The concepts of social class and loss of innocence are two main issues highlighted by the author in the novel. He influences the reader to form criticisms through the construction of his characters, and the events that take place. The sequences of events that lead up to the discovery of Ted and Marians covert relationship are represented by various uses of symbolism. As L. P. Hartley reminds us The Go-between is pregnant with symbols. The deadly nightshade is the most obvious one.
The Belladonna, throughout the novel, represents sexual symbolism. Leos encounter with the belladonna is another stage towards his loss of innocence. The plant in its own right is symbolic of the sexual relationship between Ted and Marian, urged by a secret explosive force that I felt would burst them, this represents the fact that both Ted and Marian are trying against all odds to keep their relationship secret but it must have been very hard for them to suppress their feelings about each other, leading to the discovery of their affair.
Despite the social conventions of the time Ted and Marian have realised and accepted the attraction they have the force that drew them together, however when referring to the belladonna we see how deadly their sexual attraction can actually be, especially after going against what was regarded as the social norms of the time.
We see that the belladonna had battened on the heat which had parched everything else, the word battened here suggests aggression in two different contexts, one being the aggression that can be expressed through sexual behaviour and another being the struggle that Ted and Marian had to go through to fight with the social restraints of the time. This brings me unto another word mentioned in this quote, which is heat; this depicts social restraints and shows that, and Ted and Marians relationship, like the belladonna was able to survive.
Leos attraction to the belladonna represents his initial attraction to Marian It was like a lady; it also shows his different changing feelings towards Marian but not prepared for the tumult of emotions it aroused in me. As G. E. Brown reminds us evil and beauty are to be expected within Marian, just as they are found in the plantThe mixture of qualities in the makeup of Marians character affects Leo strongly L. P. Hartley also saw Marian in relation to the plant I began to identify Marian with the deadly nightshade. I was almost on top of the outhouses before I saw the thick blur of the deadly nightshade.
It was like a lady standing in her doorway looking out for someone. I was prepared to dread it, but not prepared for the tumult of emotions it aroused in me. I should learn its secret and it would learn mine. There are many points in this passage that depict Leos loss of innocence. Statements such as thick blur show Leos confusion about the subject of sexuality. The use of sexual connotations in this passage, such as aroused highlights this point. Words such as and secret also reinforce the idea of Leos curiosity into the subject, which is another step away from his childish innocence.
The idea of him either being a man or still a boy is suggested by the break up in the passage, which is a reflection of the point Leo has reached in his life I was prepared to dread it, but not prepared for the tumult of emotions it aroused in me. As a child he was frightened by the belladonna but he was not prepared for the way it would actually make him feel, which again reinforces the idea of Leo gradually losing his innocence. I stood on the threshold this again stresses on a stage between childhood and adulthood.
The plant was much less strong than I supposed: I fought with I got hold of it: I got hold of its main stem and snapped it off. There was a swish; a soft, sighing fall of leaf on leaf; a swirl, a debris of upturned leaves, knees deep all round me: and standing up among them, the torn stem. I seized it with all my might In this passage we see how there is an ominous sense to Leo snapping of the main stem as it portrays the end of male sexuality. In destroying the plant, which represents the relationship, he also destroys Ted, a prominent figure of male sexuality, and himself, as he abstains from relationships when he gets older I turned away.
Another hint of Leos loss of innocence is described when he stretched he hand into the thick darkness and felt the shoots and leaves close softly on it. Phallic imagery such as this shows Leos sexual exploration of the plant, whilst onomatopoeic words such as swish, soft and sighing add effect to the images associated with sex. Throughout the novel Leos innocence as a child is stressed through other factors, for example his idealisation of Marian in comparison to his idealisation of the Zodiac, As for the Virgin, the one distinctively female figure in the galaxy, I can scarcely say what she meant to me.
Leos concept of Marian being like a virgin shows his childish interest. We see how he always refers to Marian using positive connotations, her face lit up This however is until towards the end of the novel where he starts to lose his childish interest It seemed to stand for something I had outgrown and therefore starts to lose trust in Marian the virgin of the Zodiac-how could she have sunk so low? His loss of interest in things like the haystack symbolises his loss of innocence Now the thought of the farmyard had lost its magic for me.
There are also various reminders of Leos age throughout the novel, which contribute to the emphasis of his loss of innocence. For example the conversations held between Leo and Marcus that contain the use of schoolboy slang prayer buggins. Leos obsession with nudity is another step towards losing his innocence My notions of decency were vague and ill-defined, as were all my ideas relating to sex, but we see that he has not fully come to understand this due to the tumult of emotions he is experiencing.
We see how Leos curiosity in trying to understand his identity both sexually and mentally leads him to sexually experiment the rhythmic rubbing half soothed and half excited me; it seemed to have ritual significance. We also recognise that as he gets older and we get further into the novel, he is gradually losing his innocence, It makes you feel something I did know: it was what I felt last night and gaining further knowledge with the help of Ted, on issues such as spooning.
Leos role as the go-between shows his innocence before he actually discovers the reason for passing on their notes, no hypothesis as why Marian and Ted Burgess exchanged their messages quite worked Business they both said. This is why Leo feels betrayed by Marian especially when he took pleasure in carrying her messages, To be of service to her was infinitely sweet to me. The heat, throughout the novel, mirrors the plot. It is very representative of the stages of Ted and Marians relationship which, like the heat rises to a climax, posing as the build up to their relationship being found out. that was one reason why I felt strange.
We had had cloudy days before, but not dull days, threatening rain. The heat, being another childish interest of Leo is also representative of suffocation in the upper social class thick black stockingsthe straps, put a double strain on the circulation of my legs. When looking at the previous quote, we see how particular words such as thick, straps and strain are suggestive of repression. Clothing in this quote also represents suffocation strain on the circulation of my legs, which is also symbolic as it portrays social restrictions. Marians suit, I remember, seemed to cover her far more completely than her evening dresses.
Leos awareness of social class throughout the novel is largely influenced by his very rigid societal surroundings. The 1900s were a time of strictly defined social structure and morals, many at the time were, like Leo, largely influenced by and aware of social conventions. Emily Brontes Catherine in Wuthering Heights is an example of this, And he will be rich, and I shall like to be the greatest woman of the neighbourhood, and I shall be proud of having such a husband. She is very aware of the kind of social position she will gain if she was to marry Edgar rather than Heathcliff.
Upon entering Brandam Hall Leo is affected by its residents and has to learn how to adapt to a social class higher than his, you mustnt come down to breakfast in your slippers. Its the sort of thing that bank clerks do. He seems to be very aware of his social inferiority, I had never told Marcus of my Fathers lowly social status. Therefore he lacks full understanding of how to fit into a class, which implements fairly different morals than his own. Hence, his embarrassment when questioned about his unsuitable dressing You are looking hot.
Havent you something cooler to wear why dont you take your jacket off – youd be more comfortable without it. As some critics of the book explain Leo’s clothes – of which he becomes self-conscious, and which represent his greater or less understanding of the social milieu he has entered. This is solely because of the way the most influential characters, for example Marcus; tend to look down on the lower social class. This is a criticism of the upper social class as it presents them as snobbish, condescending characters – the servants will pick them up – thats what theyre for.
Marcus, like Leo, is also aware of his social standing in society. His overall attitude towards those around him makes his character distasteful to the reader. He is a young boy who on many instances makes snobby, patronising remarks about those who are in the working class. He had a habit of speaking badly of people, especially those of a lower social status. This is another criticism as it encourages the reader to attack the upper social class. Marcuss behaviour is especially unattractive as he is a child. Mrs. Mausdley is representative of social class as we are reminded by critics of the film a woman (Mrs.
Maudsley) who seems to support the British class system all by herself, simply by her belief in it. She stands for everything that is morally right. Hartley portrays her as a strong matrifocal figure, which like Social class plays a strong part and has a big influence on the family as a whole; this is despite her lack of appearance during the novel. the stately ample figure of Mrs. Mausdley at one end of the table and the thin figure of her husbandShe always seemed to take up more space than was necessary to her, and he less
We see here that the dominance of social class is suggested through the description of Mrs. Maudsley, seemed to take up more space. Hartley also uses her unattractive, rigid, cold character That tense still look of hers that caught you in its searchlight beam! to form a criticism against the upper class, the readers are persuaded or encouraged to turn against the upper class because of her. We see how her rigid structure is broken down at the discovery of Ted and Marians affair, just as the broken social conventions are finally realised.
As David Shayer reminds us There is no natural reason why Marian should not marry Ted, but a complex code based on wealth, privilege and power makes it socially impossible. Mrs. Colston plays quite an important part in the social criticism of the lower working/middle class. She is very critical of her social standing and aspires to be in the upper class, she needed a social frame. She has a fixed idea of what the people in the upper class are like and is trying to prepare her son for what he may encounter at Brandham Hall.
She believes that knowing people from the upper class will open doors in the future, for her son, From what you have told me about them they would be very nice friends for you in after life doors that surely cannot be opened if one was in her class. As we find out in the novel Leo lacks a father figure in his life. Whilst at Brandam hall he meets two men whom he looks up to, one being from the upper social class and the other being from the working class. However this factor is just one among many contrasts between the two characters, as G. E. Brown reminds us Leos attitude is complicated by the admiration he feels for these men.
Trimingham, like Mrs. Maudsley, stands for those in the aristocracy; Leo respects his standing in society but also respects him for not behaving according to how a Lord in society would be labelled to behave I thought a Lord would be so proud. In a way Leo admires Trimingham more than Ted Burgess hes only a farmer. He looks down on his position in society, which makes us criticise the upper class once again because even Leo is being influenced by those around him and is looking down on others. He even admits that one of the reasons he thinks highly of Trimingham is because he is a Viscount.
However, he does look up to Ted as a sexual symbol And I liked Ted Burgess in a reluctant, half-admiring, half-hating waywhen I was with him his mere physical presence cast a spell on me. Hartleys presentation of Triminghams appearance is quite displeasing, On the side of his face turned to me was a sickle-shaped scar that ran from his eye to the corner of his mouth; it pulled the eye down, exposing a tract of glistening red under-lid This presentation of Trimingham portrays him as quite an ugly man and highlights the fact that Marian is only being forced to marry him because of his wealth.
This description of him, which is quite distasteful to the reader, is another way of Hartley trying to encourage criticism against members of the upper social class. However we see how Leo describes Ted as what a man ought to be. He is portrayed as a nice looking person who is sexually attractive, His muscles bunched, his face tense with effortthat powerful body Nevertheless Leo is repelled from Ted because of his social class. We see how Ted however is presented as the one who is free because of his class status whereas Trimingham represents upper class restrictions and conventions.
For example the first place we meet Trimingham is in the church, which is quite a structured, restricted institution, whereas we meet Ted at the swimming pool swimming freely. The way Hartley presents Ted also encourages the reader to warm towards his character. We warm up to him more than those in the upper class. This is a criticism against the upper social class, as we need to warm up to Ted in order to look down on or despise the snobbish behaviour of the upper class. The cricket match is a very significant occurrence in the novel as it is representative of social class criticism.
The cricket match highlights a match, basically between the rich and the poor. We have it every year. It helps to keep them quietthe conflict between Hall and villagestruggle between order and lawlessness, between obedience to traditionsocial stability and revolution this condescending comment encourages the reader to criticise the upper class because it is another way of trying to keep the working class in their place. Even the way Hartley has spelt Hall with a capital H and village with a lower case v shows or symbolises the upper class view on the working class. They belittle the status of those who live in the village.
The fact that the upper class ends up winning the cricket match is Hartleys way of presenting an upper class view, that everything was kept as it should be according to upper class morals/conventions. Here we are very critical of the upper class, which is, quite clearly turning an enjoyable game into a class struggle. The cricket match is also a time of class confusion for Leo as he is not too sure about whose side he is on I did not want to get him out. The knowledge made me feel guilty of disloyalty therefore we see that he still had some kind of connection and sympathy towards the working class.
The break down of Mrs. Maudsley is very symbolic of the crumbling social class structure. Mrs. Maudsley like the social class system appeared intact as she was approaching the outhouses, but unfortunately her clothing could not withstand the rain just like she would not be able to bear what she was about to find out. It was Mrs. Maudsleys repeated screams that frightened me, It was these screams, which represented and led to the breakdown in Leos relationship with the Maudsleys, Leos mental breakdown, which led to his abstinence, and an overall breakdown in social conventions.
Both social class and loss of innocence are very significant to Leo, he is trying to define the blurred boundaries between man and boy and upper/lower class. Leo himself comes to a point where he doesnt understand exactly which category he belongs to To see things as they really were what an impoverishment! Chafed in my flesh, chafed in my spirit, I wandered aimlessly about with Marcus, half wishing that he would barge into me, or call me names, or practise his superior French on me, instead of wrapping me in the cotton-wool of his society manner.
So one could say that both social class and loss of innocence are as important as each other, as the two issues are largely integrated throughout the novel. However, social class does appear to be more important in the novel, despite Leos exposure to an adult love affair. Hartley has shaped many of Leos responses in the novel according to social class. This concept appears to be one that Leo is more concerned about in regards to fitting into a class higher than his. You know that Ted and I were lovers: we were. But we werent ordinary lovers, not lovers in the vulgar sense, not in the way people make love today.
Our love was a beautiful thing, wasnt it? I mean, we gave up everything for each other. One could say that the reason why she believed their love was so special was purely because they had to break all social conventions of the time to pursue their relationship. They were faced with an ultimatum of either their love for each other or their social positions. Unfortunately both lovers chose their love for each other and suffered dire consequences. This was as a result of the social conventions of the Edwardian social class system, being the stronger issue at the time.