Maggie Vardoe displays independence of spirit, generosity, and good common sense in everything she undertakes, except in her decision to marry Edward Vardoe. Her sensitivity to nature is revealed in the opening paragraph when she follows the flight of birds toward the mountains in the distance. In all of her activities, she approaches perfection: Her fishing flies are flawless her plan to leave her husband is perfectly executed, and all of her work at the fishing lodge is almost godlike. Yet her life has been flawed by the deaths of her first husband, their child, her father, and her second marriage. She displays remarkable self-control and presence of mind whether in leaving her husband, in confronting an antagonistic Vera Gunnarsen, or in saving Mr. Cunningham: “Her pleasures were very few, and were not communicable and she had long formed the habit of seeking and finding, where she could private enjoyment of the sort that costs nothing but an extension of the imagination.” Hilda Severance remarks that Maggie is calm and placid; she is associated with a divine state of being—“[I]t takes God Himself to be fair to two different people at once”—and she is described as a “god floating” in the water. Nell Severance writes her about the “third dimension that includes perception and awareness of other people”—a third dimension that portrays the development of both women. Nell also writes that “no one can write about perfect love because it cannot be committed to words even by those who know about it.” The omniscient narrator, perfect Maggie, and narratively omnipotent but physically crippled Nell know about love, language, and their limitations.
Nell possesses a more forceful will than Maggie and inflicts it...
(The entire section is 711 words.)