A Blupete Biography Page

Conclusion, Part 8
Adele Hugo

What can be made of the relationship between Adele and her father? Longley would have Adele to be Victor's favorite daughter; but McLeod reported that Hugo bore his daughter with complete disdain.56 McLeod gives the example of the time that Adele, as obedient children would be quite ready to do, sang for his quests at a dinner party but "her father shouted at her to stop, complaining that her diction was terrible." Adele took these rebukes calmly, but they built up in her an attitude which led her to take her leave of her family and not to return for nine years and on her return her mind had completely broken down. She had every reason to hurry back to her family at a much earlier point and certainly should have the moment her lover spurned her in a strange and foreign land. She choose, it would seem, to continue (as much as she could arrange) to be in the presence of her rebuking ex-lover rather than in the presence of her father the ex-rebuker.

Adele Hugo is a study in psychiatric breakdown: we can only imagine a young woman beautifully turned out, but delicately understated, a refined female with alluring French ways coming through the doors of Halifax's finest hotel, -- and then, and then, -- to see her gradually descend into her private pit of insanity, her progress, as a counterpoint can be observed in her clothing and in her eccentric ways; and as a further counterpoint in the background is the unfolding of the seasons in northern Canada, so well demonstrated in the seashore province of Nova Scotia. A comparison and a contrast can be had as we see this young woman run down into the long winter of her life, as we see spring, summer and fall dress the lands so differently; from delicate spring; to bright summer; to gaudy fall; and, finally, to the dark time of winter where no colours exist, where the lands are dull, grey, and barren, where snow lies all about in various states, from the brilliant fresh and light white on top of the grey trees to the dark and icy snow to be found under the horses hooves, all, in various states of hardness and dirtiness. The background for Adele's descent into madness can be no better than the change of seasons as found in Nova Scotia. We see, during the change of seasons, a female madly in love go from delicate, to bright, to gaudy, and then to the colourless world of insanity.

I like to imagine that this epitome of a 19th century French female, so eloquent, arriving at Halifax on one of those beautiful days in June when Nova Scotia is dressed in her finest soft green and the floors of her damp coniferous woods delicately lit with trillium, sorrel, and violets. We see in the weeks following her arrival, traces of strange turns, and also brighter clothing, though yet in taste; as, in the background, we see the summer fields all arrayed in regimental fashion with groupings of ox-eyed daisies and yellow hawkweeds. Within months we see Adele inappropriately dressed in wild and bright colours as she rushes through the mandatory trips about town, and in the background are deciduous trees lush with brilliant reds and yellows, a brilliant farewell to the world before hunkering down for the winter, hunkering down for a bout with insanity. Then winter comes and we see a colourless woman on a colourless background, a destitute and haggard woman taking no care in her clothing or person. The snow and her linen being contrasted and compared, all about in the background things are cold, stiff and waiting.

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Peter Landry
2011 (2013)

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