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The Headmaster's Wife
"Part of a grand literary tradition...Deeply felt and utterly absorbing." -...
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Do you think Elizabeth ever truly loved Arthur?

Created: 05/07/15

Replies: 23

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

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1318

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Do you think Elizabeth ever truly loved Arthur?

Do you think Elizabeth ever truly loved Arthur? Is she simply in love with the lifestyle he represents?


Posted May. 10, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
judyg

Join Date: 04/20/11

Posts: 14

RE: Do you think Elizabeth ever truly loved Arthur?

I have truly puzzled over this question because the author was intentionally silent on this subject I believe. What do others think? I'm not at all sure that she loved him beyond the thrill of the affair.


Posted May. 10, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
lindah

Join Date: 04/17/14

Posts: 90

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RE: Do you think Elizabeth ever truly loved Arthur?

No, I don't think she did given his deceitful behavior which resulted in Russell's expulsion. Their marriage might have evolved into mutual respect but it seemed more one of convenience with the near certain knowledge Arthur would become Headmaster and their life one of relative ease.


Posted May. 10, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
reene

Join Date: 02/18/15

Posts: 212

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RE: Do you think Elizabeth ever truly loved Arthur?

I do think Elizabeth loved Arthur in the only way she knew. She also loved all the things he stood for.
She knew he was going to follow in his father's footsteps and that would take her to the place she wanted to be. She loved the title, the house, the school, her position and I think she loved Arthur for giving her those things. However, life changed, so did Arthur and so did she.


Posted May. 10, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
sandeo

Join Date: 04/17/11

Posts: 19

RE: Do you think Elizabeth ever truly loved Arthur?

No I don't think she ever loved Arthur. She loved the idea of Arthur and what he represented. She was very needy and immature and wanted upward mobility. Arthur was a means to an end, but after her son's death the illusion was finally destroyed.


Posted May. 10, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jww

Join Date: 05/31/11

Posts: 128

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RE: Do you think Elizabeth ever truly loved Arthur?

I think Elizabeth was in love with the idea of Arthur's life and circumstances. She was selfish and without any depth or wisdom. She saw Arthur as a means to an end. And what an end.


Posted May. 11, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Retired Reader, NE

Join Date: 09/16/11

Posts: 165

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RE: Do you think Elizabeth ever truly loved Arthur?

I think Elizabeth loved the "idea" of loving Arthur. She liked the status that came with being married to Arthur. The author left it to the reader to determine the extent of their love. I did like that aspect of the book.


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

Join Date: 05/11/15

Posts: 31

RE: Do you think Elizabeth ever truly loved Arthur?

I agree wholeheartedly with Renee.


Posted May. 11, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
dannod0409

Join Date: 04/28/15

Posts: 4

RE: Do you think Elizabeth ever truly loved Arthur?

She was surely in need of psychological help - a very needy person trapped in a totally unrealistic relationship.


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

Join Date: 07/15/14

Posts: 20

RE: Do you think Elizabeth ever truly loved Arthur?

I do think Elizabeth came to love Arthur. Just the experience of having a child together would create loving intimacy. I was dismayed she didn't try and "right the wrong" against Russell. I think she looked at the big picture and decided to love Arthur for the lifestyle he could give her. Neither Arthur nor Elizabeth was psychologically healthy - which is why I think they ended up together....and why their marriage would ultimately fail.


jan t
Posted May. 11, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
barbarab

Join Date: 04/15/11

Posts: 39

RE: Do you think Elizabeth ever truly loved Arthur?

I think there had been a time when Ethan was a young boy, that Elizabeth had loved Arthur. The day in park, that Arthur recalls in the very beginning of the book, she leaned into him & smiled. We saw her truly happy.
She married him for the wrong reasons & came to a full understanding of that looking into her closet.


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

Join Date: 05/11/15

Posts: 26

RE: Do you think Elizabeth ever truly loved Arthur?

I agree with those who have said she loved the idea of loving Arthur, and all that he stood for. But then she found the reality different from her dream. Ethan made marriage tolerable, perhaps even good, but his death upended all of that.


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

Join Date: 02/25/14

Posts: 40

RE: Do you think Elizabeth ever truly loved Arthur?

I feel that in certain respects she grew to love him and the life she envisioned they would build together, but that illusion did not take long to crumble. It would ultimately be difficult to have true love that is tied to deceitful behavior such as Arthur's.


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

Join Date: 08/29/11

Posts: 36

RE: Do you think Elizabeth ever truly loved Arthur?

She tried to love him, but just couldn't do it wholeheartedly.

As others have mentioned, she coveted the life he could make possible for her.

It wasn't enough.


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: Do you think Elizabeth ever truly loved Arthur?

I think Elizabeth loved Arthur in her own way. She was secure in her emotions and her life as long as events were going well. She goes through phases of "changing her skin" according to the changes in her life. She, like Arthur, becomes a broken person unable to cope with grief and unrealized expectations. I think she goes through love in degrees.


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: Do you think Elizabeth ever truly loved Arthur?

I think Elizabeth loved Arthur in a way that she thought was love. She felt that the life as part of Lancaster with Arthur as headmaster and she as the first lady was what she loved. She felt fulfilled once she had Ethan. She was confused about what would truly make her happy. To me she did not know what true love was. Would she have truly loved Russell if that affair had continued? She is still a very typical woman in her views of what love is.


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

Join Date: 05/13/15

Posts: 2

RE: Do you think Elizabeth ever truly loved Arthur?

I believe she did initially, but lost respect as life and time progressed.


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

Join Date: 05/07/13

Posts: 70

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RE: Do you think Elizabeth ever truly loved Arthur?

I agree with those who feel she loved the status that came with being Arthur's wife. She did love Ethan, but when he died the lack of mutual feeling that was the foundation of their marriage could not sustain either of them.
Jan-Philipp Sendkov wrote in Whispering Shadows that there are two kinds of couples: their child's death either welds them together or they are afraid to look into their spouse's eyes because they would see in them that which they did not want to see: a reflection of their own fears, their rage, and their unmeasurable grief. I feel that could also describe Elizabeth and Arthur.


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

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 75

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RE: Do you think Elizabeth ever truly loved Arthur?

I believe she fell in love with him and what he brought to the marriage; but as a lot of us did, we fell in love while young, the choice was not good for long term and/or each of us changed or one did and one didn't and eventually it doesn't work.


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

Join Date: 05/14/15

Posts: 34

RE: Do you think Elizabeth ever truly loved Arthur?

It's funny, I didn't think about this til reading the question, but...I guess I don't. She liked what he represented, but never truly him. She seemed to have loved Russell, but he faded away, so she stuck with Arthur. Was he her escape from what she knew, an escape to something safer? Security vs. hippies? She never seemed to love him, especially as he became more and more the man she knew he'd become.


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: Do you think Elizabeth ever truly loved Arthur?

Interesting question and how does one answer it for another person. She certainly made others and even herself believe at least at the beginning of the marriage that she loved Arthur. However, as other readers have mentioned, she yearned for the position of "The Headmaster's Wife," and enjoyed that role to which she had aspired for a long time. When Arthur became what we now recognize as mentally ill, and their son died, she did little to support and to comfort him. They each grieved in their own private ways rather than coming together as a couple to lessen the grief of each. She liked "playing the game," but expected it to always be as she had dreamed of it being and Arthur was the means of finding that dream.


Posted May. 15, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
ElenaSpagnolie

Join Date: 10/10/11

Posts: 19

RE: Do you think Elizabeth ever truly loved Arthur?

I had the same question, alissac! I wondered why being the Headmaster's wife was so important to Elizabeth. Was she rebelling against her hippie parents? She didn't seem particularly unhappy in her childhood. Her pursuit of the Lancaster life affected her future so profoundly. Why was she chasing that dream?


Posted May. 18, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
barbarac

Join Date: 04/14/11

Posts: 8

RE: Do you think Elizabeth ever truly loved Arthur?

Did Arthur ever love Elizabeth? They didn't grow as individuals or as a couple. They had their thoughts and dreams, but didn't put in the hard work they needed to do. She was only "the headmaster's wife"


Posted May. 21, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Lea Ann

Join Date: 04/20/11

Posts: 99

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RE: Do you think Elizabeth ever truly loved Arthur?

I would doubt it very much. She saw Arthur as a way to bring her dreams of being "The Headmaster's Wife" to fruition. She had her life, and Arthur's, all planned out and was successful in creating that life. Howver, she left out what I would consider the most important part; that part in the marriage vows about loving and supporting one another ----- for better or for worse. I don't believe she worked at that early in the marriage and certainly not after Ethan's death. The book was a blueprint, if you will, for tragedy with two young people marrying for the wrong reasons and compounding that mistake in the years of marriage to come.


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