A Story of a Wedding-Tour by Margaret Oliphant was published in the collection A Widow’s Tale and Other Stories, in 1898. Janey marries Mr Rosendale because he’s “in love” with her however she soon learns that, his love is not what she imagined. An accident provides her with an opportunity to change her life and she decides to take a big leap. Themes of independence, responsibility, need for love and control are explored in this story.
A Story of a Wedding-Tour | Summary
Janey is an orphan and she’s been raised by the Midhursts. She’s not loved by them; they only treat her with kindness because they feel obligated to look after her. She’s sent abroad to study and learn music, they enhance her skills in the hopes that she’ll be able to secure a job as a governess someday. She has a very small personal income and Mr Midhursts takes care of her assets for her. She’s basically poor.
After she returns back to England, a wealthy man Mr Rosendale announces that he’s “in love” with her and wishes to marry her. Her guardians are shocked at this news but glad that she’ll be able to escape the life of a governess. Janey feels no love for Mr Rosendale but gladly agrees to marry him because she’s thrilled at the idea that someone loves her. However, soon she realizes that his love isn’t what she imagined; he only loves her for her beauty and does not care not for what she wishes. She’s upset with her marriage.
After a week of their marriage they go on a trip to France, there Rosendale misses his train at one station and Janey is left alone. She’s afraid that he might blame her but excited as she sees this as an opportunity to escape her husband. After a few hours of being alone, she does some serious thinking about what she wants for her future. She finds that she has one hundred pounds in her possession and decides to leave him. She gets aboard a train and seeks to go far away from Rosendale. On the train she sees a mother with a baby, their smiling faces make her happy, and she thinks having a child must be nice; a child will surely love you. She sees a small picturesque town, St Honorat and decides to get off there; it’s also where the woman with the baby gets off too. She decides to live there.
Ten years go by and in that time she gives birth to a son. Rosendale lives a life full of indulgence and becomes bitter. One time while on the train to Italy he sees Janey at the station of St Honorat with a child. He screams to get off the train and his valet is worried to see him in that rage. He gets a fit and his condition gets unpleasant. Janey also sees him and runs away, she’s afraid that he’ll take her son away from her. She asks the priest to keep her son, John safe while she prepares herself to face Rosendale. She roams all around the town thinking about ways to save herself and John. Then something compels her to go back to the station, there she sees a few people carrying a man who is in an awful condition. She screams to see that it’s Rosendale; she helps others to get him treatment, and she lets everyone know that it’s her husband. However, he dies the next morning. Janey is terribly upset to witness that but she manages to ensure that proper arrangements are made to organize the matters. She feels guilty for the first time, thinking she murdered her husband.
A Story of a Wedding Tour | Analysis
This story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator; the narrator is talking as if she’s part of the story herself thus adding a personal touch. Mr Rosendale does not really love Janey, for him being “in love” means being in love with her beauty. For him, she’s like an object or pet that he admires when he wishes but other times doesn’t have any consideration towards her. Her wishes and her ideas are not important to him; as long as he is pleased it’s alright. Janey has no strong feelings towards him, she only married him to feel loved but soon her ideas were disenchanted. The love she expected was not there, she was unhappy with her marriage and regretted it. Rosendale controlled Janey’s whole life and before him, her guardians did that, nobody ever cared for what she wanted and that’s why Janey was desperate for independence. Thus, she decides to take her fate into her hands and live her life alone.
The setting of this story is the late 19th century and at that time the society was male-dominated, women had few liberties and mostly their lives were controlled by their caretakers or husbands. They had no opportunity to do as they wanted, instead had to follow everything they were told to do. Janey represents the unhappy oppressed women of that time who were only valued for their beauty and skills and not treated as a human with feelings.
Rosendale lives a life full of indulgence and selfishness; he ends up having a horrible fit and dies. This reflects how selfishness and living fully on desire can have awful consequences. When Janey changes her dress at the hotel, it symbolizes how she’s about to change her life forever. The woman and baby Janey sees on the train foreshadow her having a baby shortly.
When Janey witnesses the awful condition Rosendale is in she feels responsible for his condition. For the first time, she feels guilty for leaving him. Even if she never loved him and even if he never treated her well she still considered him her husband after all those years. She instantly tries to help him and makes everyone know that he’s her husband. She was afraid that her son will be taken away from her but at that moment when Rosendale was dying, she forgets all her concerns and accepts him as her husband and John as his heir. She’s independent and confident in her life, she doesn’t have to be afraid of anybody and thus does not run away from Rosendale again. She shows sympathy for him and tries to make things right. After Rosendale’s death, she takes up the responsibility and decides to organize things and what needs to be done.
A Story of a Wedding Tour | Themes
Janey is a shy and timid girl but when she decides to leave she shows courage. She knows she’ll be punished if she’s found out yet she takes the risk. She knows nobody in the foreign country and she only has one hundred pounds but she still steps into the unknown with excitement. She finally takes control of her own life. When she’s in at St Honorat she manages to make a living on her own without being dependent on her husband, she works and takes care of her little boy all by herself. The author uses this to emphasize that women can be independent too. It’s not a shameful thing to break away from society’s stereotypical norms. Like Janey, women can be free and live a happy life on their own. Janey is not only independent from her husband but also living independently in a male-dominated society, that too in a foreign country. This extraordinary achievement is inspiring and it shows that women are not weak without men.
Need for love
The Midhursts only help Janey because they feel obligated, they don’t love her. Janey never receives any love or affection from anyone all her life and she’s treated as an outsider by her guardians. Thus, when Rosendale offers to marry her she believes someone is finally going to give her importance and treat her well. She’s disillusioned within only one week of their marriage, it was not as she expected. Feeling neglected again and afraid that all her life she’ll remain dominated by her husband she flees. She believes having a child must mean that you’ll receive love for sure and after having her son she manages to live her life happily.
A Story of a Wedding Tour | Character Sketch
Character of Janey
Janey is a shy girl but shows a lot of bravery in her decision to live an independent life. Despite being all alone Janey doesn’t seek another man’s companionship, she remains faithful to her marriage vows. She doesn’t lie about her life to the people of the town, she remains honest with everyone. Even if people don’t believe her story they still don’t disrespect her, they trust her because she has a confident and sincere disposition. We also see that she isn’t dependent on anyone when she’s in that town, after leaving her husband she truly becomes independent. In the end, she shows sympathy for Rosendale, she doesn’t love him and he’s a threat to her and her son, still, she tries to save his life. She’s a loving mother and a hard-working woman who tried to raise her son on her own.
A Story of a Wedding Tour | About the Author
Margaret Oliphant (1828 –1897) was a Scottish novelist, biographer and historical writer. Her works include domestic realism and she’s popular for portraits of small-town life. From 1849 to her death, Oliphant wrote more than 120 works, including novels, books of travel and description, histories, and volumes of literary criticism. Her best-known works include “Passages in the Life of Mrs Margaret Maitland” and “Chronicles of Carlingford”.