The Good Soldier, leaves within its reader same kind of emotion that is experienced after reading Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge. Both are works of narrative fiction employing the elements of secrets, lies, deceptions and mysteries.
Several aspects of the plot line in ‘The Good Soldier’ are similar to those of two Henry James novels, The Wings of the Dove and The Golden Bowl. Like The Good Soldier, both Henry James novels, The Golden Bowl and The Wings of the Dove involve one person from a poor unmarried couple marrying a third person for their money with the consent of their beloved. Like The Golden Bowl, The Good Soldier is concerned chiefly with the lives and interrelationships of four people; two husband-and-wife couples. In 1910 Ford published a short detective story titled The Great Gadsby Fraud (Saunders) it can be inferred from that that Ford had influence over the writings of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Several parallels can be made between John Dowell, the narrator of The Good Soldier and Nick Carraway, the narrator of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Dowell adores Edward Ashburnham, the titular ‘good soldier’ of the novel; this adoration is on the surface completely unreasonable. Dowell recounts many of the good sides of Edward’s character and many of his acts of kindness. However these good qualities do not appear to be the reason for Dowell’s love for Edward, for Dowell is not shown to be a man that believes in being kind to strangers, but seem more to be recounted for the benefit of the reader. It is as if a jilted lover recounts the cruelties visited upon him by his beloved, but then tries to temper it with praise because he cannot stand to have anyone hate his beloved. Large parts of the novel are composed of extended apologies for Edward. Dowell interprets many of Edward’s mistakes as ill conceived actions arising from good intentions. At most times he is just as ready to explain away Edward’s crime against his own self i.e. Edward’s affair with Florence, as the results of Edward’s uncontrollable passions blaming it more upon Edward’s wife Leonora, who is characterized as a cold and possessive woman who drives the warm and loving Edward into the arms of other women, and his own wife Florence, who is portrayed as a ‘woman of easy virtue’. Dowell says of Edward, “It is impossible of me to think of Edward Ashburnham as anything but straight, upright, and honoura….
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