Charles Dickens created some of the most memorable characters in English Literature. This extract, from a monologue I wrote, “Nell and The Old Woman”, is about Nell Trent, the doomed heroine of “The Old Curiosity Shop”. The book deserves a careful reading because it offers many perspectives on human character; how people are made to suffer through no fault of their own. The monologue is part of my interpretation of a curious scene that takes place in a graveyard with an old woman Nell meets as she stops to rest whilst travelling with her grandfather. The reading of the piece went down well with people and there was much intrigue by the idea behind the premise.
Nell : Adumbrate. He wrote the word, then scratched it out with his quill as he wrote another in its place. He is unaware of me as of now. He understands human nature and that sadness and guilt in life are unescapable. They determine a person’s actions. The darkness of man’s soul he opposes. I am the white soul in which the story will unfold. Is it the sound of the sea that I hear? The gentle waters lapping over rocks; a voice seems to be cajoling me to listen. Her voice is gentle, somnambulistic. I am oblivious to all thought. My last remembrance is of grandfather eating a Peasgood nonesuch apple. I had never seen him so overjoyed. He was still haggard, his face pinched, and commented on how succulent the apple was. If I remember this incident, it is because the apple was sour. I had already eaten one. I know I tried to think of another word. I could not. The beauty of the countryside I could not see because I was wretched. Those people I knew have faded into obscurity. I remember so little. It is because I suffered and others did not understand. An older generation are cynical; a child never sees this, for they believe there can be no wrongdoing. There are far better commentators on the human condition than I. The story of my existence is known because people read what seems only minutes ago to me. No caricatures were drawn when they uttered so many untruths. I only wished never to be remembered because there were others who were less fortuitous than I. You have queries of where I am now? I will tell you, reader. I am asleep in my mother’s womb. As she becomes more afraid, I sense light and darkness, the time to sleep and the need to open my eyes, so I will begin to envisage the world into which I am to be born. It is the light of which I am most wary of, for then it will be a time for me to remember. Here, there is no world and no heinous doubts of others that intrude on my thoughts. This is the darkness of human nature. A child should never witness such torment. Innocence is always born out of its time. There are visages that try to catch my attention from the crepuscular twilight. I am terrified of one whose leering eyes revealed depravity. He cared only for himself, indulging in terrible vices. His hands were cold; his breath smelled of foul tobacco. The staleness of his breath smells like his insides are corrupted. I know not his name at this early stage. There are others who watch over me, nameless, but I do not feel in peril of their presence when they try to converse with me. My virtues are extolled by these good people. I am then shaken because my memory fragments and I see an old man, weeping in a corner of a bedroom, as he begs my forgiveness. There is little motion from the girl who lies on the bed. Others stand, heads bowed. I remember there is no pain on the child’s face. She never awakened and I am probably this young girl who now sleeps in her mother’s womb. To be certain I will see these gentle people when I awaken. All the girl would see would be the darkness, no more anguish, as she awaited the scene of rebirth. Kit is grief-stricken. . .
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