Of Woolf’s late short stories, I found Lappin and Lappinova to be the most entertaining. Prior to reading the story, I had heard an abundance of praise about it; therefore, I feared the actual reading would be a let down. However, I was mistaken and once again, Woolf did not disappoint. I actually think I enjoyed reading this work more than other short stories we have read this semester.
Many of the elements and overarching concepts included in Lappin and Lappinova reminded me of Mrs. Dalloway. After reading both, the reader can immediately draw comparisons regarding the thoughts of a wife involved in a disappointing marriage. In Lappin and Lappinova, it seemed as if Rosalind created a fantasy world to live in to escape the constraints placed on her by marriage to Ernest. Woolf repeatedly mentions Rosalind’s mother-in-law and the dining room at Porchester Terrace as a way to show the pressure placed on Rosalind to conform to the accepted standards of the Thorburn family. In Mrs. Dalloway, we see similar constraints felt by Clarissa. Although the two women seem to escape the pressure in different ways, it is apparent that both feel somewhat inferior to their husband’s lifestyle. Clarissa chooses to contemplate a different life and become somewhat secluded from her husband, while Rosalind chooses to pull her husband into a fantasy world where they can both exist peacefully. Through the comparison of these two works, one can see the inner thoughts of a woman who does not find her marriage or husband entirely fulfilling.
In addition, Rosalind seems to become completely removed from the reality that is her marriage. The repeated imagery of Ernest’s ‘nose twitching’ is something I found particularly interesting. By the end of the story, I concluded that the nose twitching was a voluntary rather than involuntary reaction. It was almost like a little game Ernest played with Rosalind to make her happy. Once time passed, however, the game got old and he stopped playing so their marriage ended. If thinking of the nose twitching as an involuntary action, the reader can see the man as the controlling force within the relationship. Rosalind and Queen Lapinova were subject to Ernest’s moods and his ability to actually engage in the marriage. When he stopped engaging was when the marriage ended; therefore, he seemed to be in control the entire time. I think it would have been entertaining to see Rosalind walk away from the marriage on her own accord realizing that she was not happy. However, having the man in control is a reoccurring theme in Woolf’s work and is one that speaks volumes about the subordination of the female.
I also found the repeated mention of the color ‘yellow’ to be somewhat significant. The color is mostly used when Rosalind and Ernest are visiting his home. Woolf also uses the color gold to describe the lavish qualities of the home. I think these two colors are used as a tool for making Rosalind feel inferior. Yellow and gold seem to give an aura of happiness and richness, two things that Rosalind does not possess.
Overall I really enjoyed reading Lappin and Lapinova and am interested to see what the rest of the class thought of the work.