How awful Alice Oke is. Though the narrator praises her as a wonderful woman she seems wholly unpleasant to me, and though William Oke is painted as a bore, he seems a thoroughly decent and mistreated man driven to madness by his wife’s caprices.
William is so driven to distraction by his love for this teasing woman that when he begins to imagine he sees Lovelock, and then tries to not to show his reaction, she asks him whether he has seen Lovelock — his ghostly rival
Was the ghost of Lovelock real? Was Alice Oke really the reincarnation of the former Alice Oke? We can read it both ways.
Alice alludes to Lovelock being with her, but I was never sure whether this was just to tease her husband and she didn’t mean literally, even as a spirt, but is essence as an idea.
The issue of Oke thinking there would be no hops that year, when he previously has said it would be a bumper year and hops are there to be seen, is perhaps meant to indicate that he is losing his grip on reality. I cannot see any other reason for this incident to be reported to us. But I may be missing something.
On the walk with the painter, Oke talks about having to save his wife from dishonouring herself “one way or another”. Perhaps the idea of killing her is already in his mind at this point, though I didn’t guess that at the time.
When he shoots her, the gun isn’t mentioned right there and then, but we remember we were clearly told how he had been cleaning and preparing the guns around the house, so that was neatly set up.
Alice Oke appears to have a Mixed Personalty Disorder with Histrionic and Narcissistic traits while William Oke seems to have sunk into a depression with psychotic features. Poor bloke, old William Oke.
The story was originally called The Phantom Lover but Vernon Lee later renamed it, Oke of Oakhurst and I think that William Oke crazed murderer that he became is really the hero.
Our painter/narrator is merely a camera lens though which we see the tragedy.