That Hideous Strength – Chapter Two – Section Three


The following morning Jane and Mark communicate poorly as Mark leaves with Lord Feverstone to go see Mr Withers at the NICE for a few days. He offers to stay if Jane needs him. She declines. Feverstone arrives to pick up Mark and mistakenly thinks the maid – Mrs Maggs – is Mark’s wife. Jane thinks little of Feverstone and seemingly little more of Mark. She leaves the house and decides to visit Miss Ironwood.


Ah, more marital bliss. Jane wants – or at least thinks she wants – Mark to treat her like a modern woman, very independent and self sufficient, not needing a man but merely choosing to have a man in her life. A wife in need, in true need, of her husband is “what she most detested” (44). The thought of that need and vulnerability has made her very angry. Yet she communicates none of this to Mark – at least not in a way he can understand. How often this applies to the human condition – this desire to be seen as strong and invulnerable. Consider Adam and Eve, our first parents, and how their relationship was upended with sin. The first thing they did was to cover themselves with homemade clothes. They hid from each other – both physically and emotionally. And we have been doing that ever since. This has been called “social alienation” (recently by my own pastor though I think he mentioned having picked it up in reading somewhere). Further, this applies to both sexes, not just women. Men are probably worse.

Mark is obviously aware there is some problem, but hasn’t a clue what it is, nor can he be bothered to find out. He merely wants some type of permission to go away to the NICE for the weekend. He asks if Jane would like him to stay. But he knows the type of woman she is and the type of answer he will get. If she asked him to stay, would he? Probably so, but – if I know men – he would be a nuisance all weekend and hold it over her head. But if he thought she would admit to wanting him to stay, he probably wouldn’t ask in the first place.

Jane sees through Feverstone straightaway. We could call this women’s intuition if we wanted to, but lets also consider Jane’s dreams. She sees things that others do not see. She has a second vision. Why she sees through Feverstone is not revealed and probably not important. What I want to note is that she sees Feverstone for what he is and sees Bracton as “a horrible college” (46) and yet she would never tell Mark this, even in a subtle feminine kind of way. These are two people living in close proximity. They are not two people living as one. Jane is so guarded as to not be a true wife and Mark is really not into being a husband either. He likes her guarded and cares not to break that down and truly know her. He has abdicated his role as her husband and so she has let go her role as wife. Things aren’t going well for the young Studdocks.


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