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The Importance of Appearance

One recurring theme I noticed throughout the play is this idea of the importance of appearance and how  the idea gets played with through the characters. Just in the first two acts there is a number of examples of this. For Miss Hardcastle as made apparent in the first act, she cares more about her appearance in front of her friends than when she is at home with her family, suggesting how she values the opinion of her friends highly, while still wanting to appease her father at the same time. Marlow furthers this notion of the importance of appearance when describes the affect of appearance in his dealing with women. He says “They may talk of a comet, or a burning mountain, or some such bagatelle; but, to me, a modest woman, drest out in all her finery, is the most tremendous object of the whole creation” (II.40-43). For Marlow, whether a woman is well dressed in appearance dictates how he will act around them. If they are of better appearance, he turns in to an extremely timid and nervous man, whereas when he is in the presence of someone such as barmaid, he can act normal.  In the dinner scene which many have described in the blog, I feel like this idea of “high food” or “food as art” gets broken down. As we have discussed over and over in class, this idea of high food is supposed to be viewed as better both in appearance and in taste. However, I viewed the scene in which Marlow rejects the the pork for instead items such as, “a pork pie, a boiled rabbit and sausages, a Florentine, a shaking pudding, and a dish of tiff—taff—taffety cream” (II.103) is quite telling. Marlow, who believes this to be an inn, has no reason to front any sort of appearance, and as a result orders the food which he enjoys most, not that which he pretends to like most. I think there is a much larger message about appearance (as well as the idea that it can also be very misleading) as an overarching theme being described here, but I don’t think it will be made  clear till I finish the play completely. Any thoughts? 

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One thought on “The Importance of Appearance

  1. Hi Brian, I’ve always been fascinated with the psychology of appearances and am glad you brought this aspect up. Generally speaking, I think most people believe that throughout history, power has lied with those with a Y chromosome. But this notion of Marlow being “timid” around an attractive woman seems to flip the tables on that. Power seems to be relative, depending on the insecurities of the people involved, which you highlighted perfectly with the food he ordered at the Inn. Furthermore, I think it’s very interesting that food can be used as a means of illustrating said power. It’s a funny concept that ordering a certain dish can ultimately affect one’s vantage point of a situation, and how the other people view them in that situation. I wonder what that says about people stuffing their faces with fast food nowadays??

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