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The Black Prince

Iris Murdoch

Part Two of Bradley Pearson's Story, 3

Part Two of Bradley Pearson's Story, 2

Part Three of Bradley Pearson's Story, 1

From after the opera to the end of Part Two

Summary

After leaving Julian, Bradley finds that his love inspires both a feeling of bliss and a sense of physical pain. She visits him early the next morning. She has been up all night thinking about what he said. She has determined that she too is deeply in love with him. She compares their relationship to that of Emma and Mr. Knightley. Bradley warns her that other people will disapprove of their relationship, so she should tell no one. They lie on the carpet together and kiss occasionally, before she goes home.

Julian does not follow Bradley's instructions and immediately tells her parents about her love. Soon after, Arnold and Rachel come to Bradley's. When Bradley will not renounce his love, they grow angry. Rachel argues that Julian is just a confused child who does not even know what she feels. Arnold threatens to take Julian away and get the law involved. Still, Bradley refuses to concede that he is doing anything wrong by loving Julian. Rachel and Arnold are angry when they get up to leave. Arnold pauses for a moment before going, and asks Bradley to return the letter he wrote about Christian. Bradley tells Arnold that he has already destroyed it. Arnold looks suspicious, then leaves.

After Rachel and Arnold go, Bradley takes a cab to their house. Since they have returned before he arrives, he is unable to see Julian. He stands on the street for a long time wondering what to do. Finally Arnold comes out. Arnold apologizes for being angry earlier and suggests that they will all be able to resolve the situation. He tells Bradley that Julian has come to her senses and admitted that she just felt flattered by Bradley's love and felt pity for him. Now she realizes that she is not in love with him. Arnold and Julian are going to take a trip to Venice so that Julian can forget everything. Arnold asks Bradley to promise to leave them alone. Bradley refuses to do so. Arnold again asks if Bradley truly destroys the letter about Christian and Bradley says that he did.

When Bradley gets home, he finds a message from Francis Marloe asking him to call on Priscilla. Bradley does not call or visit Priscilla. Instead, he lies miserably in his house wondering if Rachel and Arnold locked Julian up. He sits awake for much of the night. The next morning, Julian calls him collect from a pay phone. He picks her up in a taxi. Her parents had locked her in, but she tricked her mother and escaped from her room that morning. Julian can scarcely believe her parents' anger over the affair. Her father broke small items in her room, while her mother wept and wept. Bradley realizes that they cannot go to his house because her parents will soon arrive. He decides that they should go to the cabin that he rented, which is in a location that no one knows. He leaves Julian with some money to buy herself new clothes for the trip.

Bradley goes to get some belongings and finds his front door unlocked. Priscilla is inside. She has had electroshock therapy and appears confused. She is very talkative and mild, but does not understand what is going on. Bradley is trying to tell her that he is leaving, but she insists on some tea. Francis arrives. Bradley begs him to stay with Priscilla and gives him money to take care of her. Bradley rushes out of his house with a suitcase. Outside, he sees Christian and Arnold getting out a taxi. Christian sees him but Arnold does not. Christian blocks the path so that Arnold cannot see him. Bradley jumps into their taxi and heads back to Julian.

Analysis

Throughout The Black Prince characters see other literary characters as representative of their own situations. Julian compares her realization of love to that of Emma in Jane Austen's Emma. Emma, who is twenty- one, spends much of the book looking for love before suddenly realizing that she has long been in love with Mr. Knightley, a close family friend who is sixteen years her senior. While Julian's love appears to be sincere, we may doubt its truth. Even Julian's tendency to compare their relationship to one in a novel suggests dreaminess on her part, while simultaneously suggesting her romantic belief that she and Bradley will marry and live happily ever after, as did Emma and Knightley. More obviously, Julian demonstrates her limited grasp on reality by not understanding that her parents would object to the relationship. Furthermore, she feels astonished by their anger and dismay. Julian has convinced herself that she is thoroughly enraptured by a pure love for Bradley, but her failure to appreciate the complex circumstances of their relationship suggests once again her naïve nature.

Rachel and Arnold's articulations their opinions Julian's behavior underscore the lack of reliability in the narrative, since we must question whether Bradley's account actually honest. Their explanations are important because they are partially true. Because they are true, they demonstrate the way that Bradley may be acting inappropriately. Additionally, by condemning his behavior, Arnold and Rachel help to guide the reader towards a similar condemnation. Bradley's seduction of Julian is crucial in his relationship with Arnold. The tension between Arnold and Bradley, as well as the tension between their artistic perspectives, is the main conflict in the novel. By taking Julian from Arnold, Bradley is demonstrating his ability to gain power over Arnold, of whom, despite his assertions that he is not, he is slightly jealous. Furthermore, his refusal to return Arnold's letter about Christian also shows the way that Bradley is preparing himself for a full battle with Arnold. The interaction between Arnold, Bradley, and Rachel is almost comic because although they all angry with one another, they maintain a polite veneer of friendship. As Arnold stands on the street telling Bradley that he is taking Julian to Venice, Arnold mentions that Rachel sends Bradley her regards. While their language towards one another remains friendly, their hostile attitudes towards one another have heightened the tension between Arnold and Bradley.

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