Emma’s POV:

It was about this time, around the beginning of winter that is, that the idea formed in my head of being seized with a great musical fervour.

One evening when Charles was listening to me, I began the same piece four times over, each time pretending much vexation, while he, not noticing any difference, cried–

“Bravo! Very good. You are wrong to stop. Go on!”

“Oh, no; it is execrable! My fingers are quite rusty.”

The next day he begged me to play him something again.

“Very well; to please you!”

This time Charles confessed I had gone off a little. I played wrong notes and blundered.

“Ah! it is no use. I ought to take some lessons; but–” I bit my lips and added, “Twenty francs a lesson, that’s too dear!”

“Yes, so it is–rather,” said Charles, giggling stupidly. “But it seems to me that one might be able to do it for less; for there are artists of no reputation, and who are often better than the celebrities.”

“Find them!” I challenged.

The next day when Charles came home he looked at me shyly, and at last ventured.

“How obstinate you are sometimes! I went to Barfucheres today. Well, Madame Liegard assured me that her three young ladies who are at La Misericorde have lessons at fifty sous apiece, and that from an excellent mistress!”

I shrugged my shoulders and did not open the piano again. But when I passed by it, if Charles were there, I sighed–

“Ah! my poor piano!”

And when anyone came to visit, I made sure to inform them I had given up music. This won me commiseration.

“What a pity! you had so much talent!”

They even spoke to Charles about it. They put him to shame, especially the chemist, who suggested my musical talents would be of use in educating our child and he would this save money.

All of this made Charles bring up once more the question of the piano. I replied bitterly that it would be better to sell it, but Charles was reluctant to see it go.

“If you liked,” he said, “a lesson from time to time; that wouldn’t after all be very ruinous.”

Seeing my opportunity, I told him that lessons are only of use when followed up.

And thus it was I obtained my husband’s permission to go to town once a week to see my lover. At the end of a month I was even considered to have made considerable progress.

420 words

Charles POV:

It was about this time, that is to say, the beginning of winter, that Emma was seized with great musical fervour.

One evening when I was listening to her, she began the same piece four times over. Despite her obvious vexation, I was captivated.

“Bravo! Very good. You are wrong to stop. Go on!”

“Oh, no; it is execrable! My fingers are quite rusty.”

The next day I begged her to play again.

“Very well; to please you!”

This time it seemed to me she had gone off a little. She played wrong notes and blundered; then interrupted the piece.

“Ah! it is no use. I ought to take some lessons; but–” She bit her lips and added, “Twenty francs a lesson, that’s too dear!”

“Yes, so it is–rather,” I agreed. “But it seems to me that one might be able to do it for less; for there are artists of no reputation, and who are often better than the celebrities.”

“Find them!” she said.

The next day I couldn’t wait to tell her what I had heard in town.

“How obstinate you are sometimes! I went to Barfucheres today. Well, Madame Liegard assured me that her three young ladies who are at La Misericorde have lessons at fifty sous apiece, and that from an excellent mistress!”

She shrugged her shoulders and did not open her piano again. But every time she passed by it she seemed desolate. And when anyone came to see her, she did not fail to inform them she had given up music. Then people spoke to me about it. They endeavoured to put me to shame, especially the chemist. And it was his words that struck me.

“You are wrong. One should never let any of the faculties of nature lie fallow. Besides, just think, my good friend, that by inducing madame to study; you are economising on the subsequent musical education of your child.”

He rambled on in a similar vein for a while and on thinking over his words, I decided to broach the subject with Emma again. However, she replied with some bitterness that it would be better to sell it. This seemed to me like the indefinable suicide of a part of herself, it had meant so much to her. I came up with an idea.

“If you liked,” I said, “a lesson from time to time, that wouldn’t after all be very ruinous.”

“But lessons,” she replied, “are only of use when followed up.”

And so it was agreed that once a week, she would go to town for a music lesson. At the end of a month she was considered by all to have made considerable progress.

450 words

Anne Skelly

 

Instructor Response

Excellent work. You’ve grasped the concept for the exercise very well. As you reflect on what you’ve done, consider and explore again how different points of view affect so much–humor (mostly in irony), impact, scene purpose regarding characterization, author purpose in presenting scene. You might also consider the different effects of writing with different points of view. For example, would one point of view be more successful if this scene was a short story? Short stories are almost always strengthened by staying in the point of view of the protagonist, who has some enlightenment or change in thinking about the world and others. Whereas in a novel, a scene often acts differently than in shorter works, and point of view provides more expository opportunities, more intense conflict possibilities (especially in dialogue), and fits into plot progression in different ways so the POV choice can have maximum effect.

All this encourages you to write with purpose in your story; always consider your characters and their contributions as distinct entities; and rather than thinking of POV usage as written-in-stone rules, think of story narration–who is narrating for best effect and is the POV right.

Note how the phrase “Find them.” has very different meaning in the change of POV. (For me, this phrase tells the most about Emma when in Charles’ POV.)

Also, the effect you created with “But lessons,” she replied, “are only of use when followed up.” in the two POVs. Look again at how special the phrase is in Charles’s POV, a perfect example of the effect a POV can have, I think, on dramatic irony in a prose scene.

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