nightanddayessay - 1 Katherine Hilberry the heroine of...

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Katherine Hilberry, the heroine of Night and Day , is a young woman constrained by the roles of femininity in the society in which she lives. She resides in London, a city run in a patriarchal fashion, and tussles to accept an identity that has been molded for her. A lot of Katherine’s struggles stem from her family, whose claim of high-class stature can be traced to her grandfather, a famous poet in his day. Her family expects Katherine to abide by certain rules in social settings that lead Katherine to ignore her true self in order to fit the image of a proper lady. Katherine finds ways to escape her socially constructed identity by creating alternate worlds in which she can escape that include mathematics or her imagination. Both are worlds that give space to Katherine’s confined existence. Katherine spends the majority of her time in the confines of her home. Her London residence is decorated in “relics” (15), much like one of a “religious temple” (15) built for her grandfather, the famous English poet, Richard Alardyce. Katherine is submersed in the accomplishments of the past generations and is surrounded by those whose primary motivation is the worshipping of its work. Katherine’s mother, Mrs. Hillbery, does not see importance in the present age all together. She constantly rants about the value of what has come before them: “ what is the present? Half of it's the past, and the better half, too (177online). It seems Katherine’s entire worth as a person is measured through her relationship with a literary phenom. Her everyday activities revolve around preserving and honoring her grandfather’s accomplishments: Katherine is either stuck entertaining visitors by “pouring tea” (9), giving tours of their home, or writing a biography in tribute of her grandfather’s life. With visitors, Katherine is not herself: rather her identity becomes 1
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Alardyce’s granddaughter showing that “the past had displaced the present” altogether (1043). The mundane role that Katherine has been assigned by her family has little fulfillment and is arduous to maintain. In truth, she has diminutive interest in literature all together making a life dedicated to its preservation a tough act. In order to fit into the character of Alardyce’s granddaughter, Katherine hides her true self beneath her scripted “low pleasant voice” (317). This reveals the pressure Katherine feels to act a certain way, speak in a certain manner, and appear to have interest in topics she does not. Katherine converses with visitors not on a personal level, but rather as if she is reading a script. “She knew what she had to say by heart”(15) and repeats the facts of her grandfather’s life repetitively. As a result, much of the time Katherine is physically present, but her mind is focused elsewhere.
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  • Fall '06
  • zemgulys
  • Strain, Katherine, Katherine Hilberry

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