Possession by A.S. Byatt0

After reading the book, I went and watched the movie. I was a little confused here and there before and the movie cleared up a lot although it wasn’t as specific as the book was. The movie sort of cut a lot of the letters into pieces in order to fit them into the script. And Val’s character was completely erased. But the book had the full letters from beginning to end. And i felt that Val’s role was pretty important. She was in a way… playing Ellen’s role. i think.

I must say, i was very depressed when i first thought the father never knew of the existence of his daughter and almost cried in the movie at the moment. However at the very end of the book/movie, i was bouncing with joy and all giggly when it turns out that the braid of hair was his daughter’s and not Christabel’s. I’m really glad Byatt added that special scene in his novel. Otherwise the story wouldn’t have been as complete for us, the readers.

As for questions, i still have lot.

1) Did christabel cut connections with Ash in guilt of Blanche’s death?

2) How can Ellen bare NOT to read the last letter Christabel send Ash? The curiosity would have killed me if it were me in her shoes. Perhaps she wanted to let bygones be bygones.

3) She stated in the book (another part that was missing from the movie) the reason why she couldn’t show Ash the letter. (Did she ever sent Christabel the letter she wrote though? Did Christabel ever find out that Ash never read her letter or was she forever just left in the blue thinking maybe he didnt reply because he hadn’t forgiven her?) Why did Ellen save the evidence of her husband’s betray in a box and kept it buried with him? Was that her way of showing acceptance? Her way of letting go and allowing her husband to take the love he had with christabel with him after death? Although I kind of wished she had shown the letter to him, but i can understand why she didn’t. If it was any other bitter wife, she would have burned up the evidence. By allowing the letter to be buried with her husband, it’s as if she’s granting her husband’s happiness. Since she knows after all, the letter was his and not hers to read.

4) Was Ellen unable to bare children or were she unable to be intimate with her husband at all? I was a little confused.


As for the book’s relation to archives… i guess it sets the examples of how archives can piece together a long lost story. Or perhaps a hidden story. It brings forth puzzles and mysteries and sets the archivists on a quest to uncover more. The way Maud and Roland was “possessed” by the Victorian letters of their favorite poets and would stop at nothing until they’ve found out what happened to the lovers.

I like how byatt lead Christabel’s decendants to Mead. It made the story even more interesting how the archivist was really digging up her own origins.

In the book, Christabel compared herself to Lady of Shalott. I thought that was very interesting too. In a way, she really was. The way she traps herself in her peaceful life with Blanche, not wanting to ruin Ash’s marriage and not replying back to his letters, was similar to the way the Lady of Shalott was trapped in her tower in fear of the “curse” if she were to leave. The “curse” in Christabel’s case was the consequences if she had accepted their love. But afterwards Christabel was no longer able to conceal her love for Ash and chose to be with him the same way the lady of shalott was unable to resist her temptation against sir Lancelot. Even though both The lady of shalott and christabel had a poor ending, it didn’t seem like any of them had regretted their actions. One died smiling, while the other gave birth to a beautiful daughter and eventually was able to let go of her anger when she wrote her final letter. I guess like Tennyson has said, “it was better to have loved and lost then never loved at all.” Cristabel never did burn her letters since they were precious memories and evidence of the love she had with Ash. Touching.

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