The Virgin and the Gypsy

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This novel is very intriguing and teaches lessons of morality, religion, and of life and death intended for those with imagination and insight. The author’s style contributes deeply to the intrigue and true meaning to this novel. The author’s use of imagery makes tensions in the story vivid and emphatic. In this story there is a re-occurring tension between religion and desire. The tension between religion and desire is most clearly demonstrated between the characters of Yvette and the rector. Yvette was brought up in a world of religious conventions and beliefs, an environment of forgiveness, love, and morality. This world is later realized to truly be a world of repression towards all feelings of passion and desire; not the environment of forgiveness, love, and morality Yvette and the readers are lead to believe. This starts the conflict between religion and desire, and confuses Yvette greatly because her religious upbringing denies and contradicts all her natural instincts of love, passion, and sexuality. The rector and Yvette do not share the same understanding of love. They are both very different in their thoughts and expressions, of what love is. The narrator in the story tells us what the rector thinks of Cynthia, his lost wife. He describes her as “the pure white snow-flower” (p.6) and expresses that her husband thought of her “on inaccessible heights…that she was throned in lone splendor aloft their lives, never to be touched” (p.7) This would have the reader believe that Cynthia is considered in the rector’s eyes to be like god not bodily in his life. At another point in the novel the narrator informs the reader that the rector believes Cynthia to be sacred and that she was enshrined in his heart, as if she were a religious idol, never simply expressing any love or desire for his lost wife. It’s like the rector has moral religious love for his lost wife, and not passion or desire, like the love Yvette feels for the gypsy. When Yvette matures and realizes that she feels differently than her family, she undergoes a change in her heart, and attitude. Yvette’s father picks up on her change and resents her for it because the rector wishes Yvette to be pure and clean like him, or her sister Lucille who turned out the way the rector intended. Therefore not expressing or experiencing true love. The gypsy also wishes for Yvette to be pure and clean, but in a completely different way than the rector. He wishes for her to be pure to her desires and emotions. Her wants and need to be seen or recognized as a woman of flesh and blood, and not a symbol of innocence like the way her father molded Lucille. Life and death are also described very well with imagery. Cynthia was described as a sign of life, because she was true to her heart and her desires, while the matter was described as a symbol of death. The contrast between Cynthia and the matter is very descriptive and reflects the author’s use of imagery very well. The narrator describes Cynthia as a “great glow, a flow of life”…”like a sun in the home”…” always associating her presence with brightness….and glamour.”(pgs.5-8). These descriptions of Cynthia give a sense of life and warmth. The author created an image for the reader so wonderfully that when this glamorous creature left; she took all life with her. The rector turned bitter and resentful because in the rector’s eyes Cynthia conveyed purity and freshness, when she left she took all her pure qualities with her and she left behind a “nettle”, a “toad”, and a “gross” woman to take her place, the matter. In contrast to Cynthia the matter appears to be destructive, ugly, nosy, and insignificant, the utmost representation of death. It is when the matter comes to take over the lives of the Saywell’s they all move to the...
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