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The Headmaster's Wife
"Part of a grand literary tradition...Deeply felt and utterly absorbing." -...
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How did your opinion of the headmaster and his wife change throughout the course of the novel?

Created: 05/07/15

Replies: 10

Posted May. 07, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1318

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How did your opinion of the headmaster and his wife change throughout the course of the novel?

How did your opinion of the headmaster and his wife change throughout the course of the novel? Do you understand them more having encountered both points of view?


Posted May. 11, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rosemaryk

Join Date: 08/29/11

Posts: 36

RE: How did your opinion of the headmaster and his wife change throughout the course of the novel?

I was anti-Arthur from the start, and never felt any better about him.

On the other hand, I liked Elizabeth throughout the book.

So it seems my opinion of the two did not vary as I read.


Posted May. 11, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
reene

Join Date: 02/18/15

Posts: 212

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RE: How did your opinion of the headmaster and his wife change throughout the course of the novel?

This is difficult because my opinion of Arthur and Elizabeth changed throughout the book. First I was totally disgusted with Arthur for his behavior with a student, but then realized the man was mentally ill and felt sorry for him. With Elizabeth, I felt at first she was shallow, that she loved Arthur, but for all the wrong reasons. Then as her character grew, I realized she had gone through several difficult life choices, living with an alcoholic, watching someone she cared about destroy himself, her own inhibitions and the death of her only child. By the end of the book, I felt deep sorrow for their losses.


Posted May. 11, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
lindah

Join Date: 04/17/14

Posts: 90

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RE: How did your opinion of the headmaster and his wife change throughout the course of the novel?

Despite Arthur's breakdown or manifestation of mental illness, I really couldn't and didn't like the man throughout the book. I did feel sorry for him by the end when it became clear he suffered from delusions and had made such a mess of his life. I was somewhat ambivalent about Elizabeth who seemed to lack the strength to leave Arthur and who seemed to settle for comfort rather than conviction and suffered the consequences. I did like her better in the end. She had endured unimaginable grief over the loss of her only child and stuck by Arthur.


Posted May. 12, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
MarieA

Join Date: 10/12/11

Posts: 149

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RE: How did your opinion of the headmaster and his wife change throughout the course of the novel?

By the end of the novel, I came to better understand Arthur and Elizabeth. Both are tragic because of their character flaws. Arthur turns to alcohol because life and its expectations become too much for him to bear. Elizabeth experiences changes in her life that overwhelm her. Because their relationship has eroded, both are alone to cope with the tragedies they should be able to face and overcome together.


Posted May. 12, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Retired Reader, NE

Join Date: 09/16/11

Posts: 165

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RE: How did your opinion of the headmaster and his wife change throughout the course of the novel?

For me, Russell is the character who stayed true to himself. He refused to lie about the alcohol found in his room. That took courage. He showed generous forgiveness by helping Arthur at the end. He was so tender to Elizabeth in the final scene. He's the hero of the book. Elizabeth annoyed me the most. She just settled for comfort and didn't get herself out of a bad alcoholic situation. She redeemed herself for me a bit in the end. Arthur was pitiful throughout the book but at his worst when he planted the liquor in Russell's room. He is a weak character.


Posted May. 13, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
lynneb

Join Date: 08/23/11

Posts: 70

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RE: How did your opinion of the headmaster and his wife change throughout the course of the novel?

Both Arthur and Elizabeth are seen differently in each part of the novel. The events in each separate part allow for different opinions of their character. We grow to dislike Arthur in the first half of the book and then when we see him in the second half his character is much more likable. Elizabeth seemed to be a non-person in the first half of the book. I was shocked that she didn't seem to have any interest in what Arthur was doing and no emotions at all. Russell was a very honest and clear headed guy who seemed to remain the same throughout. I was rather surprised that he and Betsy were seeming to hit it off at the end. I guess the familiarity and their circumstances were what brought them together. Kind of what goes around, comes around theme. It seems that Arthur's plot to split them up back in boarding school is what brought them together in the end.


Posted May. 14, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
alissac

Join Date: 05/14/15

Posts: 34

RE: How did your opinion of the headmaster and his wife change throughout the course of the novel?

My opinion changed greatly throughout this book- at first, it didn't seem terribly interesting, but at the end of Arthur's narration and Betsy's murder, I found myself hooked- I HAD to keep reading bc honestly, what the heck just happened?


Posted May. 14, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Lea Ann

Join Date: 04/20/11

Posts: 99

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RE: How did your opinion of the headmaster and his wife change throughout the course of the novel?

As I learned more about each of these characters, my opinions about them did change. For the Headmaster, I watched in disbelief as he fell further and further into the pit of his obsession with this student who has been entrusted to his care. He forgets all sense of honor and decency, his responsibility to his wife and to the students of the school. It was like watching the proverbial wreck unfolding in front of one. Now the wife was not 100% innocent in this. One wonders if her behavior toward her husband had been more gentle and loving, would he have turned to a student to meet his emotional and sexual needs. These were "protected" people who left behind that aura of protection and exposed themselves and others to horrendous damage.


Posted May. 17, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
ElenaSpagnolie

Join Date: 10/10/11

Posts: 19

RE: How did your opinion of the headmaster and his wife change throughout the course of the novel?

I'm curious Lea Ann, did your opinion change again when you discovered that the student-teacher affair was Arthur's delusion?


Posted May. 20, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jww

Join Date: 05/31/11

Posts: 128

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RE: How did your opinion of the headmaster and his wife change throughout the course of the novel?

I abhorred Arthur through most of the book. His 'affair' with Betsy was abominable and disgusting. Everything about him made me angry. And then...reality! It was like a switch in my brain when I found out Betsy/Elizabeth was alive and Arthur was insane. I went from hating him to pitying him. As far as Elizabeth is concerned, she still left me cold. Found her to be selfish and self-centered. Everything she did was for her social climbing ambition. She will survive because her first concern is herself. Arthur will never be 'OK'. Interesting book and clever presentation.


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