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Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

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I guess giving away his library was his final gift of his heart to Strange. I'm not sure that the way Norell was coded for homosexuality really fits the character in the book.

 

 

 

How was he "coded for homosexuality"?  

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How was he "coded for homosexuality"?  

 

1. No wife, in a society in which men were expected to marry.

2. No apparent interest in any female ever--most figures in history who practiced similar self-seclusion do, on examination, turn out to be gay.

3. His face lit up like a Christmas tree whenever he saw Strange. It was more than ordinary friendship--the man quite clearly has a crush.

 

The use of the word heart, I think is meant to make us understand that Strange is to Norrell what Arabella is to Strange--his all, his heart and soul.

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He could also just be asexual. That would fit with the theme of him being all about reason and logic while Strange is about feeling and intuition.

The use of the word heart when? In "The first shall bury his heart in a dark wood beneath the snow, yet still feel its ache" ?

I don't see what that has to do about Strange. I think it means he buries his heart in his library (wooden cases with white pages on them) but still deep down longs to connect with another person.

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I didn't see Norell's sexuality addressed at all. 

 

I saw passion but that is not equal to sexuality.

 

To me, it's something that is open to interpretation because it was never broached.

 

ETA:  Although I have the book and a friend has begged me to read it for years, I never have.  So my opinion is based solely on the television production.

Edited by Captanne

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If I had to choose a sexuality for Norrell I'd go with asexual because he just seemed to have absolutely no interest in people. I think his love of Strange was purely an admiration kind of love. Strange had the gift of imagination that Norrell lacked when it came to magic. Strange was able to do great magic without the books Norrell depended on so strongly. I think he loved Strange's magic more than he loved Strange.

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Do not confuse a lack of sex appeal and social awkwardness with asexuality. The asexual people I've met were as sexy as anybody else--some of the women even more so.

 

Norrell does seem to have no interest in people, somewhat like an Aspberger's sufferer. But the anguish he seems to feel when Strange ends their association I think goes beyond merely envying his magic. Yes, he probably did love the magic more, but that still doesn't mean he didn't love Strange. He would not have offered a key and access to the books, merely to hold onto him, if he felt nothing for him but envy.

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If I had to choose a sexuality for Norrell I'd go with asexual because he just seemed to have absolutely no interest in people. I think his love of Strange was purely an admiration kind of love. Strange had the gift of imagination that Norrell lacked when it came to magic. Strange was able to do great magic without the books Norrell depended on so strongly. I think he loved Strange's magic more than he loved Strange.

 

He has no interest in people--apart from Strange. And he is passionately interested in Strange. If he were only interested in magic, he would not let Strange have his books, nor forgive their loss so easily. His face would not light up so ecstatically whenever he sees Strange, and he would not be so reluctant to end their association, or talk of loneliness. He was ready at first sight to plan the next ten years of Strange's life and to live together in very close association, forever. When Strange started to talk about leaving, Norrell basically offered what amounted to marriage--here's my key, here's my house, live here and have all the access to all my stuff that I have--only don't leave me.

 

I do not think he is sitting there thinking about intercourse with Strange, or with anyone else. In that sense he could be called asexual. But asexual people do fall in love. They just don't desire or think about sex. And they fall in love with people according to their orientation. Norrell appears to me to be deeply in love with Jonathan Strange, and completely disinterested in sex. Given the era in which he lives, however, and his obsession with repectability, he might simply be a very strong-willed, disciplined homosexual who refuses to consider anything improper or unrespectable. Homosexuality was the ultimate loss of respectability, and so he may not be asexual so much as repressed. Many brilliant men were at that time.

Edited by Hecate7

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Is Mr Segundus also gay?  He's unmarried;  has no female companion.  Perhaps he's in love with Mr Honeyfoot.

 

Seriously, it's possible to put any sort of gloss on anything but I have no sense whatsoever from the book that Norrell was much troubled by sexual desire, nor that his attachment to Strange was romantic in nature.  I certainly don't see him as being framed as homosexual.

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I don't have a problem with anyone wanting to interpret Mr. Norrell as gay, even if it's entirely an act of headcanon, but I don't think it's fair to criticize the show as "coding" Mr. Norrell as gay when it's an interpretation so open to debate.

 

FWIW, I saw the characters as loving each other but not having any romantic/sexual feelings for each other.  I think Mr. Norrell desperately feared and hated magical rivals but feared and hated the idea of being entirely alone in his abilities and perspective even more. -- I also think that the latter part of his character was given to him more by some very fine acting than was present in the portion of the book that I got through.

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I'm confused about the Raven King's motives, but maybe we are supposed to be confused.  I'm assuming that the whole setup was to destroy the fairy--or was it to restore magic to England, or was it both?  Why couldn't the Raven King kill the fairy himself, if he was so powerful?  Or did magic need to return to England for that to happen?  And am I right to assume that Stephen is the King of New Hope, but not the Raven King's successor? How could the Raven King be sure that the Faerie would be so pleased with Stephen that he would offer to make him King? Both the show and the book seemed to leave it open, though I was rushing through the final chapters of the book, so perhaps I missed something?  

 

It was nice that Childermass was as awesome in the show as he was in the book.

 

Just binge watched the last 5 episodes, as I wanted to finish the book first.  

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The actual motives of the Raven King weren't clear to me either.  I think it was mostly about returning magic to England in accordance with the prophecy in his book, which was written all over Vinculus.   He changed what was written on Vinculus because that prophecy was fulfilled.  Whatever he wrote to replace it isn't known because no one can read it.  Childermass has made it his mission to figure it out, either with or without the help of other magicians.  I don't think the Raven King cared too much one way or the other about Stephen or the fairy, and Stephen isn't a successor of the Raven King.  The fairy talked about making Stephen king, but he meant for Stephen to be king of England.  In the end, ironically, Stephen did become a king -- the King of Lost Hope and the rest of the fairy lands -- because he killed the fairy.  Not what the fairy had in mind!  

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He has a number of projects in the offing, but you might be disappointed.  Enzo Cilenti sounds nothing like Childermass whose voice was something he created for the character.

 

 

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!  So disappointing to find out that's not his real voice :(   Oh well, life goes on, I suppose.

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Great discussions. I'm especially glad the show has prompted so many to pick up the book, which is just as wonderful in an entirely different way.

 

I didn't love some of the changes in the adaptation to television, even though I thought it was superb overall. I didn't like that we were in on the fake Arabella -- it was more shocking to me in the book, when we thought Arabella was really dead (momentarily). I also didn't like the way they moved Lady Pole's shooting to take place before Arabella is taken by Lost-Hope -- it's so much more moving to me that Lady Pole is finally moved to rage only after her good and loyal friend is taken away to share her private hell with the Gentleman.

 

I also didn't love the fact that Arabella was in a kind of amnesiac trance in Lost-Hope, but I get that it upped the stakes for Jonathan -- not just to save her but to get her to remember him, etc.

 

On Arabella and Jonathan, the book's ending was so romantic -- he brings the dark tower to her, near enough to see her for only a few moments, kisses her, and tells her he will find a way to return. Whereas the TV adaptation's ending was more bittersweet. I just felt bad for both of them there, although it was a beautiful scene.

 

However, I loved everything to do with Norrell in the final episode, and think the show (and the splendid Eddie Marsan) gave him real heart and humanity. His joy at rediscovering his magic and his friendship with Norrell really moved me.

 

I definitely don't see even the faintest glimmer of homoeroticism between Norrell and Strange (and I'm always a fan of HoYay). I think Norrell is simply one of those asexual people who lives in the mind, and who would simply find sex and relationships (and friendships and people in general, for that matter) messy and not worth the trouble. I do think he's capable of love, and his love and friendship for Jonathan are my favorite thing about him, because I think this badly jars him out of himself, and yet also returns himself, as his love for Jonathan is also his love for magic. I think it is certainly possible to fiercely love another person without even an iota of sexual attraction, and this is how I see Norrell's love for Strange.

 

I also disagree that Norrell was ever really a "Big Bad" -- I think that's mostly misdirection on the part of both book and show. I did wish the show had included more of the Gentleman's whimsical gifts to Stephen (it would reinforce that as horrible as the guy was, he was actually trying to be generous to him), and I wish Stephen's conflictedness about Lost-Hope had been shown.

 

Speaking of Lost-Hope, just to clarify:  I'm pretty certain that Stephen is not the king of all Faerie. He is now simply the King of Lost-Hope, which is one Faerie kingdom formerly ruled by The Gentleman. However, there are many other Faerie kingdoms reached by the King's Roads behind the mirrors, and each implied to be ruled by its own Faerie ruler (the book makes this clearer than the show), with some good and some evil. The Raven King is the King of all Faerie (and at one time of Faerie and England both).

 

As far as The Gentleman, I don't think the Raven King cared about him at all. What happened to the Gentleman was solely to do with Norrell, Strange, Lady Pole, Arabella, and Stephen and I think the only effect it had on the Raven King at all was to intensify the magical turmoil in England and perhaps hurry the return of magic to England. The moment Norrell called on The Gentleman to revive Lady Pole was simply the first domino.

 

My own take on the Raven King's motives is that he has been outside of events (worlds?) for a very long time, and that while he is very aware of almost everything that has occurred, he reacts slowly. I do think his sole care is for magic to return to England, and that he is amused by most of the kerfuffle. It is interesting and bittersweet that The Raven King saves and heals Childermass (his truest and most faithful servant in our world) and actually brings Vinculus back to life, and neither of them is ever really aware of meeting the one person they wanted to meet, or of what occurred.

 

I'll look forward to thoughts here, however, as always... It was a lovely adaptation overall, however, and one I'm still thinking about even a month later. The actors were just superb.

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Love this show so far. Love the creepiness and humor. I have learned while watching British tv that subtitles are a gift. I wonder what is going to happen when the faerie collects on his payment. 

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I loved the faerie ball. It was really creepy and glamorous. 

I think that Jonathan Strange is the second magician. Maybe Arrallable somehow joins Mr. Norrell somehow? I only say this because Mr. Strange seems to have childlike wonder for everything that is going on. 

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Just found this on Nextflix streaming as trending.  Would have watched before if I'd known it was available.  So far, I've only seen the first episode, but I'm most intrigued and busy figuring out who's in the cast .. back later 

Edited by SusanSunflower

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It has only very recently been added to Netflix. I am very happy about that as I only watched a few eps through my cable provider before it became unavailable there. Then Amazon had it, but not on Prime. I can't wait to continue and finish it!

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I think he was told that she had 75 years left to live if resurrected and thought that she would gets the first 37 years for herself and the remainder for the Fae. Personally, I still have no idea why he thought that would be the way it would work. But, even if he knew, why would that automatically be worse for her than being a corpse?

When Norrell first summoned the faerie, the Gentleman asked if resurrecting her would be worth half her life.  Norrell suggested that she might have lived to 94, another 75 years, and Gentleman agreed to that as her remaining total lifespan.

Norrell assumed she would get to live her half life first because he's naive, and has learned from books rather than experience.  Either way, he had no right to make the bargain.  He sold half of her existence with no consent from her to a being who intends to use her for his own amusement.  Norrell did it for his own selfish reasons, and has no regard for her suffering except as it affects him.

I like Lady Pole's resourcefulness in the tapestry.

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This was a really good episode.  I didn't really care for Johnathan at first, and I've been slowly changing my opinion, and at this episode find myself completely invested in his story.

The exchanges between Johnathan and the Gentleman were short but were my favorites.  Glancing over the past forums entries I see opinion on the Gentleman is split, but this falls in line with the duplicity of magical beings in the more gothic tradition.  His menace, disdain, and disbelief play perfectly to me. 

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