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The Fairy

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The Fairy

Postby galion » 22 May 2008, 20:29

One of the more gruesome characters in THS is of course "Fairy" Hardcastle. Lweis's description of her includes this bit of her history:
" She had been, at different times, a suffragette, a pacifist, and a British Fascist. She had been manhandled by the police and imprisoned. On the other hand, she had met Prime Ministers, Dictators, and famous film stars ..."
Many years ago, in "Mythlore", I suggested a partial model for her. Commandant Mary Allen of the Women's Police Service had been a suffragette and imprisoned among other things for breaking windows. She was one of the "pioneer policewomen" in Britain, acting on a voluntary basis in the First World War; when it became clear that the authorities only wanted women police to round up prostitutes, she obeyed orders, as distinct from many other women who jibbed at this. She went on to become "Commandant", and was at one stage Chief Women's Officer of Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists. She had met various high-ups, including A. Hitler, whom she admired, although her main Nazi connection was with H. Goering, at one time Prussian police chief. However, I'm not sure whether or not she met any film stars, and she could only be called a pacifist on the broadest possible interpretation of the word, in that in 1940 she stated that Britain should not be at war with the great Herr Hitler (at this point she suddenly stopped being Commandant).

One thing that obviously really attracted her was the wearing of uniforms, especially with plenty of leather. However, as distinct from the Fairy, if she had any sort of sex life, she kept it well hidden - though the heterosexual impulse certainly seems to have been foreign to her. I doubt if she ever wore any lipstick, and in the unlikely event that she would have done, I can't imagine that she would have smudged it!

Well, thias is just for interest and information, though if anybody wants to comment, please feel free. If you want to know more about Mary Allen, a good starting point is the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
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Postby Stanley Anderson » 22 May 2008, 21:32

Well, as some old-timers around her know, Miss Hardcastle is one of my favourite Lewis characters -- she is such a "refreshing" standout from the otherwise dreary and "careful" characters in and around the NICE. Of course she is a very nasty character and not at all one of the "good guys", but to me, she stands out as "distinct" and "recognizable" and is therefore appealing for that distinctness and recognizability as other typical Lewis favorites like Reepicheep and Puddleglum. I've started many a thread over the years with the Fairy as a topic in some way!:-)

In fact, my fascination with her as a character has in past years, in these forums, generated the rumor that I was infatuated with her (jokingly supported by comments from me here and there), and I once ran across the image below in a magazine ad that struck me as the perfect picture of Fairy going to the prom (as my date of course:-)

Image

--Stanley
…on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a fair green country under a swift sunrise.
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Postby galion » 23 May 2008, 06:18

:lol:
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Postby galion » 28 May 2008, 18:28

On second thoughts, this cannot really be The Fairy. Her lipstick is not at all smudged - and where's the leather? (if it's underneath, please don't specify)
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Postby moogdroog » 30 May 2008, 13:47

That is such a brilliant picture, Stanley! I have an especial fondness for the Fairy - she's a fantastic villain, and there's something about her that redeems her, somehow. Can't quite put my finger on it. I keep meaning to go back to drawing Sorns, but the Fairy now seems a more interesting subject!
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Postby Stanley Anderson » 31 May 2008, 04:56

moogdroog wrote:That is such a brilliant picture, Stanley! I have an especial fondness for the Fairy - she's a fantastic villain, and there's something about her that redeems her, somehow. Can't quite put my finger on it.


Even Frost and Wither (I think it is) talk in the book about how she does not have the sort of deep evil that would allow her to become one of the initiates to the inner ring of the NICE.

I keep meaning to go back to drawing Sorns, but the Fairy now seems a more interesting subject!


Oh, please see what you can do -- I'd love to see the results!

--Stanley
…on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a fair green country under a swift sunrise.
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Postby galion » 31 May 2008, 08:37

I await the result with trepidation. Now look, even if the Fairy did not quite attain the austere depths of evil that Frost and Wither desired, would you like to meet her even on a fairly light evening??
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Postby Stanley Anderson » 31 May 2008, 14:34

galion wrote:Now look, even if the Fairy did not quite attain the austere depths of evil that Frost and Wither desired, would you like to meet her even on a fairly light evening??


Well, I have a theory about that (funny, that, eh?:-). Seriously.

Here it is, though I can't quite work it out to my satisfaction in my head -- it's still (after several years) just sort of a vague feeling that there is "something" to this theory if I could just hit the right aspect of it. Anyway, Lewis says in the preface that the book is meant to be a fairy tale, but that it doesn't seem like it to the average reader because it seems from the beginning so "modern". But he goes on to say that that is because we don't see traditional fairy tales in the setting they were told in. To the people that told them, they were "modern" for them and into which the fantasy element intruded. So Lewis is simply putting the setting into our time and carrying on from there.

Now another factor in this theory of mine is the more traditional view of fairies. They are definitely NOT the cutesy Disney-fied little girly-types with butterfly wings and tiny wands and smiles on their faces. If one reads the section of Lewis' book The Discarded Image on the Longaevi -- the sort of "in between" creatures, neither human nor angelic, they have a very eerie, even scary "otherness" to them that is neither here nor there, but induces confusion and uncertainty and uncanny-ness in even trying to look at or deal with them.

And this, I think, is what he was doing with Fairy Hardcastle. She Is the fairy of the story. When Mark first meets her, he doesn't quite know what to make of her with her overt "sexuality" and yet unappealing manner and directness and gaze, yet lack of warmth -- very fairy-like in the old sense. And her "history" that we hear about has that quality too -- odd mixtures of different backgrounds that one can't quite put together into a "neat" package. Even her full first and last names juxtapose a sort of oxymoronic quality of neither here nor there. My "theory" is that Lewis was indeed fashioning a "traditional" fairy tale with all the traditional elements "dressed up" in modern clothes so to speak. And Fairy Hardcastle is but one element of that. But beyond her, I haven't been able to clear up in my mind how those other elements are precisely manifested -- only a feeling that there is something to the theory and that it is right in some way that I haven't fully figured out yet.

(By the way, in connection with my other theory about THS, ie, the chessboard theory of contrasting characters and events and objects and settings between St. Annes and the NICE, Fairy's counterpart, Grace Ironwood has a very similar aspect to Fairy, though on the "good" side, still sort of eerie and uncertain about her "place" and background -- and notice that she is not in the dressing scene at the end)

(not bothering to count quotation marks in my post above -- someone else can:-),
--Stanley
…on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a fair green country under a swift sunrise.
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Postby galion » 31 May 2008, 16:18

That is really interesting! It never had occurred to me, but it does fit. And indeed one traditionally should be wary of meeting any of the Fair Folk, especially at twilight - "fair" in this sense being apotropaic, like the Greeks hoping to appease the Black Sea by calling it "Hospitable" (which it ain't), or the Furies by calling them "The Friendly Ones". You are supposed to put out some milk for them, though I suspect that in Miss hardcastle's case a large extremely dry Martini would be more appropriate.

Heck, I never count quotation marks! It's unlucky ....
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Postby Stanley Anderson » 01 Jun 2008, 01:14

By the way, I didn't mention a couple other of the Fairy's fairy-like qualities -- eg, she even has her "magic wand" in the form of a cheroot that does it's "magic spells" when the end sparkles (ie, is lit). And though I've said that she is not like the typical cutesy Disney-like fairy, there is no denying that even traditional fairies had an atmosphere of wispy, airy, waif-like nebulosity around them. And sure enough, her entourage are the WAIPS, the generally spindly more delicate women police force she surrounded herself with (even the name WAIPS conjures that sort of tenuous quality.

And of course both Merlin and the tramp have something of this fey-like quality to their personalities. Not sure how they fit in to the "traditional fairy tale elements" idea (well, a magician of course, but there is more to it, I think).

galion wrote:t never had occurred to me, but it does fit.


Yes, until it struck me, it didn't seem as "obvious" as I might have expected after thinking about later either. I mean, Lewis tells us in the preface that he is writing a fairy tale, and says that the reason he is telling us is so that people won't be led astray by the way it begins into thinking it is something different, and then he effectively tells us, with Miss Hardcastle's very name, what she "is" in relation to the story, and we are still surprised when it is pointed out afterwards. It is as though I were to say, "I'm going to hit you in the face with my fist -- Look! here is my hand formed into a fist, and now notice that it is approaching your face rapidly. Get ready", and then still being shocked and wondering exactly what happened after getting struck by it:-)

Lewis was simply a master.

--Stanley
…on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a fair green country under a swift sunrise.
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Postby moogdroog » 03 Jun 2008, 11:50

Those are great observations, Stanley and Galion. The idea of her as a 'fairy' in the old sense fits in extremely well, I think - thanks for helping me define what is so (bizarrely) appealing about her! True to form, she isn't behaving herself *at all* on paper and keeps changing shape every time I try to get a proper outline :thinking:

I'm trying to find physical details of her in the text. So, a combination of the ferocious, cold and ethereal? I'm apprehensive about combing the text for every little mention of her as I plan to re-read the Trilogy soon - and Lewis has this very annoying quality of sucking you to the story even when you just skim a page. So far I have:

- iron-grey hair, cropped short. Is this hair Sinead O' Connor kind of short, or scraped back in a more rigid, Victorian style?
- a black, short skirted uniform (Mieow!)
- a cheroot hanging out the side of the mouth.
- a square kind of face - but I imagine her as having very sharp and defined feature - sharp cheekbones, heavy jaw, etc.
- pale, smudge of lipstick - impish smile or stern look?
- I'm not sure if her eye colour is mentioned in the text, but she has a very piercing, knowing gaze, doesn't she?
- age??
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Postby galion » 03 Jun 2008, 22:30

Right, Moondroog. Let's see if we can answer some of your questions.
1. hair: not Sinead O'Connor. Straight, and brushed back severely in a style that was not, as I believe, beloved of the Victorians (except possibly Jane Eyre, and she was a weirdo anyway).
2. uniform: definitely black. Short-skirted: Lewis was writing in the days before the miniskirt, so I don't thisnk he mean around the navel. :toothy-grin: More likely the WW2 women-in-armed-forces type of skirt.
3. The cheroot: NOT, I think, hanging out of the side of the mouth, or as I think Lewis wites somewhere "seccotined to the lower lip". I imagine more at the sort of agggressive, challenging angle that Stanley portrays so well.
4. sharp features: well certainly firm. Nothing soft about the Fairy!
5. smudged lipstick: well, I think this means that she was making a contemptuous gesture towards fashion without taking any care as to how she put it on. As I've already mentioned, that's one of the few things that I think Stanley gets wrong - his Fairy's lipstick is too neat.
Stern look: at times, yes, in spades. "Impish" smile: probably more like "wolfish". :toothy-grin:
6. Eye colour: who knows? Perhaps, after a heavy night, bloodhsot?
7. age: well, she has to strike Mark as being "sexual", so given that he is a fairly stupid young man, I'd say nto much over 40, if that. More likely mid-30s.

Also, I don't really see anything "ethereal" about her - that was just Stanley's view of the WAIPs, whom I see more as the sort of fluffy blondes out of the joke book (Q: how do you know that your secretary is really a blonde? A: when you see Tippex on the PC screen. And please don't analyze that one!!) - or perhaps more like a Barbara Cartland heroine - terribly pretty, and like unto the proverbial three short planks.
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Postby galion » 03 Jun 2008, 22:37

Second thoughts: her hair is "iron grey", which doesn't usually happen to ladies much under the age of 50. So mark may have been more perceptive (or more susceptible) than I thought ....

Must think about Fairy vs Ironwood at some stage.
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Postby Stanley Anderson » 04 Jun 2008, 15:33

galion wrote:Must think about Fairy vs Ironwood at some stage.


Be sure to compare Mark's first meeting with Fairy and Jane's first meeting with Grace -- not only in manner and the odd, almost oxymoronic juxtapositions of their first and last names, but also notice the outfits and focus on legs (oddly enough), and even the cheroot vs the pencil. It is also curious that just as Fairy is head of the NICE police, Grace seems to conduct the interviews and apparently "screens" visitors to St. Annes -- not unlike a mini "policing" effort.

--Stanley
…on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a fair green country under a swift sunrise.
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Postby moogdroog » 05 Jun 2008, 16:54

Thanks very much, Galion - that's immensely helpful!

I'm using Stanley's pic very much as a base - I think it captures her perfectly . Apart from, perhaps, as you say, the lipstick :lol: This is fun! I wish there was more Cosmic Trilogy art out there. The books are due for a re-issue, I'm sure!
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