Glass Books Question #3 ~ The Times

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Glass Books Question #3 ~ The Times

Unread postby Liz » Wed Jan 07, 2009 12:07 pm

How are elements of this story diametrically opposed to the Victorian era?

Does it work better being set in the Victorian era or would it have been better set in current times?
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Re: Glass Books Question #3 ~ The Times

Unread postby Peachy » Wed Jan 07, 2009 12:45 pm

Interesting one Liz!
I'll have a go.

I think the freedom and dominance that several of the female characters appear to have are somewhat in contrast with the Victorian era. I must say I welcomed this contrast.
Also some of the descriptions of the sumptuous St Royale, the grandeur of Harschmort House, the extravagant womens' clothing also would perhaps have been out of place.

I thought too that some of the medical/technological knowledge may be ahead of the times.

Although some of these things seem incongrous I nevertheless think the setting is perfect - it provides the dark, brooding, prohibitive backdrop to the story. To me it wouldn't have had the same appeal if it had been set in more modern times and would have been just too incongruous if it had been set in earlier times.
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Re: Glass Books Question #3 ~ The Times

Unread postby trygirl » Wed Jan 07, 2009 1:12 pm

Well, I think the obvious way some of the elements oppose the Victorian era is through the book's heroine Miss Temple. This time period didn't favor women stepping outside of the social norm. Women were expected to be homemakers, pure, apart from matters of sex and prostitution and here is this woman thrust into the middle of a man's world and thriving. While Victorian women are supposed to be weak, she's strong. She defended herself against brutal rape and murder, is now carrying a gun, and has aligned herself with men below her respectability. Miss Temple is definitely not the typical woman of the era. And she has her own money which was unheard of in Victorian society because women had to give their fortunes to their partners. Celeste is almost an anachronism.

But it's not just Celeste who re-defines their role, it's the male heroes as well. Just look at Cardinal Chang. Victorian men were "gentlemen" with Christian values and beliefs and the only thing Christian about Chang is his name. And he's not a gentlemen. While Dr. Svenson had a problem saying certain things in Miss Temple's presence, Chang did not.

And Victorian men were thought of as overtly masculine but neither Chang nor Dr. Svenson fits that description. Dr. Svenson is a military man but only in name. As both characters have feminine elements about them. Typical men of the era like the Comte wear furs while Chang wears a shiny, red coat. Men of the era didn't favor color, unlike women. And Dr. Svenson, a military man, is more cautious than Miss Temple.

So to make a long story short :lol:, I think the story works better in the Victorian era. In this day and age, there are a lot of examples of female heroism in this world but not so during Miss Temple's time. It means more to her to be able to do these things, to have these adventures. It makes the journey all the more exciting and poignant.
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Re: Glass Books Question #3 ~ The Times

Unread postby Liz » Wed Jan 07, 2009 1:37 pm

Peachy wrote: To me it wouldn't have had the same appeal if it had been set in more modern times and would have been just too incongruous if it had been set in earlier times.


trygirl wrote:In this day and age, there are a lot of examples of female heroism in this world but not so during Miss Temple's time. It means more to her to be able to do these things, to have these adventures. It makes the journey all the more exciting and poignant.


I agree with both of you. I don’t think it would work as well if set in this day and age because it would not be noteworthy. These events staged back in the Victorian era are more shocking, titillating and filled with surprises.

We will be discussing our 3 main characters in more depth beginning tomorrow.
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Re: Glass Books Question #3 ~ The Times

Unread postby ladylinn » Wed Jan 07, 2009 3:00 pm

I believe the victorian setting is perfect for the story. Miss Temple has to show strong character beyond the age to overcome the trials she faces. Where in modern setting not so unusual. Chang is just Chang and could fit into either modern or victorian - a rouge to say the least. And the Dr. seems more gentlemanly and fitting for the victorian age.

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Re: Glass Books Question #3 ~ The Times

Unread postby Jackslady » Wed Jan 07, 2009 4:28 pm

The whole point of the story for me is that it reads like a Victorian Gothic novel - dark, mysterious and disturbing.

In the modern world, most people have the means to satisfy their sexual desires..many women for example, now behave like men in terms of being sexually free. For a Victorian lady to view "pornography" as Miss Temple does via the blue glass cards for example, would have been something truly shocking. The "process" used by the Cabal is all the more provocative because the story is set in Victorian times - the present day equivalent would probably involve an injection or some sort of blood transfusion - not nearly so horrifying or dramatic as the grinding machine, the rubber mask over the face, the straps, etc. (I have to say I've found some of these scenes a bit stomach churning!).
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Re: Glass Books Question #3 ~ The Times

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Wed Jan 07, 2009 4:33 pm

Jackslady, I was just typing this up as you were posting... :lol:

Not only does Miss Temple stand out because of her uncharacteristic female independence I think the premise of the story itself works as a good contrast to the prim and proper Victorian Era. The promiscuity would be less shocking if the tale were set in modern times as well as the medical technology which seems so horrific as opposed to what probalby would have been a simple shot or brain stimulus if set in the present. Therefore the overall effect of the "process" was much scarier to me.
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Re: Glass Books Question #3 ~ The Times

Unread postby Theresa » Wed Jan 07, 2009 4:39 pm

There's also all that wandering around in huge old mansions by candlelight or lamplight (or in some cases, matchlight). Makes everything more appropriately creepy. Flipping a switch to turn on the lights just wouldn't have the same impact.

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Re: Glass Books Question #3 ~ The Times

Unread postby nebraska » Wed Jan 07, 2009 7:34 pm

I agree the Victorian setting was more appropriate to the story -- horse drawn carriages, trains with private compartments, voluminous petticoats, big houses like castles, all those things........ the fog and the chill almost created themselves in that setting.

Miss Temple came from "the island", an outsider more or less. Although she attempted to fit the proper mold of betrothed young Victorian lady and sheltered niece, she didn't quite fit the profile. So it was easier to accept her spirit of adventure, and because it took place in that era, it was all the more exciting because it was so unusual.

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Re: Glass Books Question #3 ~ The Times

Unread postby Linda Lee » Wed Jan 07, 2009 8:55 pm

I have to agree the victorian setting is perfect for the novel. It makes it more exciting and more probable that it could be kept secret. In our time, communication is so rapid on a global basis it would have been more difficult to hide a conspiracy of this size and less interesting and shocking as has been said.
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Re: Glass Books Question #3 ~ The Times

Unread postby gemini » Wed Jan 07, 2009 8:57 pm

I also would have to agree with what has been said so far about the story fitting better in the Victorian era than modern times. The "process" would not seem quite so horrendous in modern times, as it does in the Victorian era.

Even though the times were prim and proper, people are not so different. As for the promiscuity being less shocking in modern times, I recall some of the books discussion of how men should pick a wife to care for his home and go to the brothel or have a mistress for the rest, seems to cover a lot of eras we have read.

Miss Temple was overly independent for her age. She was supposed to have a chaperone but she didn't let propriety slow her in venturing off on her own. What Dahlqusit did was show that envy, lust , greed, power and even pride are the same in any age. Their prim and proper way of speaking was one of the things I found so monotonous to read though. I hope the reality of their lives did not move at such a pace in those days. If so, they needed a bit of adventure
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Re: Glass Books Question #3 ~ The Times

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Wed Jan 07, 2009 10:12 pm

You all bring up the most interesting and insightful ideas! :cool:

Theresa, good point about the light…or lack thereof! Cue the creepy music! :-O

Nebraska, your comment about Miss Temple being an outsider which allows her character more freedom is an interesting one. She will be on our radar in a couple of days with a question all her own.

Linda Lee, as far as communication goes just the inclusion of a walkie talkie could have changed the whole story, much less a cell phone or a computer!

gemini wrote:
What Dahlqusit did was show that envy, lust , greed, power and even pride are the same in any age. Their prim and proper way of speaking was one of the things I found so monotonous to read though. I hope the reality of their lives did not move at such a pace in those days. If so, they needed a bit of adventure.


Some human characteristics never change, eh? :-/
Can I add the word “mate” at the end of your last sentence?
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Re: Glass Books Question #3 ~ The Times

Unread postby Beatrix » Wed Jan 07, 2009 11:55 pm

trygirl wrote:Well, I think the obvious way some of the elements oppose the Victorian era is through the book's heroine Miss Temple. This time period didn't favor women stepping outside of the social norm. Women were expected to be homemakers, pure, apart from matters of sex and prostitution and here is this woman thrust into the middle of a man's world and thriving. While Victorian women are supposed to be weak, she's strong. She defended herself against brutal rape and murder, is now carrying a gun, and has aligned herself with men below her respectability. Miss Temple is definitely not the typical woman of the era. And she has her own money which was unheard of in Victorian society because women had to give their fortunes to their partners. Celeste is almost an anachronism.

I agree. Women were seen as fragile and pretty much helpless. I can’t imagine they would be strong like Celeste and some of the other female characters in the story. She is definitely a fascinating character for a story set in that period. In a few of the passages it’s obvious she uses her money as a source of power.

I also think the story worked best set in the Victorian era. It wouldn’t be as provocative if it was in a set in current times.

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Re: Glass Books Question #3 ~ The Times

Unread postby suec » Thu Jan 08, 2009 1:30 pm

I like the Victorian setting. Partly for the gothic feel, but also because it was the Age of Invention too, with some technological progress having quite an horrific impact - children working in mines and factories, for example. So the diabolical impact of the inventions, and the abuse and exploitation, seem to tie in with that for me. Also it corresponds with the invention of photography and appearance of the pornographic photos. And the ratio of prostiutes to men was surprisingly high. I forget precisely what: something like 7:1 in London? It was the era of From Hell after all. There was a flipside to Victorian respectability which is all too appropriate.
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Re: Glass Books Question #3 ~ The Times

Unread postby Liz » Thu Jan 08, 2009 2:01 pm

suec wrote:Also it corresponds with the invention of photography and appearance of the pornographic photos. And the ratio of prostiutes to men was surprisingly high. I forget precisely what: something like 7:1 in London?

Wow! I had no idea. That is an incredibly high ratio. Very :interesting:


suec wrote:It was the era of From Hell after all. There was a flipside to Victorian respectability which is all too appropriate.

I think that is why it worked so well in this book.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.


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