Many ideas popped into my head while observing the way Woolf describes her characters in “Kew Gardens.” I could find several different directions to go with what she was trying to convey but not one over another – it still has me thinking which was, I’m certain, her intent all along.
Very little of the story is dialogue. There is minimal contact between the characters but rather between the characters and their own personal thoughts and feelings. One such “conversation” that I found intriguing is the one on page 162 between Eleanor and Simon. Simon is just walking along and suddenly asks his wife whether or not she minds that he is fantasizing about the chick he had a crush on. Who does that? Or furthermore, who lets their husband say something like that and not jump all over him?
I have two theories on what Woolf is doing here. First, that Simon and Eleanor are in fact the perfect couple. They are completely open and honest about every conceivable thing they have ever done and easily forgive the other for their past. This relationship is also open in that even though they have children together they are so open and confident in their relationship that they have no problem with the other daydreaming of members of the opposite sex. My second theory is that neither Simon nor Eleanor is happy with the marriage. Perhaps they got married too soon before realizing how much they did not like each other or perhaps it was something expected by their families. For whatever reason they are unhappy yet making stabbing remarks at each other in the form of polite conversation for the sake of the children.
I find the second of the two theories to be the most probable but I tend towards sarcasm and underhandedness. This presents two sides of Woolf’s view on marriage. Did she mean to favor one or the other or did she purposely create this duality of relationships to express her mixed feelings towards marriage?