nasty taste. The same goes for Beatrice - if she loved Lemony enough to marry him, how is it that she ends up so happily married to Bertrand? It's not fairy-tale.
OK; the questions. Clearly B is trying to send some kind of message through these questions; she isn't asking 'What is a baticeer?' or 'How many siblings are there in your family?' because she wants to know. But L - though he knows more than us - is still in the dark about the full message, because he hasn't read the sonnet; and when he finds it, many years later, it is too late. (Too late for what, I am not sure; not to save his relationship with B, which was already over.)
I don't think the sonnet can have been significant in itself, because Beatrice and Lemony met the very evening after he had a copy of the sonnet in his hands, so if it had any immediate significance she would have raised the issue then. So I think its meaning or significance is purely retrospective and in relation to something else entirely. That said, I think many of the questions are more to elicit a reaction from the reader than to contribute to any overall meaning, and the sonnet itself seems to be a general commentary on TBL that forms a nice way of rounding it off. So overall I'm becoming cynical here about the thirteen questions. For Lemony's failure to read the sonnet, the fact that Beatrice composed it may suggest, to her or to the audience, some deficiency on Lemony's own part. Since I suggested earlier that Beatrice is in some way attempting to test Lemony's character, this may be significant.
But I like the idea of Bela. I think, though, that Bela is a boy, so if it's a girl I have no idea.
Hmm, a gender isn't specified but "Bela" a bit of research indicates that it can be used for either gender... and I'd always assumed the (one-off, never mentioned again) character was female, probably because of the similarity to "Bella." (And I'm not the only one... as if that makes any difference to what Handler intended.)
But the dropping of the hatpin links it with the play discussed in letter 3. So it looks as if they are, after all, the same play. Why B wore a butterfly costume while playing a baticeer, and why L now says her costume was splendid when earlier he didn't like it, I can't say.)
I don't see it as extraordinary that multiple plays may have had costumes that include hatpins, or even that Beatrice might wear hatpins ordinarily and not as part of her costume, thus enabling her to have one on-hand even in a play in which one was not vital. So I still wouldn't link the butterfly costume to My Silence Knot. There's the hatpin for it, and everything else against it. At that, the hatpin is only included at that point to establish its role in setting up Lemony and Beatrice's meetings and to have a photograph of it which can be one of the anagram's letters.