A Time of Prosperous Change
In the early nineteen hundreds when women used to be treated as objects who were only good for cooking and cleaning. These women were expected to stay home and do nothing but take care of the children. Authors were rarely women .Now in the present day a women is thought of as having a mind of her own. She is thought of as a independent, an individual who has a peace of mind of her own who is allowed to work and make a living as she pleases. Even we don't think of Weldon every time someone mentions a popular contemporary author we know she deserves to be mentioned. Both in the Critical Survey of Long Fiction and in Love and Marriage in the Novels of Anita Brookner and Fay Weldon Weldon is mentioned with great honor and respect. Anna Ericson uses more past situations in Fay Weldon's own life while contrasting her to Anita Brookner while in contrast the Critical Survey of Long Fiction criticizes the works without much comparison to others. Both the Magill and Anna Ericson have strong points on a women's individualism but Anna Ericson proves Weldon's choice of personality for the main character was one reflecting Weldon's own thoughts and morals.
In the The Life and Loves of a She Devil Ruth is a character who is well developed who one can feel one with because of the fact that the author creates great depth to her as a character. In the Critical Survey of Long Fiction the author states that "In her fiction,
Fay Weldon explores women's lives with wit and humor. She is caustic in her implicit condemnation of injustice but avoids preaching by characters say and what they do"(Magill 3474). On the other hand Ericson has more of a formula to Weldon's novels unlike the Critical Survey of Long Fiction. "The Weldon narrator is usually omniscient; she is wise, sad and cynical"(Ericson 1). which shows that the characters must be well developed to have such a personified personality. Magill rarely states how Ruth's personality had come about in The Life and Loves of a She Devil.
Love was not an issue to Weldon when writing this novel this may be due to the lack of love in her very own life. Love was never thought of importance in the Critical Survey of Long Fiction. On the other hand in Love and Marriage in the Novels of Anita Brookner and Fay Weldon Ericson uses the subject of lack of love as the focus of his theories and that Weldon was a unwed mother who had to deal with the pressures of having a child instead of receiving love from his father. Even though Weldon wed eventually she later learned of what love was which gave her the experience to right about such a unloved character. Magill on the other hand focuses on their married relationship rather that the lack of love from Ruth and Bobo's relationship " The plot tells the story of a middle-class, suburban housewife, Ruth......."(Magill 3474).
Weldon always makes the heroine hidden or makes her in hiding so the reader has to figure out for themselves which is being done. Ericson states "The general Weldon heroine is not so easily described"(Ericson 2). In The Life and Loves of a She Devil
Weldon uses great technique to make her main character Ruth go in hiding she makes her hide not only her motives and desires but herself.
The author uses great technique in making the reader choose for themselves if the main character is the antagonist of protagonist. In The Life and Loves of a She Devil Weldon makes Ruth out to be a helpless women who firsts depends on her husband Bobbo for everything but in a underhanded manner she steals her husbands money and gets him to be charged with embezzlement "But all the time he was planning his great flight, the new life, with someone altogether different, and on his client's money, too."(Weldon 226).
The author goes to great distances to make Ruth's personality change in drastic manners. Ruth went from one extreme to another she was once dependent, and unsatisfied and later became dependent and satisfied by her husband's lack of composure. Ruth changed just as if times were changing from the early 1900's to the later 1900's. Weldon writes that:
"It seemed to Ruth that at last the times had come to return to the High Tower. She could walk with ease, even run a little. She could life a two-pound weight in either hand. Her circulatory problems were under control. She no longer needed the Hermione Clinic. She no longer needed anyone. She danced with Mr.Ghengis in the dew of the morning, as the sun rose red and round over the escarpment, and with every step it was as if she trod on knives; but she thanked him for giving her life and told him she was going."(239).
In both Criticisms the authors use reasoning to justify the use a almost happy ending to the novel. Ericson states "Strangely enough, I have yet to read a Fay Weldon novel without an almost unbelievably happy ending. Still , the happy ending is usually based on coincidence, fate or supernatural occurrences,. And practically never on the
actions of the characters" (Ericson 3474). But on the other hand in The Life and Loves of a She Devil the author makes the main character achieve whatever is achieved by herself.
Also in the Critical Survey of Long Fiction the author sums up the ending as so "Ruth is in command, while Bobbo has been humiliated and accepts his fate like owntrodden wife"(Ericson 3476).
Both criticisms are unique in a way of their own. But I feel as if Ericson does a better point of proving how Weldon's life plays a major role in the development in her characters. Even though the author of Critical Survey of Long Fiction doesn't establish this he still has done a very concise job of stating his views. The Life and Loves of a She Devil is a very good novel showing the dramatic change of time contrasting with the life of Ruth the main character in The Life and Loves of a She Devil .
Ericson, Anna. Love and Marriage in the Novels of Anita Brookner and Fay Weldon.
World Wide Web, The Internet. January 14 1997
Magill, N. Frank, ed. Critical Survey of Long Fiction. Pasedena: UP of California, 1991.
Vol. 8 of English Language Series 8 vols. 1969-1994
Weldon, Fay. The Life and Loves of a She Devil. London: Coronet, 1983.