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The Black Prince

Iris Murdoch

Part Two of Bradley Pearson's Story, 1

Part One of Bradley Pearson's Story, 5

Part Two of Bradley Pearson's Story, 2

From the beginning of part to through Julian's invitation to dinner

Summary

After the Hamlet tutorial, Bradley decides that he is totally in love with Julian. The next morning, he lies on his carpet trying to smell her presence from the day before and dreaming of her. He comments that love is a form of truth, that gives a sense of the eternal in the same way that religion and art do. In order to maintain this truth within him, Bradley vows to keep his love for Julian secret. In its secrecy, the love will remain pure and true, thereby always warming his soul with the light of truth.

Bradley accepts a lunch proposal from his friend, Hartbourne. As he is walking out the door, he meets Rachel. She wants to talk and retrieve Julian's copy of Hamlet, which Julian forgot. Bradley wants to keep this precious copy for himself, so he makes an excuse about needing it. He insists that Rachel accompany him on some errands. They first stop in a stationary store, but after Rachel insists on talking, they head to a pub. Rachel tells Bradley that she does not want him to think that she throws herself at men. Furthermore, she would like to remain his close special friend and encourage the loving relationship between them. Bradley fully agrees, but is not listening to her because he is thinking about Julian. Rachel notices that he is distracted. When he gets up to leave for his lunch date with Hartbourne, Rachel stays behind in the pub.

Bradley and Hartbourne have a happy lunch during which they gossip about Bradley's old job. On the way home, Bradley stops at a bookstore and orders the collected volumes of Arnold's books, because in his cheer he decides to give them another try. When Bradley gets home, Roger, Priscilla's husband, is there. He has brought Priscilla's jewels and clothing. He asks Bradley to inform Priscilla that he wants a divorce. Bradley lies and says that he told Priscilla about Roger's affair. Marigold is also there. She looks pregnant, and Bradley treats them both so kindly that they think he is either drunk or nutty.

Bradley goes to Christian's to bring Priscilla her jewels. Priscilla looks old, but is calm. She is not pleased about the jewelry because she has decided to return to Roger. Bradley bluntly informs her that Roger wants a divorce. Priscilla goes into hysterics. Francis appears to counsel her and Christian and Bradley retire to another room. Bradley's happiness even has made him friendly towards Christian. She is delighted that his coldness has melted. She tells him that she would like to try and rekindle their love. Bradley is not really listening to her, but agrees to talk it over later. As Christian leans over to kiss him, Arnold walks into the room. He does not look happy to see Bradley and Christian so close. Bradley greets Arnold cheerfully saying he is planning to reread all of Arnold's books. Bradley then heads home, giving Francis Marloe five pounds on the way.

The next morning, Bradley still feels happy, but is trying to figure out what to do about his overwhelming love. Both Christian and Arnold call and want to speak privately with him. He agrees to go to Christian's later that night and talk to them both. After they call, Bradley goes out and buys a series of small presents for Julian. Later that afternoon, Julian herself calls, asking if she can come by sometime to pick up her copy of Hamlet. Bradley says yes. Then he spontaneously asks if she is free for dinner.

Bradley takes Julian to dinner at the restaurant in the Post Office Tower. Julian eats a lot, but Bradley eats very little, as he is nervous. Bradley thinks frequently about his desire to kiss Julian during the dinner, but does nothing. As they are saying good-bye, Julian asks Bradley to come with her to see the opera Der Rosenkavalier at Covent Garden because her new boyfriend bought two tickets but he cannot come. Bradley agrees and leaves feeling elated.

Analysis

Part Two opens with a several page soliloquy on the nature of love. The narrator remarks that Eros, desirous love, has touched Bradley and it overcomes him so much that he begins lying on the carpet, almost immobilized. Bradley decides that this love is a good thing, a pure gift full of truth that will be able to inspire him towards his artistic creation. His belief in the purity of the emotion also makes him decide to never taint its quality by mentioning it to Julian.

Bradley's strong feelings about love's connection to art again allow Murdoch to elaborate the connection between art and truth, as brought on by the experience of Eros, or erotic love. Murdoch's philosophy follows the ideas of Plato. Plato believed that the world of everyday life represented a world of superficial appearances, but that beyond this world existed an ideal one in which objects could be found in their true form. Murdoch believes that through love, as through religion, we have a rare chance to glimpse the true, eternal world that Plato describes. Furthermore, the contact with Eros will later give inspiration to create art, as it does for Bradley.

Bradley's sudden love makes him appear changed to all of the other characters, but in many ways, this change is superficial. Because Bradley suddenly starts buying people presents, lending money, and speaking kindly, everyone assumes that he is changed. However, while his actions indicate a new man, his thoughts reveal him to still be the self-interested soul that he long has been. Bradley's responses to Christian's and Rachel's desires for his love are particularly cold. As the older women are pouring out their hearts, he basically ignores them and thinks only of Julian, a woman with a much younger body. His mistreatment of Priscilla, as he bluntly informs her of Roger's affair, demonstrates his lack of consideration. Bradley's sudden kindness towards Roger, furthermore, might reflect his changing emotions towards sexual relationship between couples of unequal ages. While the idea previously angered him, now he is an interested party in the promotion of the concept.

By the close of the section, it becomes apparent that Bradley is going to have quite a difficult time keeping his love for Julian a secret. Even though he resolved to do so, he is quickly finding that he wants to be with Julian. Instead of just speaking with her on the phone, he has to invite her to dinner. At dinner, Bradley acts as a complete voyeur, since he cannot eat. As he watches her, he focuses upon her firm body and eating habits. He also repeatedly contemplates kissing her, an urge that would break his vow to never mention his love. After only just one day, Bradley's desire for "pure love" has already turned slowly towards lustful thoughts. As a result, it seems highly unlikely that he will be able to keep his emotion a secret for very much longer.

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