Shortly after the young John Ridd first meets Lorna Doone he realizes that the eight-year-old girl whom he has just kissed comes from a far higher social class:
Here was I, a yeoman's boy, a yeoman every inch of me . . . and there was she, a lady born, and thoroughly aware of it, and dressed by people of rank and taste, who took pride in her beauty and set it to advantage. For though her hair was fallen down by reason of her wildness, and some of her frock was touched with wet where she had tended me so, behold her dress was pretty enough for the queen of all the angels. The colours were bright and rich indeed, and the substance very sumptuous, yet simple and free from tinsel stuff, and matching most harmoniously. All from her waist to her neck was white, plaited in close like a curtain, and the dark soft weeping of her hair, and the shadowy light of her eyes (like a wood rayed through with sunset), made it seem yet whiter, as if it were done on purpose. As for the rest, she knew what it was a great deal better than I did, for I never could look far away from her eyes when they were opened upon me. [Chapter 8, "A Boy and a Girl," p. 60]
This encountar, and the first-person narrator's memory of it, has a lot in common with Pip's first encounter with Estella in Great Expectations, and indeed Dickens's novel may have served as the conscious or unconscious source of this scene. Both now-older narrators describe the childhood meetings with their beloveds as central to their lives, both emphasize the contrast between social and economic classes, and both emphasize the beauty of the young girls. Nonetheless, John reacts quite differently from Pip, playing a far more obvious role and kissing the young Lorna. What other ways does Blackmore's version of such an encounter differ from Dickens's?
- Pip and Estella: The Linking of Sexuality and Economics
- Moving Up the Social Ladder: The Bottom Rung vs. The Top Rung
Blackmore, R. D. Lorna Doone: A Romance of Exmoor. New York: Clarke, Given and Hooper, 1890. [e-text of this edition at Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library.
Last updated 25 April 2006