Hannah is the unicorn of the title, a rare and mysterious creature who enchants all around her but who is inaccessible to everyone. Both whore and goddess, murderess and saint, she is either a wretched prisoner or a willing recluse. Unknowable and unreachable, she enchants all around her, and in the love that each character feels for her is encompassed the full range of human affection. Since her reality is impossible to know, she becomes the reflection of each character’s fantasy about her. Like the unicorn, she is a test of the purity and innocence of the others in her own guilt and suffering.
In many ways, the lesser figures at Gaze are as mysterious as their mistress. Gerald is sexual magnetism and power, and few escape his appeal. Long associated with the husband figure (Peter never appears except as a corpse), Gerald is also surrogate master at Gaze, and his domination of Jamesie is emblematic of his dark and unconventional control over the house. Jamesie is the elfin page who has been corrupted by Gerald, and his older sister, Violet, is bitter and contemptuous of the household she keeps; she is Gerald’s female counterpart, actualized in her attempted lesbian seduction of Marian. Denis Nolan, having replaced Jamesie as page to Hannah, is a Lawrentian “natural man,” an embodiment of the hard beauty of the local region, as well as a bridge to Riders.
As characters, both Pip and Alice Lejour are less fully developed than those in...
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