After finally finishing St. Leon, I find myself interested in Bethlem Gabor in how he is a foil to Reginald. Though Bethlem Gabor is slightly older than Reginald’s mental age, they have experienced a similar event: losing their wives and children.The parallel between the deaths of their wives is fascinating because of who they assign blame to. Reginald, as he mentions several times over, feels responsible for Marguerite’s death and often refers to the feeling that he is her murderer. Reginald also attributes to his closeness to her as a reason for her death. In short, Reginald blames himself. Bethlem Gabor is the opposite of Reginald in this regard. The murder of his wife happens when he is away and unable to defend her. While Reginald would have instantly had great man-pain and agonized about his absence, Bethlem Gabor turns his hatred and the noose of blame to humanity: “‘My revenge is not causeless; this was not the act of individuals. All men, in the place of these murderers, would have done as they did. They are in a league together'” (Godwin 398). Unlike Reginald, Bethlem Gabor blames humanity for the death of his wife and children and thus wants revenge.
This difference is not surprising as Bethlem Gabor’s family was murdered while Reginald lost his family due to his own actions. Marguerite falls ill after Reginald’s lies have chased Charles, their only son, off. Charles leaves because he cannot trust his father anymore and does not want to become like his father. Reginald loses his daughters because he purposefully sets them up in his old home and abandons them. Reginald was the author of their loss while Bethlem Gabor had his family ripped away from him, in turn causing Reginald to strive to find the good in humanity and for Bethlem Gabor to find none.
I find it fascinating that the loss of their families caused such different opinions about humanity in Reginald and Bethlem Gabor. In a way, Reginald is attempting to rise above his sorrow and detachment to save people that he can with his wealth. He is never perfect, but he does try to help others. In contrast, I see Bethlem Gabor as descending into madness and villainy. He wants to punish humanity as a whole for his family’s murder. Reginald and Bethlem Gabor want opposite goals for humanity. Personally, because of these parallels, I see Bethlem Gabor as what Reginald could have become: a man severely changed by grief and loss, birthing a blood-lust for the punishment of humanity.
(Word count: 425)