The section I am choosing to provide a close reading on is page 129-130, the last paragraph on 129, starting with “Roland objected to…”.
What caught my focus in this section was the clearly defined reversal of gender roles between Roland and Maud. Roland is being “ridiculous” and “romantic” because he has a “vision” of sharing “emotion” with Maud in an intimate system of discovery. Maud has a system based on efficiency that follows logic and reasoning to maximize their “little time” while at the same time removing the inconvenience of emotion. Perhaps this gender role reversal is because of their individual experiences; Maud derives only negative connotations from emotions. She is emotionally attacked because of her beauty, her motives, her successes, and later she is hurt because of an attachment to a man that brushes her off after their affair. Emotions make her vulnerable and result in she got hurt, logic and reason lead to discovery and academic recognition so they produced the better result. Roland on the other hand is with Val, who appears to me emotionally defunct and who knows neither how to process her own emotions nor how to interact with Rolland on an emotional level.
Roland’s idea that he is being “hustled” again demonstrates the idea of role reversal, and also connects back to his relationship with Val. Val is constantly manipulating and hustling him so that he stays with her. Roland is defined by the traditionally female traits of being the victim of emotional abuse resulting from the conviction of guilt that Val uses to control him. Is his fear of being “hustled” a contributing factor to his actions surrounding the discoveries of the letters both found at the library and at Seal Court? He is the assistant to a leading authority on Ash, perhaps Blackadder would be more appropriate to interpret the letters, and perhaps this is because of Roland’s eagerness to make a great discovery, or his desire to prove of the great romantic love between Ash and LaMotte?