Leo In The Mercury Tension

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Trimingham calls Leo ‘Mercury’. How is this significant? The rising heat plays an immense role in this book, with the Mercury in the thermometer being an indicator of the changes in heat. I believe that one of the main reasons Hartley makes the connection between Leo being ‘Mercury’ and the mercury in the thermometer is to show that he is an indicator of the rising tension at Brandham Hall. The reader can understand and identify the tension between the different characters at Brandham Hall whilst Leo is innocent and naive and does not understand what is happening. This leads him to become stuck in the middle of the boiling pot at Brandham Hall and act as the reference point for all three conflicting parties. L.P. Hartley places Leo in the…show more content…
He also places Leo in situations where the reader will understand the conveyed sexual tension such as Ted naming one of his horses ‘Wild Oats.’ Whilst Leo understands this very innocently, the reader understands the more sexual connotations of the phrase and how this ties in to Ted’s relation with Marian and similarly hers with Trimingham. The tension, however, between Marian, Ted and Trimingham relates to more than just Leo’s understanding and the feelings between them. Hartley has created a traditional love triangle of literature which is often associated with dark themes such as murder and divorce. This creates an underlying sense of apprehension for the reader as there is the possibility of a much darker outcome of the triangle than portrayed by Leo. The heat is also used to show Leo’s deep affection for Marian. During one of the hotter days of his stay, Leo proclaims that he ‘was in love with the heat.’ This could also have reference to his love for Marian. For the first part of his stay at Brandham Hall Leo ‘dreads’ the heat and is in utter despair when it keeps rising but Marian buys him cool clothes which not only abolish his hatred of the heat but also greatly increase his affection for Marian. This sparks a turning point in his relationship with the heat as it allows…show more content…
Although this is Trimingham’s reason for calling Leo Mercury, L.P. Hartley has made this connection to show much more. At the very beginning of the book the reader is told that to Leo the zodiac is ‘an ascending spiral towards infinity.’ Leo’s deep affection of the Zodiac is brought into play here as he is brought into the band of god-like adults that he so greatly aspires to. This, like so many of L.P. Hartley’s other techniques, draws attention to Leo’s innocence and naivety which is one of the biggest themes of the whole book and has a direct correspondence with him being called Mercury. Leo says himself that he ‘could not identify himself with the Lion’. Despite the fact that Leo puts this down to ‘wanting to be a man not an animal,’ in general life the idea of a lion is one associated with great masculinity and sexual prowess. Leo dismissal of associating himself with the lion could be related to the fact that his is an ignorant twelve year old who, possibly subconsciously, does not want identified with something symbolising masculinity and sexual prowess; they are traits he is uncomfortable and unsure
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