Dowell's gradual realization, however, is trumped by the fact that the idea of "good people" seems to lose its very definition as the novel progresses. The Good Soldier is not entirely without merit in light of the novel’s tragic tale of Edward Ashburnham, a British officer whose reputation as a good soldier is able to withstand scrutiny far better than his reputation for being a good husband in a perfect marriage. No one in The Good Soldier is really who he seems to be, or who Dowell thinks him to be. Florence supposedly poisons herself in a possibly painful manner, and Edward supposedly cuts his own throat, but as always in this novel, we only have Dowell's word for it, and he epitomises the "unreliable narrator." falling action After Edward kills himself with a small pen-knife, Leonora remarries a man named Rodney Bayham, has a child, and proceeds to have a very 'normal' life. Ultimately, as the novel's first-person narration shows, personal perception is all one can ever have. The house is rented out when Edward and Leonora Ashburnham live in India. The perfect English country gentleman he had known as Edward Ashburnham was really a man with a weakness for vulnerable young women—in fact, for nearly any woman but Leonora. Of the two, it is the passionate type that is dangerous, because such an affair leads to impracticality and instability. Because it challenges traditional social customs and literary forms, The Good Soldier is considered by most of Ford's readers to be his best work, a novel which trailblazed a revolution of literary form.
He then receives separate notes from both Edward and Leonora, asking him to come to visit them. While the other characters are flawed he has never participated in life and is revealed as less than the foolish innocent he represents himself as when he walks away leaving Edward to slit his throat with a very small pen knife. With Robin Ellis, Vickery Turner, Jeremy Brett, Susan Fleetwood. A romantic tragedy about two turn-of-the-century couples - one American, one British - who regularly vacation together at a spa in Germany. Confused, Dowell wonders, "and if everything is so nebulous about a matter so elementary as the morals of sex, what is there to guide us in the more subtle morality of all other personal contacts, associations, and activities? The novel opens with the famous line: "This is the saddest story I have ever heard." As an unreliable narrator the reader can consider whether they believe Dowell and his description of how the events unfolded including his own role in the "saddest story ever told". A question to consider is whether he presented himself in a true light or manipulated his description of events to prevent the reader from discovering his true character. Edward, tearing himself apart because he does not want to spoil Nancy's innocence, arranges to have her sent to India to live with her father, even though this frightens her terribly.
It was a period in which traditional authority was challenged from every side. As a pioneer of modernist innovation, Ford Madox Ford challenged traditional social structures, moral codes, and literary forms with The Good Soldier, a novel he considered to be his "best book of a pre-war period." Ford's novel describes Dowell's struggle to make sense of a world that is disordered and morally chaotic.
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