Descent Into Hell, Chapters 5-7
These are really crucial chapters in the novel, as we begin to understand the principal characters. Most of them--with two significant exceptions--are locked into their own obsessive resentments, their failure to care for anyone but themselves. The dead man has found a sort of peace, or rather an anti-peace, in being set free from want, not just material want but from the need to put up with his wife, his workmates, his foremen, and his family.
He seems to echo the promise that Mrs. Sammile makes to Pauline: "Then come and dream, till you discover so soon the ripeness of your dreams....You'll never have to do anything for others any more."
Pauline is terrified to see herself, but she does not know why she is frightened. She is not an especially bad young lady, but she is imprisoned in herself, and only under Stanhope's prodding does she realize how her childhood sin--of spending her mother's lost shilling on candy--is symptomatic of her entire life.
Wentworth, too, goes from bad to worse. From his petty jealousy over Adela and Hugh to the dream of bliss offered by a creature who is part succubus, part Lilith, or both at the same time.
The exceptions are of course Mrs. Anstruther, the descendant of the martyr whose death plays so important a part, and the poet Stanhope, who enunciates for Pauline Williams' philosophy of "Substituted Love."
This having been said, what do you think, first, of Williams' frequent references to "The Republic", and second, of Stanhope's philosophy?