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Monday, February 1, 2016

Pride And Prejudice And H G Wells: Part 2

In H. G. Wells' novel, Love and Mr Lewisham, our protagonist unexpectedly reunites with Miss Henderson in London. Although Mr Lewisham is still smarting from the blows to his academic hopes, he has landed in a school for science teachers. While his prospects have fallen, he still holds high hopes for the future. Yet he finds himself as deeply attracted to her as before. While she begs him not to pursue her, he cannot restrain himself. She eventually relents, and lets him into her life. They spend their dates walking along the streets of London, or enjoying the parks. 

Mr Lewisham and Miss Henderson wandered along
the Serpentine arm-in-arm, over sixty years before
WOTAN took over the Post Office tower
in the Doctor Who story "The War Machines."

As their romance builds, his scholastic endeavors suffer. Eventually he gives in to his feelings and marries her. What little money he has saved quickly slips from his bank account. 

Of all his early novels, H. G. Wells reputedly worked hardest on Love and Mr Lewisham. He wished to tackle a serious subject, and he touches upon some notable social trends in England at the turn of the twentieth century. Despite Mr Lewisham's academic capabilities, one wonders if he could have achieved the goals he sought, without money and family to properly back him. His rejection of religion, and his steadfast belief in the superiority of science and socialism to guide mankind surprise him by acting more as impediments to his career than the pluses he had anticipated. Yet Mr Lewisham and Miss Henderson clearly love each other, despite never having been properly introduced. They thrill to the fact that they have found each other, even if, in doing so, they have violated society's expectations. 

As he demonstrated in his classic science fiction novels, H. G. Wells clearly had his eyes on the power of science and socialism to transform the world for the better. Yet I can't help but think that, like Mr Darcy, H. G. Wells felt society needed to be ordered and regulated by properly appointed gatekeepers, who would moderate social interaction between young people. Mr Lewisham and Miss Henderson might have waited forever to be properly introduced by people such as the master of his school, or her relations. Had Mr Lewisham honored the social contract, he might have entered and graduated from the universities and programs to which he had sought admittance. Even if he had ended up at the school for science teachers in London, he could easily have fallen in love and married Miss Heydinger, one of the female students there who admired him, and shared his interests in promoting science and socialism. 

After he fails to graduate,
Mr Lewishaw confesses that he is secretly married,
and says good-bye to Miss Heydinger,
on a quiet bench in Battersea Park.

His pursuit of Miss Henderson cost Mr Lewisham a respectable academic future. Consequently, he lost any hopes of earning more than a pittance for the rest of his life. Still, like Mr Darcy in Pride And Prejudice, who won Elizabeth Bennett's hand after rescuing her family from disgrace, Mr Lewisham earned his wife's enduring love. I have little doubt that, if you approached Mr Darcy or Mr Lewisham, and questioned either on this topic, both would tell you that the adoration of a faithful wife is one of the most precious treasures a man can possess.

That is, at least in Mr Darcy's case, assuming that you and he had previously been properly introduced.

Dragon Dave  

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