Sincerest apologies for this late post, as I cannot begin to explain the technical difficulties I have been having. Without further adieu, here is my topical presentation summary. Maud Bailey is faced with many difficulties throughout the A.S. Byatt’s “Possession”, and toward the end, she is confronted with finding out where she really comes from, and is, at last, at ease with herself. A.S. Byatt makes Maud stand-offish towards others which can be viewed as Maud protecting her “real self”. Throughout the book it can be argued that Maud is fearful that her “real self” prevents her from having real relationship with others, such as Roland. This could be tied in with the fact that for most of the novel, she is not aware of who she truly is or where she comes from, creating a character who is uneasy and incomplete.
While reading “Possession” I found myself getting more and more curious as to who Maud was as a character, where she came from and what the true story behind her was. Early on in the novel I saw the parallels between Cristabel LaMotte and Maud Bailey, especially in relation to her relationship with Roland. Though the reader is not always aware of it, the story of “Possession” is arguably a story following Maud’s quest of finding her “self”. Maud represents the character who strives to find comfort in her own skin through this quest to gain answers to a mysterious love story, which is quite literally possessing her, along with all of her colleagues.
The overall use of the word “possession” and “possessed” throughout the novel leads me to the argument that Maud unknowingly became possessed with finding her real “self” in a quest which she did not know was even about herself. She was aware of her relation to LaMotte, but her captivation with LaMotte’s work lead her to a moment of realization and coming to terms with herself, which she had never expected. This brings me to Lacanian theory, which would argue that Maud’s moment of recognition that she can be complete starts the onset of desire to find out more, whether she was aware of it or not. She was possessed with what would become of this love story, and this possession projected. Stumbling upon the letters between Ash and LaMotte represents the moment of recognition, whether Maud is conscious of that or not. This desire creates a “gravitational pull” of sorts, which brings Maud to a feeling of utter wholeness that we don’t see until the very end of the novel.
1. Do you think that Maud had even the slightest inkling of a clue as to whether or not she was related to Randolph Henry Ash? Why or Why not?
2. Do you think that Maud Bailey as a character would be any different if A.S. Byatt wrote a book about what happened after Maud’s discovery of her heritage?