The Characters of Emily and Walter Possess Sentiment and Reason

The Characters of Emily and Walter Possess Sentiment and Reason
Walter Shandy and Emily St Aubert both use the power of reason to keep their emotions in check, but that is where the similarities end. Emily cares greatly about the sufferings of those around her, while Walter only thinks about why sufferings are brought upon him. Walter and Emily share the attributes of reason and sentimentality, but let these traits govern their actions in very different ways.

Walter Shandy is a highly reasonable man. He knows much of the great old philosophers, ancient texts, and scientific breakthroughs. This love of reason tends to make Walter lose his sentimental qualities. Take for instance the episode where he learns of his son Bobby?s death:
"My father managed his affliction?indeed differently from most men either ancient or modern; for he neither wept it away?or slept it off?or hang?d it, or drowned it, nor did he curse it, or damn it, or excommunicate it?He got rid of it however" (Sterne 290).

He is overcome with grief and the only way he can be rid of the pain he feels is by quoting the wisdom of death as told by many philosophers. Never once is there any mention of him shedding a single tear over the death of his son.

Another example of Walter?s over analytical attitude is when Tristam has that unfortunate meeting with the window sash. The first thing he does is go and get some texts on circumcisions. After finding that "the Egyptians, -the Syrians, -the Phoenicians, -the Arabians" (Sterne 318) and many other cultures did this he should not "fret or fume" (Sterne 318) about the matter. However, after word got out in the town about what had happened, he decided that action needed to be taken and decided to put Tristam into breaches. He first consults with his wife, who is no help at all in the matter. She, knowing her husband all too well, agreed with his every word. Then he conculted a text on clothing to see which material, color, and fasteners the breeches should have to give his son the best social chances.

There are only a few moments in the novel that Walter actually shows some signs of sentimentality and even those are caused by his tendency to over rationalize situations. The reactions should probably be called over-dramatic more than sentimental. In the occasion when Tristam?s nose is injured, his father reacts by throwing:

"himself prostrate across the bed in the wildest disorder imaginable, but at the same time, in the most lamentable attitude of a man borne down with sorrows, that ever the eye of pity dropp?d a tear for" (Sterne 175).

This is a case of misplaced sympathy. Instead of feeling bad for his poor sons? misfortune he instead feels bad that these actions are happening to him. "Did ever a man?did ever a poor unfortunate man?receive so many lashes?" (Sterne 225). The only true sympathy is shown to his brother, Toby. When he upsets him by making fun of his "hobby-horse", he begs the pardon of "this rash humour which my mother gave me" (Sterne 93).

Emily, on the other hand, uses her reason to keep her emotion under control not to hide them. She does tend to be overly sympathetic at times, but mostly has a good balance of the two traits. When her mother was dying she remained strong, "never had Emily felt the importance of the lesions, which had taught her to restrain her sensibility?and never had she practiced them with a triumph so complete" (Radcliffe 19). She did grieve and shed tears, but when she was needed to be strong she could contain her emotions. She uses this strength many times in the novel. When her aunt is arguing with Montoni, he causes Emily to fall and cut her head and causes her aunt to violently pass out. Emily rushes to make sure her aunt is alright without even noticing that she is hurt as well. She selflessly stayed by her aunts side until she returned to concsiousness. Unlike Walter who never even went to check on his son after hearing he was hurt, Emily shows true sympathy to those around her.

The way the two characters handle death is quite different as well. When Emily?s aunt, who had shown her nothing but contempt and lack of respect, died, she stayed by her bed and "frequently addressed herself to Heaven for support and protection" (Radcliffe 375). Instead of over rationalizing the situation like our friend Walter, Emily resigns herself to her sadness and seeks comfort not in reason, which would be of no help at this juncture, but in God.

The one common trait found between Walter and Emily is how they both use nature as an escape and even then they use it in totally different ways. When Walter learns about Tristam?s unfortunate naming, he goes out and sits by the fish pond, because "there is something?so unaccountably becalming in an orderly and sober walk towards one of them" (Sterne 241). Emily looks to Nature many times for comfort through out The Mysteries of Udolpho. One example comes after the death of her mother:

"The scene before them bore some resemblance, though it was on a much grander scale, to a favourite one of the late Madame St. Aubert, within view of the fishing-house. They both observed this, and thought how delighted she would have been with the present landscape, while they knew that her eyes must never, never more open upon this world" (Radcliffe 29).

For her, nature isn?t a place to be reasonable, but to be sentimental. Never once is there a description of her using nature as a place to work out deep problems, but to retain some sympathetic feeling of people dear to her that have been lost.

Yes, Emily does spend much time of the book swooning and crying, but those actions are what make a person human. Walter, with his over rationalization of everything, makes him lose his sense of humanity. His belief that he is being punished by all the bad things that happen to his son and his lack of sympathy towards he who has suffered so, is the cause of this loss. Emily shows sympathy towards all around her. Even in her darkest hours she can sympathize with the plights of others. Instead of being over rational, Emily tends to let her emotions run away on her, though she does tend to catch them in the end. Neither of these characters perfectly balances their reason and sentiment, but to do so would make them seem even less human then they already are.

The Characters of Emily and Walter Possess Sentiment and Reason 9.1 of 10 on the basis of 4265 Review.