Better the Devil You Know

I was honestly a little disappointed with the ending of Lolly Willowes. I was reading with the expectation of some great awakening in Laura that would free her from the life she has been forced to live. I thought she was going to be independent, but instead she is merely passed on to another man.

Throughout the novel, Laura is handed from her father, to her brother, then she is briefly alone (but still seeks out a man in the form of Mr. Saunders). When Titus comes to Great Mop, she is once again under the authority of a man. Satan provides her escape from Titus, but still he owns her, she is not independent.

Laura seems to consider belonging to Satan to be a better option; she even seems to think she is free. The choice to become a witch seems to be not a choice at all, but rather something that happens to Laura. She has been chosen by Satan, not the other way around.  Laura’s relationship with Satan reminds me of a captive with Stockholm syndrome and the captor who completely controls his victim. As Naomi mentioned, Satan tells Laura “you are in my power. No servant of mine can feel remorse, or doubt, or surprise…you will never escape me, for you can never wish to” (210). This quote suggests that Laura has no agency and that she can no longer feel anything. She will be happy as a witch because she has no other option.

Satan, in this sense, seems to represent just another member of the patriarchy. A man who takes Laura under his authority. I suppose for a woman like Laura in a society like London in the 1920s there are no options. If she has to be under someone’s control might as well be the devil.

Advertisements