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Written by Braga Lena
This idea of coolness is what seems to characterize Gwendolen the best. She is seen as calm, collected, glacial even and self-composed. She is not easy to read and because of this, many consider her as being dangerous. Coolness becomes a motif since the first chapters of the book and becomes the term most associated with Gwendolen.
Gwendolen is compared to a serpent during the night she lost everything while she gambled. This motif is maintained and even her walk is compared to the moves the serpent has. This image transmits the idea that many see Gwendolen as beautiful and irresistible but powerful and dangerous also and that makes them be wary of her.
For her family, Gwendolin represents stability. They look up to her and her mother admits in the letter she sent Gwendolin after they found that they were financially ruined that things would have been better if she would have been home with them and that they depend on her to take care of the problems that appeared in their life. Gwendolin acts according to her mother’s expectations and appears collected around her friends even if she is not sure that she will be able to help her family.
We have two completely points of view regarding marriage presented in the book so the idea of marriage receives a double symbolism. For Gwendolen’s mother and uncle, marriage is something to be desired, the only way to be happy. Even though she didn’t have happy marriages, Gwendolen’s mother still believes that marriage is all that takes to make someone happy. Gwendolen on the other hand refuses to think that her happiness depends on getting married. She sees marriage as a symbol equal with lack of liberty and confinement. In this sense, Gwendoles is a modern woman who thinks she can get through life on her own, without depending too much on a man.
Dogs are seen as the symbol for loyalty for Grandcourt. He has numerous dogs and he enjoys the power he has over them. A character who is reduced to the status of a dog is Lush, the man who served Grandcour for many years. He is extremely loyal, to the point where he doesn’t say anything when Grandcour treats him as a dog.
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