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Vauxhall Riots

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English I

Ms. Campbell

Edward Tamsberg

Oct. 8, 2002

Notes on Vauxhall

On the last night at Vauxhall there is always a riot. Why? Everyone seems to know it is coming, or am I mistaken? Could it simply be that all law-enforcement and staff of the garden are simply not told and that they have yet to pick up on the fact that there is a destructive, annual tradition? Wait- what am I saying? The police and grounds-keepers are probably all involved in the riot. Why? Why destroy the place you go to have fun for an evening? Why torch the booth in which you ate dinner? Isn’t Vauxhall supposed to be a place of relaxation and enjoyment? Clifford Geertz makes the theory in his work “Deep Play: Notes on a Balinese Cockfight” that certain events and places in our society hold cultural significance. Perhaps it is just a place to let go. Society and life are often the two snakes that choke the life from the everyday man. Where do those with angst and aggression find release in a society that’s morals and ethics bind a man so tightly he can not help but feel strong resentment to it? In Vauxhall. It was a place of pure escapism.

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The rooms in which those of the upper class stayed are probably the structures most often dividing the people of the upper and lower classes. Women of the upper class often went to visit these rooms as it was often not safe to be out among the crowds of people by themselves (surprisingly, it seems that rich, helpless women were consistent favorites with thieves and bandits back in jolly ol’ England as well). These rooms not only gave for these women, but entertainment as well. These were places where they would see their friends and meet women of other households. Often this gave them room and time to discuss matters of their lives that they would not or simply could not while their husbands were present. In the book, Evelina, we find Madame Duval here with the company of some of the older men, though men often preferred to walk with the masses as they were not prone to attack or robbery.

The Dark Walks were a place where prostitution and criminal behavior was the norm. They were easily the most infamous of all the parts of Vauxhall. There was not a Londoner who did not know what the Dark Walks were.

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one toy. Simply put: the object of our survival often becomes the object of our frustration for needing it. The people of London needed Vauxhall and because of that they destroyed it yearly. Vauxhall would then be repaired to serve again as a venue for London, and be there the next year to fulfill the need of society once again.

Vauxhall served as an escape for all those imprisoned by a strong English society where every son seemed to inherit the place of his father and you were lucky to move anywhere in the world. It began as a manor for a mercenary of King John named Fulk le Breant, and was originally called Fulk’s Hall. Slowly, over the years, the name became corrupted into Vauxhall. Perhaps the gardens had had a dark nature about them since before their founding.  The duality of the lighter, more open side of Vauxhall with the other, more infamous areas like the Dark Walks are almost representative of the obvious duality in English society. It was a society that tried to create a world of Lord Orvilles that was inevitably populated by Sir Clement’s and Sir John’s.

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