Buchanan, Ross, Brooks


Seducer of Souls– Buchanan says “Accordingly we stayed, and were never in better quarters, little thinking of the bait the seducer of souls was laying for us.”  It is not entirely clear whether he is speaking of Satan, Mrs. Spooner, or both. This conflation of Mrs. Spooner and Satan, although negative, puts her in a position of power previously unseen in women in these narratives.  It implies that she is cunning.  In most of these narratives, the women are weak and easily drawn astray by men while Mrs. Spooner draws men astray.  The word “seducer” in one sense implies that she is playing the role of a man, but it also has connotations of Eve and the use of feminine sexuality.  Although the role of the female seducer is new to this medium, it is present in various periods of history.  The Salem Witch Trials had already taken place when this narrative was written, a historical event at least partially based on a fear of seduction/corruption by women.  This relegation of women to a role of either weakness or evil shows up again in early movies, where women were generally cast as either a well-meaning but useless protagonist or a sexy femme fatale.



Unwilling– As Buchanan tells it, he was rather unwilling kill Mr. Spooner, especially at first and at the time of the actual crime.  The narrative leaves his reasons for staying in the house of Mrs. Spooner once he finds out her motives up to the reader’s imagination.  He finds out almost immediately that she has plotted to poison her husband, and yet he sets up residence there.  Perhaps he is willing all along and lies about his qualms.  It does not seem reasonable that a man who had previously never entertained thoughts of murder, but rather hung out drinking all the time, would murder a man for good lodging, drinks, and money.  If he was indeed unwilling, then it supports Mrs. Spooner having a power over him which is never expressly addressed.  As I talked about above, there is an implied sexuality.  This constant uwillingness is a testament to the power of sexuality (much like White’s rash crime of passion in Bloody Register.)


Intrigue– This narrative has an air of intrigue that previous narratives did not.  Other narratives laid everything on the line immediately.  The criminals in question plot their own crimes and list them or describe them.  Here, the both reader and Buchanan don’t know what is going on immediately so the reader is sucked into the plot more effectively than in narratives that read like lists.  The reader knows that all the action and details are leading up to some kind of exciting finale.

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