Character as Flowers is a new section I’m doing for fun, where I take a character from my novel(s) and explain which flower best suits them. For When the Clock Broke, I may have the advantage, in that flowers is one of the themes of the novel. For the time-being, I intend to post on Fridays, but that may well change. Thanks go to Jae at Lit and Scribbles who brought up the suggestion.
“Her hair grew in its inflorescence in the fresh light; her beauty had just passed blooming.” ([from memory] early draft of chapter one.)
Aidelle is visually the most memorable of the characters, with long, earthy curls that frame her face. I wanted a flower to reflect this ‘inflorescence’, even when the above quote no longer stands in the MS. She’s self-conscious about her appearance, notably that nose is crooked and her lips are thin, actually aspects that, in evolutionary psychological terms, would imply she is not healthy and would not have healthy offspring. Of course, it would be silly to believe such things without incorporating more paradigms of science. (Anyway, I’m not trying to make this post a Psychology one!)
Her self-consciousness is likely inflamed by her relationship with Phillip, which has thrown her into the social spotlight amongst the other debutants and higher-classed women who consider themselves more worthy – both in money and beauty – to marry Phillip.
Anyway, this has left Aidelle incredibly volatile, thus this is what I began looking for in a flower. Not a weak flower, no, but a changeable one or a deceptive, soft but sharp one.
“An inflorescence is a group or cluster of flowers arranged on a stem that is composed of a main branch or a complicated arrangement of branches.” (Wikipedia)
Aidelle is complicated – in life, in love, in her temperament. She is the fire to Phillip’s cool. One might argue that she is stroppy. She often goes with her heart, not her head, causing her to make impulsive decisions that lead to tears. This only added to my view that I wanted a flower with deep personality and a set of physical thorns to match.
If you mess with this flower, you get spiked!
Aidelle is an Orchid. If we’re being specific: a rich, dark hued orchid or a crown of thorns one. The flower is sharp to pick up, but beautiful in a non-traditional way.
There are many answers to my working question ‘what is the meaning of the orchid?’. Especially in WTCB, meanings are important to me – linguistically, I find them fascinating; from a spiritual view that everything has a place, I enjoy understanding the way the flowers are seen. Browsing in my research, I was particularly pleased by ProFlowers.com, which said of orchids:
“Orchids are a long-lasting and particularly elegant type of flower. Their graceful appearance draws immediate attention, and their reputation as an exotic and unusual flower evokes a sense of refinement and innocence…Today, the meanings of orchids are generally regarded as symbolic of rare and delicate beauty.”
I could pick many single words out of that paragraph: elegant, rare, refinement, reputation…
Ironically, ProFlowers goes on to say that Orchids have, historically, been used to symbolise the combination of three traits: wealth, love, and beauty. The certain socioeconomic conflicts that arise throughout When the Clock Broke. Phillip’s inner turmoil is to choose between his fiancée or his inheritance; the various love-affairs of the book(s) throw each character out of kilter because of how well love does to alter the psyche; and, as I mentioned earlier, Aidelle’s own personal self-depreciation because of her unusual features.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that Orchids are the second most popular houseplant (until recently, I actually had one in my own living room). This little, seemingly-irrelevant fact comes into wonderful play when one considers that Aidelle visits her marital house for the first time in chapter one and spends the rest of the novel there.
She is a houseplant.