To continue then, with Sophie; I always see her as being, like Lucie Manette in ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ the embodiment of loving kindness. Unlike Lucie Manette, though, she is a female character whom the author wanted to show developing in independence as the story goes on.
She starts off submissive (as becomes a true Regency heroine) foolishly romantic, beguiled and in awe of her rich relative Émile Dubois, for so long her hero for his determined attempts to save his parents in France.
In true Gothic style, Émile on marrying Sophie takes her off to live with him in an isolated mansion staffed by brigands (in his case, fellow villains from his highwayman days, his fellow highwayman cum valet Georges and their jolly accomplice Mr Kit, plus his redoubtable wife Dolly).
In fact, Plas Planyddwyn is a comparatively modern house and situated just outside the village. I am unable to find a picture of a white plastered house, but perhaps it looked something like this. Monsieur thought it rather cramped, while Sophie finds it perfect.
Sophie found the house Emile rented near Llandyrnog perfect – but he thought it very small.
This is something like my image of Dubois Court, Emile’s own house (then rented out) in North Buckinghamshire…
Even then he is changing, though mostly he is his old, good natured if rascally self, and no doubt he can’t see how convenient it will be for him should he decide that the threat from the Kenrick’s is such that she must live as a virtual prisoner in the house.
As he starts to change, and the threat from the Kenrick household increases, he decides that it really is not safe for Sophie to leave the grounds without being accompanied by himself, or Georges, or Mr Kit…
The sensible thing would be for her to join him. It would not only serve his bloodlust, it would protect her from the Kenrick threat.
Here, to his outrage, he runs up against stubborn resistance.
Sophie has been brought up, like all girls of that era, to believe that a wife should be obedient (at once stage, Émile points out cynically that she has after all, sworn to obey him during the marriage service).
However, Émile forgets that her favourite reading has been Samuel Richardson’s ‘Pamela’ and ‘Clarissa’. In these, the virtuous heroine is compliant towards the dominant male in all things but in the matter of spiritual integrity.
And this is the ideology that gives Sophie the strength to oppose Émile determinedly. She wont’ become a Semi Vampire like him because it would be tantamount to despairing of God’s mercy, and a serious sin…
Besides, she has the support of Agnes, as determined a girl as anyone could meet, who sees Émile’s transformation to a monster as clearly as it is obscured from his own understanding.
Émile has an unexpected fight on his hands…