Essay Characterization in The Good Soldier

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In The Good Soldier, Ford Maddox Ford does not fully develop any of the characters. The reader is intended to use the narrator Dowell’s disconnected and inaccurate impressions to build a more complete version of who the characters are, as well as form a more accurate view of what actually happens with “the sad affair” (Ford 9) of Dowell’s pathetic life. This use of a single character’s various perceptions creates a work that follows the style of literary impressionism, which, to some extent, should be only a series of personal impressions that culminates in the portrayal of reality as “a subjective experience” (van Gunsteren 239). This very subjectivity of reality is clearly evident in Dowell’s perception of other people and events.…show more content…
He also says that her heart had made him lead the life “of the sedulous, strained nurse” (13), constantly needing to watch her and protect her from anything that might possibly excite her or cause damage to her heart. While this apparently constrictive relationship could be construed as irritating, Dowell does not seem to have any objection to the role Florence has given him, even when he later realizes that she had faked her heart condition to manipulate him. For the most part, Florence even inspires some degree of pity in him, and she often becomes “poor dear Florence” (12) in his mind. That he is capable of pity for such a manipulative person is only explained by his oblivious nature. This particular version of Florence shows the full extent of his lack of understanding as he attempts to explain things to himself. It also shows the degree of his gullibility. Dowell also describes Florence as weak and simple-minded, saying that “she was bright and she danced” (17). This portrays Florence as an essentially superficial person. However, this superficiality does not really say anything directly about Florence, but illustrates what Thomas C. Moser phrases as “Dowell’s conviction of the meaninglessness of existence” (Moser 354). Dowell’s life consists entirely of a series of dinners and teas, none of which he sees any point in, aside for
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