Thursday, March 24, 2011

Stoddard, "Lemorne vs. Huell"

--This is an image of the coastline in Newport, RI, where much of this story is set. Newport was a resort of the ultra-rich in the period of the story.

--The story is titled after a lawsuit that involves several of the main characters, but it is ostensibly a love story that ends in marriage. How is the love story not just entangled in, but actually parallel or metaphoric of the lawsuit (i.e., how is romance like a lawsuit?)?

--How is love and/or desire represented here? Compare its vision of romance to that depicted in The Coquette? What does it tell us about differences between Enlightenment and Romantic notions of love?

--The story ends strangely, from out of a dream. How does it comment on the love story and/or relations between the sexes?


  1. I thought that the ending to this text was very fitting. Throughout the story the main character has little to no control or involvement in what is going on in her life. Her mother and her aunt essentially rule over her, and she follows their lead in almost everything. Even in her romance she defers to what those around her want. She recognizes that Mr. Uxbridge is taking her love rather than asking for it she feels as though she has no choice but to be carried along by his desires.
    In the conclusion to the story we see her waking up from a dream in which she realizes that her husband essentially was bought for her by her aunt. She calls him a scoundrel, but seems more resigned then offended or hurt. I think this is a commentary on the role that women traditionally had in society as followers. This character exemplifies a woman who has given up ownership of her life and has allowed others to guide and influence that life instead.

  2. Mike Flachs

    In order to consider such a parallel (between marriage and a lawsuit) you must examine the aspects of marriage that were conventional during the time period in which this story is set. It seems to me that at the time, marriage was much more of a complicated endeavor than it is today. Take for example today’s average couple, more times that not they both have independent sources of income and the need to negotiate things such as dowries is often times not even part of the process. These added financial arrangements would make marriage seem more like a lawsuit.

    Anyways, that may have been a bit off topic. In regards to the actual events of the text, Margaret’s marriage is comparable to a lawsuit in many ways. For one, both parties are engaging in a legal process much like a lawsuit. Both people also seek to gain favor for themselves thru the implementation of the aforementioned legal processes. The two are also undoubtedly linked in that Uxbridge manipulated the lawsuit in order that Eliza would win, thus, giving him a share of Margaret’s money for capital for his law firm. Margaret also receives her share yet she also receives the realization that she is in a marriage of convenience, not love.

  3. I liked Stoddard's writing style and delivery of message better than Grimke or Stanton. I found her to be like Fern in the way she addressed the issues of gender equality; that is, she hides her opinion in plan view. Like Fern, she uses literary devices to show her ideas, instead of spelling them out in an essay. Given this, her opinions on the issue of gender equality aren't hard to decipher. I would argue that her views on gender are more radical than Grimke, Stanton, or Fern, or at least she was willing to express her radicalness more than they were.
    In "Lemorne Versus Hall", women are struggling with self-realization and the roles that have been assigned them. She doesn't make them inherently better than men, and she doesn't playfully suggest ways in which they can dominate their husbands. These female characters are treated with empathy and they have depth, interest, and are dynamic. Just by showing these characters as male characters are usually shown is radical and alludes to her opinion on sexual equality.
    Margaret asks Mr. Uxbridge his opinion on the fugitive slave bill; he responds "I approve of returning property to its owner." This line, and others, are meant to draw a parallel between the rights of slaves and the rights of women, to perhaps gain abolitionists sympathy for women's issues as well. Margaret says of her marriage, "I was not allowed to give myself- I was taken;" she sees herself as a slave because of her lack of agency in her own life. This is very radical, and i personally like this approach better than the other women writers.

  4. Romance is like a lawsuit? Maybe. There’s give, there’s take, there’s a secret meeting on the beach where the real work gets done. But I think the point to this story is that the only real winners in lawsuits are the lawyers. They’re the ones wining and dining everyone on somebody else’s tab. If they lose, they get paid. If they win, they get paid. It’s a win win. But old Ed Uxbridge, he even gets paid after the lawsuit is over—win win win. When Stoddard ends the story with “My husband is a scoundrel.” It’s official: lawyers had the same reputation in the 1800s as they do today.

  5. The lawsuit metaphor works really well in this story, and I came away from the story with the same impression as Ben did. From the very begging of the story I was extremely skeptical about the romantic nature of Uxbridge, and my suspicions were confirmed. He is a middle aged, unmarried man who essentially settles to be married on the basis that he will get paid to do so. The relationship between Margaret and Ed is no different than a legal settlement in which the two opposing parties have made a bargain. Aunt Eliza gets her winning lawsuit, and Ed gets his yearly installments of work-free cash. This resolution appears to emphasize what is essentially wrong about arranged marriage and marriage without love. Margaret is left with her unvoiced opinions, just as alone as she was before getting married.

  6. To be totally honest, Uxbridge had me fooled and it wasn't until the end of the story that I actually caught onto what was going on. I thought he was so nice to her and I'd get all giddy when I'd read the nice things he'd say to her, but after finishing the story I realized what everyone's motives were.
    I think this definitely is a big change from reading The Coquette since in that novel, Eliza is a very strong female character and opinionated with her view of society, freedom, and most importantly marriage. This story by Stoddard depicts a different type of woman who sways at the mention of a compliment and doesn't really have any sense, it seems. Our main character allows her aunt to control her lifestyle/future, then when her aunt hands it over to Uxbridge, the girl lets him control it and then after she's already married him realizes what happened.

  7. I really like that Margaret is so unapologetically unpleasant. She is sullen and insulting in every interaction with her aunt, clearly demonstrating the fact that she has no interest in or fondness for her relation. She takes no joy in her activities and only grudgingly allows her aunt to dress her fashionably. Instead, Margaret uses her appearance as an act of defiance---she fights against allowing others to dictate how she presents herself. She's grouchy and strange and it's surprising that her aunt would ask for the company of someone so disagreeable when she could easily hire someone who would work to please her.

    On the other hand, she is clearly a very complex woman. She reminded me a lot of the character of Erika Kohurt from (the film) The Piano Teacher---both make their livings through art, which I associate with expressiveness and indulgence, yet they are so rigid and coldly passionate that they at first seem to have no real interest in any aspect of life. Both are smothered by the restraints of familial and societal obligations, causing them to feel distanced from those around them. Finally, both fall in love with men who only want to “have” them. They are not allowed the space for true expression, and so become repressed and peculiar. Of course, there are many differences as well, even excluding strange sexual fixations, but there is something about Margaret and Erika that seems so kindred to me.

  8. I'm not sure I buy into the theory that marriage is like a lawsuit. Sure, it's formal and you have two parties, but that is where the similarities end. In a marriage, the parties look out for each other. In a lawsuit, they are competing against each other. In this particular instance, the marriage is more a marriage of convenience to settle the lawsuit and make money regardless if winning or losing the lawsuit, but I think in most cases this analogy isn't true.

    The manner in which the story ends makes me feel as if she is coming to the realization that their whole romance is just a fabrication, as a dream is. Their feelings for each other aren't true, real, or lasting.

  9. I could be wrong here, but what I got from reading this was that the notion of "love" can be skewed and manipulated and is not always pure and true. Perhaps that could fit in with the whole similarity of a lawsuit. The goal in theory of law is supposed to be pure ("justice") but in reality there is more often than not bargaining, compromising, and sometimes shady dealings. Overall, Lemorne vs Huell seems to present a very cynical view of love. Stoddard seems to be warning her audience (focusing on women) to be wary of the intention of men in romance and that distractions such as money often get in the way of true love.

    - Josh Milberg

  10. The lawsuit Lemorne vs. Huell is over a plot of land that just recently became valuable, forcing Eliza Huell to negotiate with the Lemorne's lawyer, Mr. Uxbridge, in order to find an amiable solution. The love story also pits Eliza Huell against Mr. Uxbridge, as the two try to negotiate terms so Uxbridge can marry Huell's niece. When the two talk about Uxbridge and Margaret getting married, they talk like Margaret is a piece of property. When Eliza wins her court case against Lemorne, Margaret becomes a direct parallel to the plot of land they were arguing over, as this decision has made her rich.

  11. --The story ends strangely, from out of a dream. How does it comment on the love story and/or relations between the sexes?

    I think what is most odd, or most interesting, about the ending of the story is that it is, in fact, the end. In the writing of the story, there are very few times where it seems as though anybody in the story has an elevated pulse, but in the ending, Margaret wakes "with a start." For this story, this is exciting.

    And yet Stoddard chose to end the story there. To me, this only furthers the claim that this text is meant to be about the struggles of women within society. Throughout the story, Margaret was naive of what was going on, and so, to an extent, one could think that she got what she deserved, as she did not stop to think about what was going on. However, with the ending, she has her realization and sees the situation for what it is, and yet the story is over. It does not matter that she now see's what a "scoundrel" her husband is, they're already married; she's stuck.

  12. The love story in Lemorne vs Huell is very much complicated by the lawsuit over the plot of valuable land. Like the lawsuit, Uxbridge and Margaret's love is surrounded by self-interest and politics. Like the lawsuit, Maragret's marriage is based on negotiations. I don't believe there is any true love found in this story. All these character's care about it "what's in it for me?" This is a theme that is common through out the story. Margaret become somewhat of a pawn because of this. Margaret's mother is interested in Aunt Eliza's inheritance and therefore ushers Margaret to go help Aunt Eliza. Eliza is interested in obtaining the valuable land and uses Margaret's marital status as a bargaining chip to get what she wants. It's all disgustingly selfish.

    I think that the love in this story compares to a lawsuit in the sense that it is all about compromise and clearly there was a lot of bargaining and compromises made in this story to help the character get what they want.