HI. I’m feeling things!!! This is an unfairly dead blog. I’m not currently smart enough to formulate a coherent argument. Instead, I’m going to list off a few things that I know are connected, but cannot formulate a full argument on in any case.

  1. Naming a place (Penn?)Sylvania and the lack of forethought or foresight that Her attributes to this.
  2. “I am Hermione out of Shakespeare / I am not Hermione out of Shakespeare.” The way George attempts to tell Her she is Undine, or better yet the mermaid out of Anderson. Determination. External versus internal identity. Attempts to self-define. The mortifying ordeal of being defined by others.
  3. Pennsylvania = Sylvania = the Forest of Arden. Hermione and George as Rosalind and Orlando. (Surface-level associations this brings up – most important factor is two lovers in a forest; Rosalind is disguised as a man, but in the way of all Shakespearean comedies, ends the play in a traditional heterosexual marriage; Orlando writes very bad poetry because he is in love, George writes presumably-good poetry , may or may not be in love, can only conceptualize Hermione’s artistic experimentation within the boundaries of their experimentation.)
  4. Hermione-the-character is from A Winter’s Tale; the novel ends in winter. Is Her placed, at last, into the confines of “Hermione out of Shakespeare” by way of this season and what it represents? (Discussed more below.)
  5. Also, not to add Yet Another Thing That Is Only Connected To One Of These Factors, but … winter (and self-confinement) as blankness; both a blank slate and a blank page. A little bit of metafiction, as a treat? The word ‘palimpsest’ and all that this implies? (Her emphasizes blankness and newness at the end of the text, but we the readers know of all that has come before, especially as she is revisiting the place where she started.) Deliberate inconclusiveness or incompleteness? AHHH. If I’m mentioning metafiction, I also have to mention performance (both literal and figurative) and Her’s frequent assertions that she and George are “out of a bad novel”. Also, keen awareness of truth and untruth; is the winter at the end of the novel a triumph of untruth, or a truth of its own?

I meant to just throw all of these out and ask if anyone wanted to connect these between each other or expand these further, in an intended win for Making Conclusions About A Text Through The Power Of Dialogic Exchange. I realize this is an entire mess of ideas, though! Still, though, if anyone has further thoughts on HERmione and: references to Shakespeare, settings, the ability of names to determine identity, external vs internal determination of the self, metafiction, untruth, or any of the above, please jump in.

Disparate pieces of an argument.

2 thoughts on “Disparate pieces of an argument.

  • October 8, 2020 at 12:58 pm

    Oh my yes. Like you, I am stuck on trees (and so many other things, of course). Her refers to herself as a tree: “Tree on tree on tree. TREE. I am the Tree of Life. Tree. I am a tree planted by the rivers of water. I am… I am… HER exactly” (70). But then a couple pages later, Her says that “George could never love a tree properly” (73). I’ll be honest; I have no idea what Her means when she says she’s a tree. Perhaps when Her and George talk about the forest and the woods (they are in Pennsylvania after all, which means “Penn’s Wood’s,” as in the founder William Penn, “sylvania” coming from the Latin word meaning “forest”), this refers to the greater world of which they are a part. Her might view herself as just one tree, just one being, in the forest of the world. But, there are other Hers in this forest, too. (In some forests, trees can look very similar.) She is not the only being like herself to inhabit the forest. A forest is not made up of one tree, but many.

    • October 18, 2020 at 9:33 pm

      I love what you’re pointing out about a multiplicity of trees in the forest. I think there’s something about Her identifying herself as a tree while spending so much time in the forest that hints both at the desire for community (like you’re saying with regards to beings like herself), but also at the sprawling multiplicity of Her’s identity. I think part of the ‘self-incarceration’ Her performs later in the text is a manifestation of that very multiplicity being reduced to the being of one self. But then again Her’s conceptions of the things she ‘is’ (in this case, a tree) are in themselves attempts to reduce her identity to something comprehensible to her. Trees: there’s a lot to say about them, it seems.

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