Saturday, May 22, 2010

By Love Bewitched

Dinah has been Jason Devrel's ward since she became an orphan at nine years old. Once she finished college they ended up getting engaged but one night she overhears two women speculating on Jason's reasons for marrying her; the women believe that the only reason a rich, attractive man like Jason would marry the quiet and plain Dinah is to avoid gossip about their guardian/ward relationship. At this point I started to actively dislike Dinah. She is incredibly immature. She just goes ahead and believes what she has heard and decides to run away with a broken heart without even confronting Jason. The whole thing doesn't even make sense. If he's worried about his reputation, he could always marry someone else, or encourage Dinah to get a job and move out. Anyway, Jason finds Dinah madly packing her bags to leave and they get into an argument concluding with Jason raping her. Yes, he rapes her. This is no "forced seduction" but straight out violent rape. It was at this point that I started to actively dislike Jason. Not surprisingly, in the morning Dinah runs away. Two months later, Jason manages to track her down only to discover that she is pregnant. He persuades her to marry him and give the baby to him, after which he will give her a divorce with a healthy settlement.

This book was incredibly disturbing. Jason himself says that he has tried to be a father to Dinah, and he is constantly calling her "child" or "my girl". In fact he addresses her using those terms right before he rapes her. Dinah is naturally quite traumatised by this; bad enough to be raped, but to have it done by the man who raised her whom she loved and trusted is obviously much worse. Also, keeping in mind that this book was written in a time when girls who had illegitimate children were ostracised and you can see Dinah's turmoil and the reason why she agrees to marry Jason. Both of them are quite frank that he raped her, though Jason tries to imply at one point that he suspects she enjoyed some of it. This just made me sick. It's common for child abusers to claim the complicity of their victims. Dinah is not a child, but she is about 17 years younger than Jason and obviously sees him as an authority figure. Jason concedes that Dinah has every reason to hate him now and claims to accept it, yet he then goes on to reprimand her for her bitterness and lack of joie de vie. Gee, you think being raped and impregnated by your father figure then forced to marry and live with him might just spoil your mood? As for Dinah, she gets all caught up in "dealing" with now having to see Jason as her husband instead of her father. I found this quite odd considering they were actually planning on getting married before he raped her anyway. Surely she would already have worked through those conflicts? Apparently not. Generally speaking, I found Dinah's responses reasonable, even her conflicted emotions regarding Jason. She is simultaneously attracted to and revolted by him. She feels used and dirty and wants to feel attractive, but he's the only man around. I actually found her quite realistic, but then before you know it she's happily jumping into bed with him and declaring her love. That's about when I wanted to throw up. This relationship was sick. Don't bother reading this unless you want an interesting psychological study.

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