The Role of Sir Edmund Orme
In Henry James' story, Sir Edmund Orme, the ghost played a mysterious role. It first appeared that he was haunting Mrs. Marden, but in the end, it seemed like he was not trying to hurt anyone at all. It almost seemed like he was trying to help Mrs. Marden and her daughter Charlotte find happiness in their lives. The ghost of Sir Edmund Orme might not have been around to hurt Mrs. Marden like she thought he was.
As the story started, the man who wrote the letter first saw the ghost of Sir Edmund in church. Mrs. Marden went on to describe him as a man whose life she had destroyed by leaving him for another man. She also said that he came back to make her life miserable by never leaving her daughter's side. The opinion Mrs. Marden has of Mr. Orme is shown when she says, "Ã¢â‚¬Â¦those dreadful years while he was punishing me in my daughter."(423). The narrator also says from Mrs. Marden's point of view that, "This wretched mother was to pay, in suffering, for what suffering she had inflicted, and as the disposition to trifle with an honest man's just expectations might crop up againÃ¢â‚¬Â¦"(424). Mrs. Marden and the narrator seem to be the only ones who can see the ghost that haunts Charlotte. From here on you get the impression that the ghost is evil and is trying to destroy Mrs. Marden's life by never leaving her daughters side. As the story continues, this impression changes.
As the story goes on, Sir Edmund Orme continues to appear around Charlotte. The thought that he is there to hurt Charlotte makes the narrator hostile towards the ghost. When he sees the ghost on the balcony, the narrator said he felt, "Ã¢â‚¬Â¦my horror passing into angerÃ¢â‚¬Â¦The case was simplified to the vision of an adorable girl menaced and terrified."(427). This shows that the narrator is protective of Charlotte and wants to shield her from the ghost. Then this man who wants to marry Charlotte has second thoughts about the ghost. He starts to think that Sir Edmund is not an evil presence. This is shown when the narrator states that "He struck me as strangeÃ¢â‚¬Â¦but somehow always struck me as right. I very soon came to attach an idea of beauty to his unrecognized presenceÃ¢â‚¬Â¦"(424). This shows that the narrator sees the ghost of Sir Edmund Orme in a new and more peaceful light. It seems like the ghost might have been there to help Charlotte instead of hurting her or her mother. It is possible Sir Edmund Orme's role in the story might have not been to get revenge on Mrs. Marden, but instead to try and help Charlotte by helping her find the right man so she could have a happy life.
When Mrs. Marden died, the ghost disappeared, so it is hard to tell exactly what his role is. Since Mrs. Marden died, Sir Edmund Orme's job, according to Mrs. Marden, of making her life miserable would have been complete, so he would have no reason to be around after she had died. On the other hand, as Mrs. Marden dies, Charlotte decides to marry the man that would give her a good life. So if this is Sir Orme's purpose, it would have been done successfully, completing his mission. So it is hard to tell which of the two jobs he was trying to accomplish.
Sir Edmund Orme might have been misunderstood. The evidence that supports his status as a good man greatly outweighs the evidence that his purpose was to hurt Mrs. Marden. The only evidence that is shown to support Mrs. Marden's theory is her own beliefs. On the other hand, the way Sir Edmund never hurts anyone, the way he always appears in a sophisticated manner, and almost seeming like a father figure makes Orme seem more like a good person than an evil monster.