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  1. Latest News
  2. Esther Waters by George Moore
  3. Esther Waters Characters | GradeSaver
  4. Esther Waters
  5. Esther Waters (1948) - Kathleen Ryan, Dirk Bogarde, Cyril Cusack - Feature (Drama)

The woman implies that Esther, and her baby, would be better off if the baby quietly died. Instead of consenting to this outrageous suggestion, or pretending that she has not understood, Esther confronts the woman. She just manages to flee, clutching her baby, only to almost suffer another melodramatic fate: being run over by a horse and carriage.

When Fred Parsons Cyril Cusack , a part-time preacher who has taken a shine to her proposes, she immediately tells him that she has a son. Esther is also honest in front of others. Choosing to marry William is therefore not masochistic self-sacrifice, since her son could have Fred as a father.

We also commented a little on the matte r of class in relation to the actor playing Esther — Kathleen Ryan. We noted that this was also the case in other British films from the time. While some thought William an irredeemable cad, scoundrel and bounder, others were more sympathetic.

His back story explains that the family was previously important in the county and gives him this reason to better himself. This assertion, made to Esther on the hillside, is immediately undercut, however. We hear thunderclaps and a storm commences — predicting that in fact William will not enjoy good fortune. They enjoy spending time together, and he only pursues another woman once Esther regrets their intimacy and avoids him. William is absent for a fair proportion of the narrative, reappearing 6 years later. Despite the length of time that has passed it is clear that William has fond memories of his time at Woodview.

The back room of the pub he runs, and invites Esther to visit after they are unexpectedly reunited, is full of photographs of him with fellow staff from Woodview. He has also employed one of their former colleagues. He seems genuinely to wish to make amends to Esther, soon proposing and proving to be a good husband and father. He is also demonstrably an honest bookmaker — even getting into a fight with his assistant when William insists they pay customers the money they are owed.

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If William were the heroine, it is likely that we would view such a relationship between socially unequal participants as exploitative. It also fits in with the sensitivity of Bogarde — both as described off screen his star image — as mentioned in his first fan magazine article considered to be different from the character he plays — though as I have noted there is sensitivity there and progressively onscreen. We can link this to the sexual ambiguity scholars have said that Bogarde embodies. It is difficult to know how much this may be related to the fact Dirk Bogarde is the male star — whether it was tailored to fit him as an introduction, or if this would have happened regardless.

Such rhythm is important to melodrama, the lows of slow-moving action contrasting to the highs of unexpected, and at times, unbelievable, action. In the film, activity is especially notable during the scenes of the ball, the bustling crowds attending the races, and especially the derby day scenes. These aspects were especially singled out by reviewers to be of interest to the audience. Trade paper Variety especially commented on these as well as the death bed scene 6 th October , p. While during the setting of the film, the s, cinema was not yet invented, its many predecessors such as magic lanterns were popular.

The derby scenes also connect more specifically to melodrama. Esther bumps into Fred who expresses pleasure, though surprise, that William married Esther. The style, simple and natural, brought her world to life and allowed her story to shine. He was eager to secure a position on the estate, to be near that stables, the horses, the gambling that were at the centre of life there. And he took a shine to Esther. There was always a buzz in the air on race days, especially race days, especially when a horse from the estate was running, especially when that horse won.

And there were consequences. Esther, knowing that she had sinned, pushed William away. Not long after that, Esther realised that she was expecting his child. She new that she would have to leave her job, she knew life would be a struggle, and it was, but when her son was born she drew strength from her new role, and bringing him up well became the focus of her life. The only path open to her after the birth, the only thing that would keep her out of the workhouse, was to pay a baby farmer to care for her child and become a wet-nurse.


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Esther was in a horrible situation, and I felt for her and admired the maturity she found to cope. If you had made sacrifice of yourself in the beginning and nursed your own child such thoughts would not have come to you. But when you hire a poor girl such as me to give the milk that belongs to another to your child, you think nothing of the poor deserted one. He is but a bastard, you say, and had better be dead and done with. I see it all now; I have been thinking it out. It is all so hidden up that the meaning is not clear at first, but what it comes to is this, that fine folks like you pays the money, and Mrs.

Spires and her like gets rid of the poor little things.

Esther Waters by George Moore

She would do her best for her son but she would never compromise her principles. That would cause difficulties as she had to work and care for her child, and there were times when she fell very low, but there were also times when good people did their best to help her. And she might have had more, but she was cautious and would not let others now what her circumstances were.

It was when she was doing well, when she was on the point of marrying a good man she met through the Plymouth Brethren, that the father of her child came back into her life. Esther was horribly torn, but she knew that the right thing to do was to marry William, to be a good wife and mother.

Esther Waters Characters | GradeSaver

She was, and she stood by her husband always. Because it was the right thing to do, and because she loved him. He loved her too, and there were some touching moments as the story of their marriage played out. Most of all though she loved their son, and she achieved what she set out to do.

She raised her son well and she was so proud when he became a soldier …. The story of how Esther reached that point was wonderful. It was focused on the reasons for the choices she made, and it did that so very well and with such understanding, but there were gaps. The stories of the conception, of the birth, of stays in the workhouse, of the wedding ….. That is what will stay with me. Nov 28, Lilian Nattel rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: people interested in the fin de siecle, history of the novel, strong heroines. This is a fabulous and neglected book written in the 's.

A strong heroine, fascinating portrayal of working class life in London and the culture of betting on horses.

Esther Waters

Esther Waters is a young single mom, making her way despite the odds. Wonderfully evocative. Much better than other well known fin de siecle books that have soppy heroines. I think of this as the Victorian anti-romance.


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There is a little romance present, but overlaying everything, the driving force, is the struggle to survive--and it truly is an epic battle, at least for our protagonist, Esther. She literally spends a great deal of her life not knowing if she's going to have a roof over her head or food for the next day.

In today's world of multiple government-assistance programs, it's an eye-opening glimpse into a different existence. But she's a fighter, our Esth I think of this as the Victorian anti-romance. But she's a fighter, our Esther. She refuses to give up, she refuses to take the easy way out.

She powers on, making whatever sacrifices she needs to make to ensure her son's survival and comfort. As I write this on Mother's Day, she is the poster child for the loving, selfless mother who gives up everything for the welfare of her child. This book is also a morality lesson on the evils of gambling. In both dialogue and action, the message is clear: gambling is evil and results in destruction of both families and individuals.

Esther Waters (1948) - Kathleen Ryan, Dirk Bogarde, Cyril Cusack - Feature (Drama)

It also helps you understand how some people get sucked into it, especially those who can least afford it. As foolish as it seems for these poverty-stricken people to be betting their meager amounts on the speed of a particular horse, these few coins that are all that stand between them and destitution, you can see why they do it. They are driven by desperation, and this is literally the only chance they will have to get the money they so desperately need. They have nothing to pawn, they can't get a payday loan, and they can't get a cash advance on their credit card. Losing will worsen their situation, but it's bad to begin with, so.

Spoiler alert--it doesn't end well. No one walks away with their winnings to live a life of idle luxury. Recommended for anyone interested into a glimpse into the hardships of life in Victorian England--you know, the lives of people who aren't measuring their days in calling cards and clothing changes, drives in the park and invitations to balls and assemblies. View 2 comments. Nov 12, Kmkoppy rated it really liked it Shelves: classics. After reading so many books and seeing so many TV series on how the wealthy lived during the late 's, it was refreshing to read a book about how the rest of the English society fared during this time.


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Quite a contrast! And to be a woman in those times was the worst, especially young unmarried mothers. They were not only looked down upon by the men, but by the women of their own class as well as upper class women. I never realized what a big part gambling on horse racing played during this ti After reading so many books and seeing so many TV series on how the wealthy lived during the late 's, it was refreshing to read a book about how the rest of the English society fared during this time.

I never realized what a big part gambling on horse racing played during this time period. I think the author did an excellent job of defining the difficulties faced by the poor and how they were forced to engage in activities against their ideals just to survive.

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The only thing I disliked about this book was to what extent the author went in describing horse racing. Other than that, it was well written and I'm glad I read it.

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Mar 12, Laura rated it liked it Recommends it for: Kim, Jeannette. Shelves: victorians , audio-books , fictionth-century , e-books , irish-literature , read , gutenberg. Stirring tale of how a servant girl makes her way in Victorian England. Dramatised by Sharon Oakes.