Critical Evaluation

(Masterpieces of British Fiction)

JUDITH PARIS picks up the story of the Herries family where it left off in ROGUE HERRIES, the preceding volume of the Herries chronicle. Therefore, as a chronicle, the action of this second novel moves forward as the reader would expect; Hugh Walpole’s style, however, while remaining the same in many ways, differs significantly from the preceding novel. It is an interesting discovery that the stylistic changes in JUDITH PARIS, when compared with ROGUE HERRIES, appear as weaknesses; yet, ironically, they emerge as strengths in the context of this second novel.

JUDITH PARIS, like ROGUE HERRIES, is the story of one character. Judith enters the world at the moment of her parents’ death; however, she serves to combine and to perpetuate their strong characteristics. Judith, therefore, inherits aggressiveness and the need to dominate others from her father; fidelity and inexorable honesty from her mother. These prime forces in Judith’s personality make her a dynamic character, although she lacks the vitality and appeal of her father, the protagonist in ROGUE HERRIES. The major weakness in Walpole’s characterization of Judith is not only the lack of a “double” to clarify the protagonist’s character but the fact that there is none of the psychological introspection that figures so strongly in the “rogue’s” personality. In the preceding novel, Francis Herries’ idiosyncracies were, at once, the subject and the results of his search for self-realization and self-fulfillment. Judith’s personality, however, is resolved from the beginning. She inherits a combination of strong characteristics from both her parents with an added touch of practicality developed from her exposure to David Herries. Her personality remains consistent throughout the novel. She does not question her motives; she merely recognizes the qualities of her character and acts according to them.

Although not as intense as in ROGUE HERRIES, an inner struggle does take place in JUDITH PARIS. Judith’s actions are characterized by firm self-control, and she allows herself few indulgences but recognizes temptations as they arise. This is not to say that she does not relish life in all of its facets; like...

(The entire section is 931 words.)