Leaven of Malice by Robertson Davies. Two Parallel Dialogues: Two Complex Personalities (Parents relationship to their children)

Essay by OuzziHigh School, 11th gradeA+, May 2004

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In his tale Leaven of Malice, Robertson Davies intentionally portrays many scenes as parallels. By doing so, certain points and arguments are highlighted boldly throughout the story. One such parallel occurs between the respective conversations of the Vambrace's and the Bridetower's. The engagement scandal incites heated discussions within the two households, as both Solly and Pearl would rather avoid all the negative attention brought on by their parents. The striking resemblance of the dialogues serves to emphasize a key point concerning parents in the story; the parental figures in Leaven of Malice are so enamored with their own self love that they act irrationally and eventually regrettably towards their children.

Repeatedly throughout the conversations, both Professor Vambrace and Mrs. Bridgetower attempt to force their own opinions upon their children. When Pearl announces to her father that she is going to the Yarrow's party, he is astonished that his daughter would socialize the night after the newspaper tragedy.

"Are you utterly out of your mind? Your name has been publicly linked with that one man in Salterton, above all others, whom you should avoid" (344). Because Professor Vambrace is so offended by the day's events, he expects his daughter to react and feel as embarrassed as he. However, Pearl does not suffer the same effects, and has no problems with going out in public. "Why not? It isn't my fault really." She refuses, as the Professor says, "to be guided by [him] in this manner" (344).

Mrs. Bridgetower, in the same respect, attempts to define her son's opinions for him. While describing the engagement notice as a blow to the familial name she says, "It has been publicly announced that you are engaged to Pearl Vambrace. You are nothing of the kind" (384). Mrs. Bridgetower focuses on the slander forced...