Chapter 10: It*s More Than Just Rain or Snow Chapter 23: It*s Never

“Thomas Hardy, a considerably better
Victorian writer than Edward B. -L., has a
delightful story called “The Three Strangers”
(1883) in which a condemned man
(escaped), a hangman, and the escapee’s
brother all converge on a shepherd's house
during a christening party. The hangman
doesn’t recognize his quarry (nor do the
members of the party), but the brother
does, and runs away, leading to a manhunt
and general hilarity, all of which takes
place on a, well, dark and stormy night,”
(Foster 76).
He uses it to force the men together.
(Plot device)
 Rain is good for setting the mood, as
anything (good or bad) can take place
in the rain. (Atmospherics)
 No one likes being stuck in the rain.
(Misery factor)
 All sorts seek shelter from the rain.
(Democratic element)
A stroll through rain can be deciphered
as a symbolic cleansing, yet if you fall
into the mud, you can become more
stained than before.
 It is used in works for its restorative
properties. (i.e. the ending to A Farewell
to Arms when the protagonist walks out
of the hospital into the rain)
 Symbol of Spring, so associated with new
“When you read about a rainbow, as in
Elizabeth Bishop’s poem “The Fish” (1947),
where she closes with the sudden vision that
“everything / was rainbows, rainbows,
rainbows,” you just know there’s some
element of this divine pact between
human, nature, and God,” (Foster 79-80).
 In literature, it is used to symbolize promise
and peace between earth and heaven.
“Dickens uses a miasma, a literal and
figurative fog, for the Court of Chancery,
the English version of American probate
court where estates are sorted out and
wills contested, in Bleak House (1853)”
(Foster 80).
“And in “The Dead,” Joyce takes his hero to a
moment of discover; Gabriel, who sees himself as
superior to other people, has undergone an
evening in which he is broken down little by little,
until he can look out at the snow, which is “general
all over Ireland,” and suddenly realize that snow,
like death, is the great unifier, that it falls, in the
beautiful image, “upon all the living and the
dead,”(Foster 80-81).
“For an English professor, and for any avid
reader, having a blithely ignorant (and
only recently clued-in) husband narrate
the saga of his wife’s longtime infidelity is
about as good as it gets.
But I digress. Why, you ask, are they
habitués of the spa? Florence and
Edward are ill, of course.
Heart trouble. What else?” (Foster 208).
Homer (author of The lliad and The
Odyssey) often mentioned his characters as
having “a heart of iron,” which in the Bronze
Age, was the most durable metal.
 Sophocles (along with many other great
writers) portrayed it as “the center of
emotion within the body” (Foster 208).
 Heart disease is a usual motif of those
suffering from: “bad love, loneliness, cruelty,
pederasty, disloyalty, cowardice, lack of
determination,” (Foster 209) among other
Foster, Thomas C. How to Read Literature
Like a Professor. New York: HarperCollins
Publishers Inc., 2003. Print.

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