Susanna Westby is the central protagonist to the story, originally Susanna Villiers who marries Eyre Westby and later marries William Camwell. I must admit, I really loved writing her. Her life, her story line, how she reacts to situations, all came naturally to me. Readers have told me they can really relate to her character. The character of Susanna has grown from beginning of the story set in 1787/88, when she is aged twenty-eight, having lived a sheltered life, unfamiliar with estate life and its management, to being forty-five years in part II of the story set in 1805 to a more assertive and confident woman. In the final part of the story, set in 1826/1827, her character is much older, aged sixty-eight, wise and strong, decisive, but not bitter with life although, still, her internal struggles are visible along with her weakness, namely, trusting people too readily.
I like to think she is a very fair character but not without flaw. I personally do not like a flawless character, as in reality, each of us has a dark side. It creeps out depending on how we choose to deal with crises and situations we find ourselves in. Susanna has had her fair share of crises and she has had to handle them each differently depending on whether it only affected her, her family or estate. She is a likeable and beautiful character, and I do believe people admire her, both men and women. She respects others and treats her servants and estate hands justly. This can be seen in her treatment of Mary O’Mara, the head house keeper of Castlefort House, and with Kitty Walsh, the head house keeper of Point Pleasant House. She rewards them both for the dedicated service and devotion to her and her family.
Susanna Westby is an elegant woman who maintains calm and composure externally to reflect appropriate behaviour for her social standing. Only on one occasion does she lose her outward composure, and this occurs in part I of the story, when following the death of her mother, she physically fights with Katherine Villiers over Katherine’s destruction of her mother’s beloved print room.
One of Susanna’s biggest fears in life is not being able to control future outcomes. She may at times come across as a person wanting to control and I am sure the term “control freak” was not invented in the late 18th, early 19th century, but in my opinion, she wants to ensure a stable and financial legacy for her family. Her fear of the future is great, and she fears of what will happen to Point Pleasant Estate once she is gone. However as history shows us, what most of the landed classes have is but their name on the land, or an association with an old ruin. Eventually, Susanna Westby’s dream vanishes and disappears like it did for most other Anglo Irish families but she was never around to see it happen and for that she can be grateful.
One could also question her changeable feelings towards her sons. Each is different, but I do believe she struggles with her love for her eldest son Stuart the most, probably out of worry because he has been blinded by his aunt, Katherine Villiers. Stuart can differentiate between truth and lies, leading him to rebel against his mother when he can. In the second part of the story, hostility exists between Susanna and her son. However in the final part of the story, Stuart finally understands his mother’s love for him. She loves Point Pleasant, but her love for her son overshadows the estate as she signed it over to him, even though she knew he could end up destroying it. She even takes to leaving her home at Point Pleasant House so not to witness it happening. Furthermore, in the final part of the story, when Susanna discovers the atrocities Stuart has committed against her brother, she serves her own justice on him, dishing out what she believes to be strict but fair. I believe her love is very strong for her sons, and she shows it differently concerning each of them.
To summarise, I see Susanna Westby as a confident, independent, just, strict and extremely strong character. Having dealt with an emotional rollercoaster throughout story, she still manages to maintain her calm and elegance.
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