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"We Have Always Lived In The Castle" - The Theme of Isolatio

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Angela S

on 31 January 2014

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Transcript of "We Have Always Lived In The Castle" - The Theme of Isolatio

"We Have Always Lived In The Castle" - The Theme of Isolation
Angela Sleeper

Isolation in the Blackwood House
"...the lock on the gate; it was a simple padlock and any child could have broken it, but on the gate was a sign saying PRIVATE NO TRESPASSING and no one could go past that....Our mother disliked the idea of anyone who wanted to walking past our front door, and when our father brought her to live in the Blackwood house, one of the first things he had to do was close off the path and fence in the entire Blackwood property" (Jackson 18)
The Blackwood House
The Blackwood house was fenced off by Merricat's father to prevent people using the lawn as a shortcut.
Merricat and Constance's lives are "lived toward the back of the house, on the lawn and garden where no one else ever came" (Jackson 20)
Merricat considers the house to be her safe place- she only ever ventures out on Fridays and Tuesdays to go shopping, Constance and Julian stay inside (Jackson 2)
The Blackwood House
The only visitor who ever comes to the house is Helen Clarke- everyone else stays away from it
Constance does not do well around too many people, and Merricat has to make sure she will be okay with visitors
Merricat loves to use protective magic and has her own ways of keeping the house safe from visitors- she has nailed an old book of her father's to a tree, hoping it will protect the house
The Blackwood House
Since the house is blocked off to everyone except for the Blackwood Family and Helen Clarke, it provides a safe haven for Constance, Merricat, and Julian. They are able to stay safe and secluded from the other people in the village.
How the Villagers isolate the Blackwells
The other families in the village despise the Blackwells because they always have enough money to buy what they need and live so comfortably
They taunt Merricat when she comes into town to shop, often making comments about the fact that almost the entire family is dead
The Blackwells try to stay away from the other villagers as much as possible because of this
Helen Clarke is really the only villager who tries to help the Blackwells
The Blackwood Family
At the beginning of the book, all of the family members besides Constance, Mary Katherine (Merricat) and Uncle Julian are dead because Merricat poisoned their sugar with arsenic, intending to only spare Constance, who did not use sugar.
The remaining members of the Blackwood Family still live in the Blackwood house, along with
the cat, Jonas.
"Merricat, said Connie, would you like a cup of tea?
Oh no, said Merricat, you'll poison me.
Merricat, said Connie, would you like to go to sleep?
Down in the boneyard ten feet deep!" (Jackson 16)
The Chant of the Village Children
Merricat's Isolation
Merricat stays in the Blackwell house, except for Fridays and Tuesdays, when she heads out to do shopping
She despises all the villagers because they constantly taunt her when she comes to shop
Merricat finishes her shopping as quickly as she can, and stops at Stella's for coffee even though she would rather go straight home
"Stella would see me pass if I did not go in, and perhaps think I was afraid, and that thought I could not endure" (Jackson 2).
Merricat's Isolation
Merricat also felt incredibly isolated within her family. She was only close to Constance because she felt Constance really cared about her.
When she was sent to bed without her dinner as punishment from her parents, Constance brought it to her secretly.
Merricat's Isolation
After Charles threatens Merricat with punishment, she runs to the summerhouse to be alone and has a vision of having dinner with her family:
""Mary Katherine, we love you."
"Mary Katherine must never be punished. Must never be sent to bed without her dinner."
"Bow all your heads to our adored Mary Katherine" (Jackson 96).
The vision reveals that Merricat must have been feeling very unhappy and unloved within her family- she wanted to feel loved and not be punished. Her unhappiness within her family led her to poison them.
Constance's Isolation
Constance spends all of her time inside the Blackwood house and does not venture too far outside
"Today she had come to the end of the garden... she was standing with the house behind her... and I ran to meet her.
"Merricat," she said, smiling at me, "look how far I came today" (Jackson 19).
Merricat checks to make sure Constance is okay with extra visitors when Helen Clarke brings Mrs. Wright along with her, asking if she will be afraid- Constance may have a fear of being around too many people
Uncle Julian's Isolation
Uncle Julian is very ill and eccentric
He sometimes confuses Constance for his wife
He believes Merricat died in an orphanage after the poisoning and is unaware of her presence
He lives in the Blackwood house and never leaves due to his illness, but is able to sit outside the house on sunny days
The other villagers find him strange because of the way he thinks
He loves to remember things: Julian always tells the story of the poisoning of his family and writes all his memories down on his "papers".
Constance is the only family member Julian has left to interact with: He does not like Charles and he is unaware that Merricat is alive, but Constance is always there to take care of him.
Uncle Julian's Isolation
"How are you today?" she (Stella) asked.
"Very well, thank you."
"And Constance Blackwood, is she well?"
"Very well, thank you."
"And how is
"As well as can be expected" (Jackson 11).
Near the end of the Story
The secluded world of the Blackwoods is torn apart after the fire is started by Charles's pipe
The firefighters had to gain entrance to the house in order to put the fire out
Once the firefighters were by the house, it gives the villagers a chance to finally pass through the fence- the invisible barrier that kept them out was broken by the firefighters
The villagers release all of their pent-up frustrations against the Blackwoods, destroying their house and furniture- the safe haven of the Blackwood family is no longer protected from the villagers
Uncle Julian dies from a heart attack-
Constance, Merricat and Jonas are the only remaining Blackwoods
Near the end
of the Story
After the house is wrecked by the villagers, Merricat and Constance try to rebuild their safe place
They isolate themselves even more, blocking off the parts of the house they can't bear to look at and boarding up the windows so that no one can see inside
They decide to only go out into the garden when they are certain no one is around
The villagers eventually feel bad for trashing the house and supply Constance and Merricat with food
The sisters accept the food, but they do not speak to anyone, or go outside when anyone is around at all
Merricat sets rules for herself for where she is or isn't allowed to go around the house: she stays away from Uncle Julian's room and his things, as well as her father's room.
"I discovered that I was no longer allowed to go to the creek; Uncle Julian was there, and it was much too far from Constance. I never went farther away than the edge of the woods, and Constance went only as far as the vegetable garden" (Jackson 140).
Jackson, Shirley.
We Have Always
Lived In The Castle
. New York: Penguin
Books, 2006. Print.
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