Take the Squire's Advice

I love, love, love this bit from "Wives and Daughters," one of my favorite re-watches. The father, Squire Hamley, is giving advice to his son, Roger. Roger believes that he's completely lost any chance to be with Molly, the young woman who's adored him for years. He's since proposed to her step-sister, gone to Africa on a two-year expedition, and been jilted. Now he knows he loves Molly, but because she's reluctant to be seen as setting her sights on a man of higher rank and prospects, she behaves with more reserve. Justine Waddell is just so vulnerable and heartbreaking.

Squire Hamley: I don't see why you don't put up for her still. Don't you think you could like her if you tried?

Roger: No need for trying to love her. That's already done. But it's too late. It's...it's too late. She's as good as told me so. It's my own fault. There's nothing to be done. Don't--let's not speak of it anymore.

Squire Hamley: That's nonsense, my lad. That's not the way to go about it. You made a mistake before. She won't hold it against you forever. Just tell her you love her, and if she won't have you now, then wait a while and ask her again. And don't give up trying until you've made her safe!

It's that last line about making her safe. What Squire Hamley is actually proposing is for Roger to abase himself of pride and offer his devotion without proof of return. That's seriously risky. But it's what a woman needs after she's been hurt too often. A little groveling. The old man got it right.

But of course the most fascinating character in "Wives and Daughters" is Lady Harriet, portrayed by the magnificent Rosamund Pike. She's exactingly proper where it counts, and yet she's mountains above her aristocratic cohorts when it comes to style, wit, brains, compassion, and practicality. The perfectly bland look on her face whenever her dingbat mother speaks is priceless. And what, exactly, was her relationship with dangerous Mr. Preston...?

Good stuff, all of it. *writes notes to self*

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