2013年6月16日 星期日

The French Lieutenant's Woman

 讀到一段幾年前精讀過的小說 The French Lieutenant's Woman   真令人高興. 所以找一篇評論分享之.

法國中尉的女人The French Lieutenant's Woman (第12章)

I will not make her teeter on the windowsill; or sway forward, and then collapse sobbing back onto the worn carpet of her room. We know she was alive a fortnight after this incident, and therefore she did not jump. Nor were hers the sobbing, hysterical sort of tears that presage violent action; but those produced by a profound conditional, rather than emotional, misery--slow-welling, unstoppable, creeping like blood through a bandage.

Who is Sarah? 

Genetic and Cultural Selection in The French Lieutenant's Woman

       There seems to be as much confusion today over what Charles Darwin meant in The Origin of Species as existed in the society that received it over a century ago. According to anthropologist David Rindos, part of the confusion stems from the introduction of a concept known as social Darwinism by Herbert Spencer in the late nineteenth century, which asserts that the intelligent people of a society will become powerful and wealthy through what Spencer, and not Darwin, called "the survival of the fittest" (66). Darwin refused to advance or support Spencer's theory, but because his name was associated with it, people mistake his notion of adaptation for a vertical process from a lower state to a higher one. In his documentary Darwin's Revolution in Thought, Stephen Jay Gould explains that when the elephant migrated to Russia, the hairiest were the most able to survive its harsh winters. But the wooly mammoth, he says, was not better in any cosmic sense than the elephant. Darwin clearly rejects Spencer's hierarchical concept when he writes in his notebooks: "It is absurd to talk of one animal being higher than another.– We consider those, where the {cerebral structure/intellectual faculties} most developed as highest.– A bee doubtless would when the instincts were–" (Barrett et al. 189).
       This confusion over Darwin's theory has led to some confusion over John Fowles's The French Lieutenant's Woman, in which Darwinism is a prevalent theme. The fact that Fowles does not share the popular misunderstanding is demonstrated when the narrator says: "In a vivid insight, a flash of black lightning, [Charles] saw that all of life was parallel: that evolution was not vertical, ascending to perfection, but horizontal" (165). Prior to this reference, the narrator describes the "Horizontality of Existence" (80) as one of the novel's possible themes. Given the underlying theme of horizontal evolution, Fowles indicates that we cannot apply the same literary concepts of character growth and development to the characters in The French Lieutenant's Woman as we might to other literary characters. Charles may change, but he cannot "improve" except in a way relative to his local environment, namely the end of the Victorian Period in England. Yet, some scholars view Sarah as a mentor or teacher (Hutcheon 123) whose function is to guide Charles to an improved state of his own (Huffaker 109). Similarly, although critics speak frequently of the multiple endings as indications of the evolution of the modern novel (an observation with which I wholeheartedly agree), most suggest that the last ending is the best of the three and that, in a like vein, the Victorian conventions are inferior to the modern ones. However, Fowles indicts Charles for this same superiority complex and the fact that he "had not really understood Darwin" (45).
       I wish to contribute four new ideas to the current scholarship surrounding Fowles's The French Lieutenant's Woman. First, I wish to show how all of the major characters, not just Sarah or Charles, are portrayed as agents of evolutionary change. Tony E. Jackson discusses Sarah as a "hopeful monster" defined by Gould in Panda's Thumb. I wish to show that the same is true of other characters. Specifically, we see Mrs. Poulteney, Sam Farrow, Mr. Freeman, and Ernestina–in addition to Sarah and Charles–transitioning from a past culture to a future one and possessing, simultaneously, traits from both periods. Second, I will illustrate that, contrary to popular opinion (Huffaker 113, among others), the last ending does not suggest that Charles has learned an important lesson, but that it actually provides Charles with the worst chance for genetic and cultural success. Ironically, the third ending also provides us with the modern protagonist and an indication that the form of the novel itself is an agent of evolutionary change. Third, I will demonstrate how the choice of endings emerges as the novelist-narrator's own cultural adaptation from the role of an omniscient creator to that of a self-conscious one who admits, in the vein of contemporary postmodern narrators, the artificiality of his enterprise. Finally, I will show how the evolution of character, form, and narrator do not illustrate a "freedom" from anything, but rather, more emphatically prove the lack of freedom even in a culture that thinks itself liberated from an omnipotent god.
       Before I demonstrate the ways in which the characters function as agents of evolution, I should briefly explain the connection between Darwin's genetic evolutionary theory and Fowles's more specific concern, the evolution of culture. Like genetic selection, cultural selection is a horizontal adaptation to changes in local environments, and it should not be confused with social Darwinism. As Rindos maintains, "[c]ultural selection is not distinct from natural selection in the manner in which it works" (65). He asserts further, however, that cultural evolution is faster:
Whereas genetic recombination and transmission occur only once in a generation, cultural recombination and transmission are not limited in this manner. The [cultural] system will have a higher mutation rate, a larger number of recombination episodes, and, hence, more potential selection episodes per unit of time. Also, given the fact that cultural information, unlike genetic information, flows unimpaired among all members of the culture and even between cultures, we should also expect that the rate of cultural evolution will be greater than that of genetic evolution. Indeed, part of the additive fitness of the genetic capacity for cultural behaviors is the capacity it gives individuals to change behavior traits rapidly. (72)
       Additionally, as anthropologist Jared Diamond explains, genetic selection involves more than the acquiring of new traits: "The long list of ancestral traits that were lost or reduced in the course of human [genetic] evolution includes tails, body hair, wisdom teeth, the ability to synthesize vitamin C, the size of our teeth and appendix, the thickness of our skulls, and the bony browridges over our eyes" (64). It follows, then, that cultural evolution would involve the same process of both acquiring and losing behavioral traits.
       With our twentieth-century hindsight, we are capable of perceiving most of Fowles's characters transitioning from an earlier cultural behavior to a later one. We find Mrs. Poulteney, for example, between the prudent Puritanism of the early part of the Victorian Period and the extravagant pomposity of the latter part: "With the vicar Mrs. Poulteney felt herself with two people. One was her social inferior, an inferior who depended on her for many of the pleasures of his table . . . ; and the other was the representative of God, before whom she had metaphorically to kneel. So her manner with him took often a bizarre and inconsequential course. It was de haut en bas one moment, de bas en haut the next; and sometimes she contrived both positions all in one sentence" (24). The prudent Puritanism in her fears God and forces her to "cautiously examine[ ] her conscience" (24); but the extravagant pomposity in her manifests itself in her hoarding of wealth (24) and in the sharp, unmerciful edge of the tone with which she, like many upper class ladies of her day, speaks to her servants. As the narrator explains: "what drove the new Britain was increasingly a desire to seem respectable, in place of a desire to do good for good's sake" (17). Mrs. Poulteney, like the other characters I will discuss, exemplifies one of the epigraphs to the third chapter from The Origin of Species which states that "the chief part of the organization of every living creature is due to its inheritance" (15). Consequently, Mrs. Poulteney's character, a mixture of both past and future cultural traits, has a certain duplicity.
       Evolutionary change is not exclusively for the rich in Fowles's novel, for Sam Farrow, Charles's servant, also represents a move from one kind of species to another: the move from a member of the lower class to one of the middle class. Although later in the novel his transition is more obvious when he takes a job with Mr. Freeman's company and moves his new family into a house of his own, the change is noted much earlier by the narrator as something not specific to Sam's individual case:
The mid-century has seen quite a new form of dandy appear on the English scene; the old upper-class variety, the etiolated descendants of Beau Brummel, were known as "swells"; but the new young prosperous artisans and would-be superior domestics like Sam had gone into competition sartorially. They were called "snobs" by the swells themselves; Sam was a very fair example of a snob, in this localized sense of the word. He had a very sharp sense of clothes style–quite as sharp as a "mod" of the 1960s; and he spent most of his wages on keeping in fashion. And he showed another mark of this new class in his struggle to command the language. (39)
       The narrator goes on to explain that Sam Farrow is different from the Sam Weller as he is portrayed decades earlier in Charles Dickens's Pickwick Papers in that the latter "was happy with his role" (40) while the former "suffered it" (40). There remains something of the Cockney in Sam Farrow–his wrong a's and h's–but he and his class, according to Fowles, are in flux as they adapt to the changing economy of their time. The narrator tells us that Charles "began to wonder if there wasn't something of a Uriah Heep beginning to erupt on the surface of Sam's personality; a certain duplicity" (259, my emphasis).
       Mr. Freeman and his daughter, Ernestina, represent more advanced (but not superior) examples of this economically adapting species to which Sam belongs, for, though Freeman is very wealthy, his father had been a draper, and one can see that Sam's progeny have a similar chance to aspire to Ernestina's class. The narrator explains the predicament of the "new recruits" to the upper middle class: "Some chose another version of cryptic coloration and went in very comprehensively (like Mr. Jorrocks) for the pursuits, property and manners of the true country gentleman. Others–like Mr. Freeman–tried to redefine the term. Mr. Freeman had a newly built mansion in the Surrey pinewoods, but his wife and daughter lived there a good deal more frequently than he did" (222). The narrator goes on to tell us that Freeman is "a forerunner of the modern rich commuter" (222) and that he currently behaved partly like a businessman and partly like a gentleman, but firstly like the former (223-24). The duplicity of his character infiltrates his place of business, for as he was both "an imitation of an earlier generation of Puritan profiteers" (223) and just like "some tycoons of our own time . . . covering excellent investment with a nice patina of philanthropy" (223), his establishment, though "atrocious[] . . . by our standards" (223), is "exceptionally advanced . . . , a model of its kind" (223).
       Ernestina's change, although economically based like her father's, is more similar to Sam's in its connection to fashion. As part of the "revolt against the crinoline and the large bonnet" (10), she dresses a little too sharply for the small town of Lyme, and, although she has "exactly the right face for her age" (26), there is "a minute tilt at the corner of her eyelids, and a corresponding tilt at the corner of her lips" (27) that the "orthodox Victorian would have perhaps mistrusted" (27). The narrator explains that she "was so very nearly one of the prim little moppets, the Georginas, Victorias, Albertinas, Matildas and the rest who sat in their closely guarded dozens at every ball; yet not quite" (27). Likewise, it is Ernestina who effects the change in Aunt Tranter's house which is "inexorably, massively, irrefutably in the style of a quarter-century before" (27). Like Ernestina, who is part Victorian and part modern–like the novel itself–Mrs. Tranter's house is in transition, as it has an "emphatically French" room of the modern taste amid the old furniture and decor of two and a half decades before. But if Ernestina represents the evolving economy and fashion, she remains an archaic species when it comes to female sexuality and the New Woman. For "whenever the physical female implications of her body, sexual, menstrual, parturitional, tr[y] to force an entry into her consciousness" (29), she simply tells herself "I must not" (29).
       Sarah, on the other hand, represents the more emancipated woman who refuses to submit to male authority. It seems significant that we witness submission in Sarah only when she serves a female employer, and her submission to Mrs. Poulteney has limits, particularly when she breaks her rule about wandering near Ware Commons. She seems bent on destroying the male fantasy of provider and protector when she undermines Charles's engagement to Ernestina and when she expresses her desire to "be what I am, not what a husband, however kind, however indulgent, must expect me to be in marriage" (353). The narrator describes Sarah as a kind of unrecognizable hybrid pointing to the future century: "[Sarah] turned and looked at [Charles] then. . . . We can sometimes recognize the looks of a century ago on a modern face; but never those of a century to come" (146).
       Yet, Sarah remains far from the liberated woman of the twentieth century. Despite the emphatic implication in the novel that Sarah is a lesbian, the narrator remarks: "As regards lesbianism, [Sarah] was as ignorant as her mistress" (129).
       One of Sarah's most peaceful moments occurs when she sleeps with another young woman in her arms: ". . . notice how peaceful, how untragic, the features are: a healthy young woman of twenty-six or -seven, with a slender, rounded arm thrown out . . . thrown out, as I say, and resting over another body" (128). We are told that the body is not that of a man, but of a "girl of nineteen or so, also asleep, her back to Sarah, yet very close to her, since the bed, though large, is not meant for two people" (128). Though the younger girl, Mary, is probably not a lesbian because of her later love affair and eventual marriage to Sam, the fact that it is Sarah's arm that makes the embrace suggests that Sarah is. The narrator's subsequent dwelling on the word lesbian and what it did and did not mean to the people of the nineteenth century is even more telling. The narrative suggests that if Sarah had understood anything about lesbianism, she might not have been such an enigma to herself and to Charles.
       Charles, of course, is not coincidentally named for Charles Darwin. Already representative of a change in process, he is the rising scientific element at a time when Darwinism is not popular; but he is an "ungifted scientist" (45), and his comic attire–canvas clothes and heavy boots–which he wears to play the part of the good paleontologist, makes him a caricature not too unlike his grandfather who "had devoted a deal of his money and much more of his family's patience to the excavation of the harmless hummocks of earth that pimpled his three thousand Wiltshire acres" (16).
       Despite his transitional behaviors, Charles fails to experience the growth and emancipation in the final ending that so many critics attribute him with experiencing. Carol Barnum suggests that "[Charles] has evolved . . . to a higher life form, one that will enable him a greater chance of true survival in the psychic sense" (74). Likewise, Huffaker maintains, with the popular Spencerian version of evolution, that "Darwin's ideas of natural selection and survival of the fittest are at the core of Fowles's philosophy, and since man is a rational animal, the quality of fitness for him is intelligence–with its corollary quality of kindness since it is difficult for a truly intelligent man to be unkind. Charles, fortunately, has both qualities and so is able to undergo the evolution necessary for survival" (109).
       I cannot agree that Charles is motivated by kindness. If he were, he would not have left Ernestina at the altar, so to speak, humiliating her and her family. He goes to Sarah, not because he feels she needs him more than Ernestina does, but because he needs her, and because he is inescapably, as Fowles's novel suggests again and again, "as Marx defined it," a creature driven by the pursuit of his own ends (365). As for Charles's intelligence, the image of him scouring the Cobb for sand dollars in heavy boots and clothes during the heat of the day speaks for itself. He imagines it takes Sarah hours to find the specimens she offers him, but we know that she is not at liberty to take as much time during her afternoon excursions as he is and that she is most likely just better at finding them.
       Regarding Huffaker's claim that Charles "is able to undergo the evolution necessary for survival" and Barnum's similar one, it is my contention that this conclusion is only true of the first two endings. If one considers the first ending that Charles creates, then Charles succeeds in adaptation genetically and culturally, but not as a constructed modern protagonist. Ironically, this first ending is often dismissed because it is created by Charles and not by the narrator: ". . . the last few pages you have read are not what happened, but what [Charles] spent the hours between London and Exeter imagining might happen" (226). Fowles even refers to his "two endings" ( Wormholes 144). Yet, because the narrator conspicuously expresses his wish to avoid the role of the omnipotent god (82), it seems likely that he wishes us to consider Charles's version equally with his own. It is also ironic that this first ending actually provides Charles with his best chance at survival, for Darwin defines it as the struggle for "personal reproductive success" (Gould), and seven offspring is pretty successful: "Charles and Ernestina did not live happily ever after; but they lived together. . . . They begat what shall it be–let us say seven children" (264-65).
       Culturally, Charles accepts, albeit reluctantly, the fall of the landed gentleman and the rise of earned money by accepting the Freeman legacy. His aristocratic snobbery is sufficiently repressed to the extent that he eventually becomes the very breed of man he despises. If they survive–and we are told "[Charles and Ernestina's] sons today still control the great shop [of Freeman's] and all its ramifications" (265)–his offspring will live on earned money because Uncle Robert's wealth and title will go to his progeny, "not one heir, but two" (265). Charles's children will probably grow up without the hatred of the middle class that Charles exhibits, and the cultural evolution will be well on its way. Even Uncle Robert's children, although they will inherit the landed money and title, will more than likely have different attitudes than their father and cousin. Robert is much older than his wife–whose first husband was not a gentleman, but a colonel in the Fortieth Hussars (161)–so she will presumably outlive him, and it will be her cultural behaviors that will find greater influence in the lives of the Winsyatt household. Hence, the Victorian gentleman grows near to cultural extinction despite the reproductive success of the individuals Charles and Robert, and Charles's marriage to Ernestina exemplifies his own cultural adaptation to the rising class of new money. Of course, this new class that Charles reluctantly embraces is, like the wooly mammoth, neither better nor worse in any cosmic sense than the aristocracy.
       The second ending also demonstrates the success of Charles both genetically and culturally, though it, too, fails to provide us with the modern protagonist. Lalage is proof of his genetic success. Charles evolves culturally by choosing a marriage based on the modern motive of passion rather than on the Victorian one of economic status. His choice is also made in an attempt to escape the "trap" (234) he finds himself in when his uncle's money will no longer sustain him as a gentleman. He must do something, but rather than evolve into someone like Freeman, he embraces a woman of ill repute for whom he need not work to maintain her social status and fashion. Yet, Sarah has been an enigma to Charles, and marriage will surely destroy her mystery, which is her attraction to Charles. When Sarah (twice) shows Charles two (not one or three) tests in her hands, she's not helping him into manhood, she's "grabbing him by the balls," so to speak, and rendering him an almost helpless victim: "But [Charles] felt the two tests [Sarah had given him] in his pockets; some kind of hold she had on him" (115). In many ways, she becomes, not the protagonist or the helper of the novel, but the antagonist to Charles, and a marriage based on the kind of compulsive obsession Sarah encourages in him with her conscious manipulation can only further victimize him. Therefore, although this middle ending suggests reproductive and cultural success, as in the first, Charles's personal happiness seems doubtful.
       Ironically, it is the final ending that provides the least chance of survival, both genetically and culturally, for Charles. The narrative does not indicate that the young child in the stairwell belongs to either Sarah or Charles, so we must assume that he has yet to produce offspring. The "burning look of rejection" that he issues Sarah just before his exit (364) indicates that it may be some time before he involves himself with another woman, if ever. Unless he performs differently with future prostitutes than he did with the one who looked like Sarah, his chances of reproductive success appear remote. The following passage suggests that he will remain isolated, like Sarah, for the rest of his life:
       "Without knowing why he stared down at the gray river, now close, at high tide. It meant return to America; it meant thirty-four years of struggling upwards–all in vain, in vain, in vain, all height lost; it meant, of this he was sure, a celibacy of the heart as total as hers" (365). If "a celibacy of the heart" translates into sexual abstinence, then genetic success appears remote, indeed. Cultural success for Charles seems as ubiquitous as genetic success, for he cannot accept Sarah's implicit invitation to join her Bohemian lifestyle, and he still thinks himself "superior" to her (364). His refusal to see a relationship with her in any other way than the traditional one of marriage makes him unfit for the new cultural lifestyle Sarah embraces.
       As Charles clings to his vision of himself as a Victorian gentleman, he becomes selected out of existence. Notes written by Fowles's wife, Elizabeth, indicate Charles's lack of development in this final ending: "'. . . but [Charles] does not break through completely, for he has a sort of built-in conditioning. His character demands that in spite of everything he remains a man of his times'" (Higdon 353). Charles fails to evolve in this final ending, for even the final passage which mentions the "atom of faith" Charles has at last found for himself is undercut by the following phrase that he "would still bitterly deny [his realization]" which is that life "is to be, however inadequately, emptily, hopelessly into the city's iron heart, endured" (366). To endure is not to be free. Freedom in the novel becomes one of those slippery concepts with which even the narrator grapples uneasily and ineffectually, and I will come to this point again in a moment. For now, I wish to point out that if Charles evolves at all in this last ending, it is as the literary construct we call the modern protagonist. His prospects certainly don't appear better than those in the first and middle endings. He seems like the conventional modern hero now rather than the Victorian one–alienated from everything around him including himself, finding that all the order he has vainly attempted to give to life has failed him.
       This leads me to my discussion of the narrator and his own adaptation to the changing cultural conventions around him. The artificial narrator unifies the Darwinian theme. He, too, is not immune to change. Like the characters he invents, he is both a product of the past and a creature of adaptation. Without the ability to adapt, the narrator could not survive natural selection. So, in Chapter Thirteen, in an attempt to extend beyond his Victorian "inheritance," and fully acknowledging the experimental novelists who have already been culturally selected, he addresses us, as he must, and admits the artificiality of his enterprise: "I do not know. This story I am telling is all imagination. These characters I create never existed outside my own mind. If I have pretended until now to know my characters' minds and innermost thoughts, it is because I am writing in (just as I have assumed some of the vocabulary and 'voice' of) a convention universally accepted at the time of my story: that the novelist stands next to God. He may not know all, yet he tries to pretend that he does. But I live in the age of Alain Robbe-Grillet and Roland Barthes; if this is a novel, it cannot be a novel in the modern sense of the word" (80). The narrator seems to imply less that his novel is not a modern one and more that modern novels, despite their rejection of convention, cannot help but contain, like his, some part of their ancestry known as convention, hearkening again the epigraph of the third chapter which states that "the chief part of the organization of every living creature is due to its inheritance" (15).
       Some scholars have noted the narrator's evolution from a Victorian to a modern one (Huffaker, among others). The need for the narrator to adapt to the loss of authorial omniscience in the twentieth century has already been illustrated. But I would contend that the narrative does not "parody" the conventions it relies upon; it, rather, illustrates the necessary presence of the past in the future–the "inheritance." I would also contend that the narrator's intrusions do more than challenge what Huffaker calls the "contemporary fixation upon the illusion of detachment" (101). Interestingly, they foreshadow what would later be defined by literary critics as the self-consciousness of postmodern literature.
       Fowles, of course, could not have thought of himself as a postmodern writer at the time he composed The French Lieutenant's Woman, which was published in 1969, just as the look on Sarah's face could not have been recognized by Charles as a look from a century to come (146). In Postmodernism and Its Critics, John McGowan places the beginning of the "postmodern" as a specific form of cultural critique around 1975 (ix). As has been observed in many of Fowles's contemporaries, such as Kurt Vonnegut, Vladimir Nabokov, and Julian Barnes among others, the postmodern tendency to subvert all systems and absolutes manifests itself in the like subversion of literature. One result from this subversion, which might today be recognized as a postmodern convention (I can hear the uproar against this phrase already), is the self-conscious author who recognizes and admits that his art, like life, is one more artificial construct: "This story I am telling is all imagination. These characters I create never existed outside my own mind" (80). This sounds much like Vonnegut's narrator in Slaughterhouse-Five, published in 1966: "As a trafficker in climaxes and thrills and characterizations, I had outlined the Dresden story many times" (5). Fowles's narrator, perhaps without realizing it, becomes a "hopeful monster" which eventually becomes selected, like his contemporary postmodern writers, for cultural survival.
       Moreover, the narrator's inclusion of all three endings illustrates how genetic and cultural evolution are in part generated by hazard. Gould states in his documentary Evolution and Human Equality that history could have brought about unequal races among humans, but it didn't. He says that the process of evolution is not purely random because of the relationship between local environments and natural selection. But he further explains that there does exist an element of chance in the types of mutations and hybrids that occur–the hairy elephant, for example. According to Gould, this means that the history of evolution could not possibly occur the same way twice. Hence, Fowles demonstrates with his triple ending the equally "plausible" ways his narrative can evolve. Rather than choose one over the others, he allows the narrative to become a new hybrid of its own, void of a definitive ending, a "hopeful monster" waiting to see if the vastly changing culture will select it for success.
       This isn't a "terrible freedom" pursued by the novelist-narrator anymore than Charles's multiple courses are. The narrator is an ammonite, like Charles, "caught in the vast movements of history" (262). The novel compares Charles to an ammonite more than once, and this suggests that history is not only horizontal, but also circular: "Whatever happened to [Charles] such moments would recur" (253) the narrator explains of Charles's moment with the child of the Sarah-like whore. And, of course, we see him again in the middle ending entertaining his own child with the watch in the same way (358). After Charles's break up with Ernestina, the narrator says that Charles "felt like a Judah, an Ephialtes, like every traitor since time began" (302). We are also told that "he felt the enormous apparatus rank required a gentleman to erect around himself was like the massive armor that had been the death warrant of so many ancient saurian species" (230). The narrator later asserts:
Perhaps you see very little link between the Charles of 1267 with all his newfangled French notions of chastity and chasing after Holy Grails, the Charles of 1867 with his loathing of trade, and the Charles of today, a computer scientist deaf to the tender humanists who begin to discern their own redundancy. But there is a link: they all rejected or reject the notion of possession as the purpose of life, whether it be of a woman's body, or of high profit at all costs, or of the right to dictate the speed of progress. The scientist is but one more form [of the same]; and will be superseded. (234)
       Fowles suggests that despite evolution, every species contains part of its ancestry and each fights and often loses the same kinds of battles fought and lost centuries before. Evolution means both change and no change.
       This kind of evolution that is both horizontal and circular portrays a lack of freedom despite the contradictory moments in the novel when Charles and the narrator imagine otherwise. For the narrator says himself: "Darwinism, as its shrewder opponents realized, led open the floodgates to something far more serious than the undermining of the Biblical account of the origins of man; its deepest implications lay in the direction of determinism and behaviorism" (99). Determinism and behaviorism contradict the notion of existentialism. Charles may imagine that he embraces a "terrible freedom" (Barnum 73), but the novel indicates that his ability to choose freely is hindered by more than the lack of a rational system on which he might base his decisions. His freedom to choose is drastically limited by other forces, as the narrator, too, discovers: "When Charles left Sarah on her cliff edge, I ordered him to walk straight back to Lyme Regis. But he did not; he gratuitously turned and went down to the Dairy" (81). The narrator discovers that even his own creativity is limited by other forces. As in life, other people, natural elements, and chance limit the freedom of individuals.
       Yet Fowles contradicts himself even in his nonfiction essays. In "The Blinded Eye," he says that "[m]y freedom depends solely on [nature's] freedom. Without my freedom, I should not want to live" ( Wormholes 268). Yet, he states in "An Unholy Inquisition," an interview with Dianne Vipond, that "[w]e all know we've been born in prison; must accept the bars, yet crave freedom" (Wormholes 369). Despite the narrator's claim that he is a god of "the new theological image, with freedom our first principle, not authority" (82), his characters–and we readers–are no more free than he. Critics who will have us believe that Fowles's novel "is about freeing modern humanity" (Huffaker 92) have missed the crucial point that The French Lieutenant's Woman strives to make: that none of us are free, that freedom is an illusion like fiction, and that we are "all in flight from the real reality" (82) which is this lack of freedom. The narrator implores us: "I would have you share my own sense that I do not fully control these creatures of my mind, any more than you control–however hard you try, . . . your children, colleagues, friends, or even yourself" (82). The world is too much with us, both the burden of the past and the pressure of the future. God may not be "[o]mniscient and decreeing" (82), but neither are the rest of us–novelist, character, reader, or otherwise.

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