Nine Coaches Waiting - Themes and Symbols

What are the symbols and themes in Mary Stuart's novel, Nine Coaches Waiting?

Nine Coaches Waiting 9 Coaches

Themes and Genre

The theme of love is so closely related to the genre of Gothic Romance that it is inseparable from it.

All romances have love. But in the case of Raoul, is it really love or just a whirlwind girlish crush? And is he capable of loving any woman?

Goodness and justice are part of most mysteries. You want the mystery to be solved and the problem fixed. In this case, we all vote for the innocent to be protected.

Specific Themes in Nine Coaches Waiting

Adventure

Linda is ready to take on life.

She shows her adventurous spirit at the end of the first chapter as she urges the taxicab driver to "hurry" (to her destiny.)

Raoul got the Cadillace by taking-chances, and she is willing to take a bet on him. That is part of what makes them attractive to each other. (Good looks play a role here too, no doubt.) Second to the last sentence: "I'll take a chance on it," I said. And those were the last words I spoke for a very long time.

Specifically, Linda prefers the romantic Raoul to the trusty William.

French and English

As any description of this story explains, Linda's initial problem is she is half-French (and that is her preferred half) but her employer wants an English woman. Besides the obvious question of why her nationality matters (Raoul brings it up when they first meet) the topic weaves itself in and out of the narrative.

Although her name is Linda Martin (how British can you get?) she identifies as French from her earlier upbringing.

Throughout the story much French - and a little Latin - is thrown in. Good for those who can read French.

She prefers the French Raoul to the English William. (William Blake - there's another English name for you.)

About the only thing she seems to like best about the English is their tea.

Belonging

Belonging is a deep human need expressed by Linda as she contemplates her place in the household. Stationed between servants and family; part French and part English; an orphan from a good family - she longs to belong but does not make that her goal. Nonetheless, she falls utterly for the first man who takes her on a date.

Symbols in Nine Coaches Waiting

Coach

The most obvious symbol is the coach which represents transportation from one place to another, but also transformation to the next phase of her life-drama.

The coach symbol comes from the Revenger's Tragedy. The coach is the symbol of wealth pursued. And Raoul's Cadillac is the modern equivalent of the old-fashioned coach.

Zig Zag

The zig zag road leading to and from the Chateau signifies its danger. It is a complex, twisted family that is approached by a complex and twisted road. Getting to or from the Chateau involved steep climbs, narrow bridges, sudden turns, and a foggy mist.

In fact, several near-accidents occur on this precarious road.

Tiger

The Tiger represents danger, and it contrasts with the Lamb. Both are creatures in William Blake's poetry which are quoted in the book. William is the lamb but the Valmys are tigers - dangerous and unpredictable.

"The Tiger breeds true" is a statement frequently made - particularly about Leon and Raoul. It is similar to the more modern statement, "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree."

The name Leon means lion. She refers to his velvet paws and the cat-and-mouse game he plays with her.

Vocabulary

A few vocabulary words may help American readers:

Nine Coaches Waiting

Get the low-down, deep-dive, in-the-know analysis of Mary Stuart's Gothic novel.

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Map of the area
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Find the meaning of all her references.


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