What would be a good character description of Vera?

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Vera is the most interesting character in "The Open Window." Without her, the story would not have happened. Framton Nuttel might have arrived for tea and spent an hour or so with the adult members of the family, boring them with his imaginary ailments, and finally leaving. But Vera creates an uproar. She is intelligent, imaginative, and mischievous. She is also terribly bored in this household where nobody ever talks about anything but shooting birds. She is a fifteen-year-old girl. There is nothing for her to do but sit around and feel bored. She obviously does a lot of reading because there was nothing else for girls her age to do in those times. She could never have made up that story about Framton Nuttel being pursued by a pack of feral dogs if she hadn't read some such actual event in one of her books. We can well imagine what kinds of books she likes to read. She resents being used as a hostess-in-training because she knows she is being prepared for a life such as that of her ding-a-ling Aunt Sappleton. Instead of playing the good junior hostess, Vera plays the hostess from hell with poor Framton. If he were a handsome young man, her reception would have been different. But we can imagine Framton as skinny and nerdy and much too old to interest Vera. 

"Do you know many of the people round here?" asked the niece, when she judged that they had had sufficient silent communion.

Framton is shy, reclusive, and socially awkward. That is why his sister gave him those letters of introduction and insisted on his trying to meet some people in the country where he would be staying.

"I know how it will be," his sister had said when he was preparing to migrate to this rural retreat; "you will bury yourself down there and not speak to a living soul, and your nerves will be worse than ever from moping. I shall just give you letters of introduction to all the people I know there. Some of them, as far as I can remember, were quite nice."

Vera realizes that she is going to have to do most of the talking, so this motivates her to make up a wild story just to entertain herself. She uses material drawn from her personal life in her story. Her aunt leaves the window open for the men and sits waiting for them to return for tea. One of the men always sings, "Bertie, why do you bound?' as he approaches the big house. She is telling the truth except for the part about the three hunters being sucked into a bog three years ago. Maybe she wishes the three hunters would get sucked into a bog. The girl has talents but never gets to use them because girls were stuck at home and could do nothing but wait to get married and become mothers and housekeepers. She seems self-possessed, but inwardly she is seething with frustration and resentment. She doesn't mind taking some of it out on poor Framton.

Vera, in truth, is not much different from a lot of fifteen-year-old girls. They have to be ladylike, but secretly a lot of them would prefer to be witches and ride around on broomsticks howling at the moon. Vera's two stories reveal some of her darker side. She resembles the thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis in Ian McEwan's novel Atonement (2001). Briony is another girl who creates troubles by telling stories. These two girls must represent common types to be found in upper-class English country homes in earlier times.

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