Castle of the Plucked Eye and Heart

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The Castle of the Plucked Eye and Heart is the home of a dangerous being, most probably some sort of fairy, possibly a female.

John Childermass first sees the castle when he quite deliberately rides into a fairy road whilst escorting his master back to Hurtfew Abbey in preparation for the coming conflict with Jonathan Strange. He enters the road to test whether these former gateways to Faerie are once more open: they are. Riding a little way in he sees a wood of thorn trees, a stone statue of gruesome character and a high tower beyond a brook. The tower is defended by a pale young man in the uniform of a British officer. He proclaims himself to be the Champion of the castle and its inhabitant, whom he refers to as the Lady of the Castle. The young man has never seen her but is nonetheless dedicated to killing any man who may approach with the intention of insulting or harming her. Behind him a number of corpses hang from the thorn trees. Some are fresh but some are in a state of decay, indicating they have been there many years.

Childermass evades the challenge* and returns safely to report what he has seen. Gilbert Norrell greatly approves his action:"There is always more magic in such a place than appears at first sight. Some fairies delight in combat and death. I do not know why."[63] Henry Lascelles however is scornful of what he is pleased to call cowardice. He later enters the same road, deliberately seeks out the Champion and slays him. He then feels compelled to take his place[64].

  • Childermass does this by reminding the challenger that he has not yet offered any offence, and is in any case a servant bound in duty to return to his master. Under most versions of the duelling code both would be acceptable excuses. Properly speaking, duellists fight only their physical equals - which is why Mr. Norrell is safe from being called out by Henry Purfois and William Hadley-Bright[50] and partly perhaps why Jonathan Strange does not in the end challenge Drawlight after the latter's disgraceful abuse of his name in his mercenary schemes[37]. Gentlemen also generally only notice affronts committed by other gentlemen, which is why Lascelles feels it would be so very lowering for him to fight Childermass: "If this person were of a rank to be noticed by me, I should certainly call him out. He knows it. His inferior condition protects him."[63] One is forced to observe however that this so-called 'code of honour' did not work as it should in the case of Mr. Pantler, a scholarly man unused to practise arms. Faced with a challenge from the husband of a lady whom he had offended Pantler was obliged to offer a demeaning submission[35]. But there, when there is a lady in the case matters are bound to be different.