Mrs. Osmond Symbols & Objects

John Banville
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Schadenfreude

While Isabel sits with Miss Janeway, she cannot immediately recall a German word which her husband says all the time. Under Miss Janeway’s scrutinizing eye, Isabel thinks through her current predicament and talks to the old woman of freedom and the subjugation of women. Isabel can tell that Miss Janeway is not very pleased by the young woman showing up and talking about her marital problems. Finally, Isabel recalls the word Schadenfreude, “which meant, as she knew all too well, the taking of pleasure in the misfortune of others” (56), and she feels as if Miss Janeway enjoys listening to her misfortune. There are many characters in the novel who relish in Schadenfreude such as Mr. Osmond who controls his wife, his mistress, and his daughter as well as the Countess Gemini who thinks that her cruel brother’s downfall is amusing. Schadenfreude symbolizes the twisted...

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This section contains 1,101 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Mrs. Osmond Study Guide
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