Fearful Symmetry: Character Notes
Gilda Dent

by Smitty, organized by 'rith





Still trying to come up with a take on Gilda Dent for the Fearful Symmetry 'verse. Fortunately, I have Smitty to explain her to me. ;)

From "Fearful Symmetry" (Bruce): Gilda always smiles at him so sweetly during his frequent dinner visits to the Dents' home, and, according to Harvey, never questions the bruises and...other marks...Bruce leaves on her husband. "She knew what she signed up for," Harvey says, dismissively, each time Bruce raises the question. And then with concern: "You can't be jealous, Bruce, really. All she wants is to take care of the twins, and yeah, we still sleep in the same bed but that's just--that's just *fucking.* It doesn't have anything to do with *us.*"

From "Fearful Symmetry" (Harvey): In the space between college and Bruce's return Harvey had made a tactical decision and married the girl who'd been his passport into a political and social world he never could have entered on his own. Gilda...had understood that, and also understood a more important unspoken reality, though the latter hadn't been an issue until Bruce crashed into him and made the previous *awareness* between them into something tangible. Harvey has never lied to her, nor made a promise he didn't keep. He's been very careful with his promises. ... It isn't fair to either of them, and less so to Gilda. He's acutely aware of that, even as he refuses to apologize for it. How could he be expected to apologize for something inevitable, perhaps fated?

So from that, it's apparent that she knew about Harvey's proclivities before she married him. Which must have been an...interesting conversation. ("I'm a Kinsey 4*, darlin', there're things you can't do for me." :p) As Harvey says, she knew what she signed up for. The fact that she married him anyway speaks of a certain pragmatism. Was she hoping it wouldn't be an issue? Or was he simply the best possibility available?

Her family's got the right connections, but she was probably a little too smart, a little too good-natured (and possibly--judging by the only reference I found to her maiden name of "Gold"--a little too *Jewish*) to fit comfortably into the socialite high society of Gotham. I've got her heavily involved in social causes and volunteer work, particularly with kids. She's been nationally recognized for her efforts. The work fills her days, along with raising the twins. Her nights...are often lonely, even *before* Harvey and Bruce hook up, simply due to Harvey's driven, workaholic tendencies.

She knows that Harvey *does* love her, in his own way: casually, comfortably, if not particularly passionately. She knows he'd never embarrass her (his own career depends on it) or be intentionally cruel. He doesn't lie.

Smitty wrote (unpublished bit): He made the rules with Gilda. He promised to marry her, father her children, and give her a good life, and in return, she was not to ask awkward questions. She always plays her part well. She dotes on Bruce, sometimes invites him to dinner without Harvey's instruction. She remembers his birthday and sends him cards at Christmas. She's warm and friendly and treats him like one of the family. Sometimes she plays her part so well, he wonders if she's truly oblivious to his secret.

Well, of course she's not. She's too smart and it's been too long for that. So why has she settled for this? Why is she not horribly resentful or hateful, and why has she stuck it out with Harvey for so long? Has she simply completely immersed herself in her kids and her volunteer work? Does she, very discreetly, have her own lover(s)? (No, Carmen, Barbara [either Jim's-wife or Babs] Gordon is not an option. ;) I definitively want to stay away from the secretly crazy (ala Long Halloween or otherwise) or secretly alcoholic or drug-addicted (Harvey wouldn't stand for it) versions.

* http://www.lgbtcampus.org/resources/training/kinsey_scale.html

***

The rest of this is from chat and emails by Smitty, who clearly has to write Gilda-POV for me. ;)

Smitty says:

Once she realizes it's Bruce, she probably goes through a stage of resentment, but she also knows that he keeps Harvey's demons at bay and she knows that she's not strong enough to do the same, so she's content to share. She adores her children and they're mostly her life. If he marries her first, he just has to be a little harsher about the truths she needs to understand. And in fact, think of it like this...having *just* Bruce to contend with might make Gilda more generous toward him. There's no danger of Harvey being caught in a steam room with the city councilman. Yeah it's Bruce, and he obviously has Harvey's heart, but he's the devil she knows. And he saved Harvey's life (as far as she knows) so they have a REASON for being friends and being together all the time. I imagine Harvey grew impatient with her and pulled away after he found Bruce, short-tempered with her. Her being so kind to Bruce won Harvey back over to her. Plus, Harvey mellowed out at home some, because Bruce helps him channel his burning drive for justice and makes their war on crime work, rather than frustrating him. There's a lot less frustration all around with Bruce.

(I said: Sarah, meanwhile, wants to see friction between Bruce and Gilda, and wonders if Harvey's kids don't resent Bruce immensely. *headbang*)

She replied:

But before I clarify my thing, I should extend my thinking on this one--Harvey's kids don't have the first clue. First off, they're kids, so they're self-centered. Secondly, Bruce has been around longer than they have and they know him as the man who saved their father's life before they were born (bet that's a story that gets swelled out of proportion around the dining room table) and maybe even as...they probably don't call him "Uncle Bruce" but if he's been coming to dinner at the Dent's regularly, I'm sure he always had candy in his pockets and gifts on their birthdays and Christmas. Thirdly, Gilda most likely explains away Harvey's absences with "Daddy's working, making Gotham safer for everyone." She's not going to tell the kids he's out fucking Bruce and she's going to keep a strong face on--the kids would notice if she looked sad and she's a caretaker, someone who draws their strength from nursing others. She doesn't mope, hardly ever and never in front of the kids. The kids *might* find out later, when they're much older, and then you'll have a Friends episode on your hands. :D

My Gilda was much more delusional. My Gilda likes to pretend that maybe Bruce and Harvey really are just very good friends.

Think of her as Rosie Gamgee here. She sees Harvey and Bruce together, they're friends. No matter how awful either of them may be outside her walls, together she sees them talk and smile and slap each other on the back. They don't gaze at each other, they don't hold hands and they certainly never fuck each other with her in the house. (Unless they do it in Harvey's library late at night, but they're both too careful for that. Never know when one of the twins might come downstairs for some reason, y'know?) When they leave, she knows they'll be together at some point, but they could just as well be going to a strip club together or having a drink or talking about Gotham politics. What she does know is that he's with Bruce, who takes care of him, who can handle his moods, and who will not be caught in a compromising position with him. When Harvey doesn't come home at all, she knows he'll probably be with Bruce that night, but she doesn't know when or where--I imagine he makes the pretense. "Gilda, I'm working late. Don't wait up for me." He says that when he IS working late. And he says it when he's working late, then getting together with Bruce. He doesn't tell her he's with Bruce but he doesn't lie, because she promised not to ask. Instead she kind of makes up her own game about where he is and what he's doing and sometimes he IS just having whiskey with Bruce and talking about his day and sometimes he IS just working late...and she really tries not to think of them being together.

She *does* know better, but as long as she doesn't have to see evidence of it, she feels she can set whatever images she wants. And so she kind of drives herself away from Harvey. She does love Harvey, but in a very comfortable, warm, not-real-passionate way.

She goes through the giddy, in-love part, then goes through despair when the giddy in-love part fades, but she has his children and she ends up becoming content in her new role as mother, and while she still loves her husband, it's not really all about HIM anymore, it's that she is fond of him, and he gives her a good life and has given her children. And she's comfortable with her life, even though it no longer centers around him anymore. He's still a large and important part of it, but not in the same way he once was. She knows what he likes for breakfast and how he takes his coffee. They share a love of their children, and she knows of Harvey's fear of being a father and she admires the pains he takes to discipline the children fairly, and encourage them endlessly, and be there for them when he can--he probably leaves work on Saturday afternoons to watch a Little League game, and then they go out for ice cream and Gilda takes the kids home and he goes back to the office. She admires his commitment to Gotham and the law, and she's the one on his arm at society functions. He *does* talk to her, tells her about his work when she asks. She doesn't push him, she doesn't ask about where he goes when he leaves or when he'll be home. She irons his shirts and readies his suits and he probably thanks her, and is generous to her, because he does feel a little guilty about Bruce, and wants her to feel appreciated because she's not loved.

I think when they met, it was at a restaurant when the first love of her life broke her heart and Harvey went over and sat in the empty seat while she was crying. He bought her a slice of chocolate cake and ate it himself when she couldn't. He told her he wanted to be her friend and at the time she thought she would never love another man again, so she agreed. Before she really fell for him, he said, "I need a wife, not a lover," and she agreed, thinking their friendship would be enough to sustain the marriage. Their first time was awkward, but then Harvey made her laugh and they spent most of their honeymoon doing something goofy--trying to figure out how many different cheeses they could taste in Paris, or maybe spending a lot of it apart. She'd sit on the beach and read, covered up in sunscreen while he tried snorkeling, and then they'd dine together and dance and go to bed too tired to really do anything. That's when she felt the first pangs of, but shouldn't we-- but she'd already promised and in those days, Harvey wasn't actually that averse to sleeping with her when there wasn't anyone else occupying his thoughts. The first time he called her and hesitated before saying he was going to be out late (didn't specify working) she cried herself to sleep. He stayed close for a couple of months, then made that same call. This time she decided that fine, if he was out having fun, then she'd amuse herself, too. She ate peanut butter from a jar for dinner and read a romance novel, called it rubbish, and went to bed early, forgetting to blow out the candle she'd lit on her bedside table. The next morning, she found Harvey on the other side of the bed, the candle blown out and carefully capped. She didn't say a word about his late night, and he never said a word about the dangers of leaving a candle lit. A few other times, she left a candle burning, purposely, and then one night, he didn't come home at all, and she woke in the morning to find the candle burning low. She blew it out herself.

She always knew there were things Harvey kept from her, but after that night, it became more obvious, and their marriage started crumbling. He let her cling to him briefly the night Maroni threw acid at him, but where he might have responded by spending a little extra time with her before, he all but pushed her away, humoring her not at all. He stopped listening when she talked, he barely came home to change clothes, and instead of a once-a-week or twice-a-month night alone, she was alone every single night and woke up to him putting on a fresh shirt and tie, his side of the bed untouched. She knew there was someone but she had also promised not to ask, so she didn't. That's probably when she started getting into the volunteer work. After a week or two, Harvey settled down and was at least coming home for dinner a few nights a week and not spending every night entirely away.

I guess I'm not sure how long after the acid-throwing Harvey and Bruce get together. It would make more sense if it was a few weeks, so Harvey spends a few weeks being distracted and sort of dismissive of Gilda and then really pulls away for a bit, but then Christmas comes and Gilda tells Harvey she'll be sending a Christmas card to Wayne Manor and would he like to add a personal note, seeing as Bruce was such a good friend and all, and asked if they shouldn't have him over for dinner soon, etc. Harvey mellows out to her then, pleased that she is so generous herself in playing the game, and tries to repay her kindness in ways he can--money and gifts, mostly. He ignores her almost entirely in bed, until she suggests to him that the DA should have a child or two to round out his family, it's good for public image, and since she's appealed to him in his terms, he complies. (He also doesn't quite think it's actually going to happen--that some higher power will realize he's going to be a terrible father and not let Gilda get pregnant--so he's willing to play along for a while. Besides, Gilda's asked for nothing since he got together with Bruce, and since the intensity of the relationship has relaxed just a little, he sometimes feels that the owes her and wants to give her whatever he can.) He doesn't realize Bruce is going to react the way he does, and so he kind of backpedals, and winds up panicking a bit on his own, afraid that 1) he'll lose Bruce and 2) he'll be more tied to Gilda than he has been or has ever wanted to be. Then, of course, Gilda has the kids, and Bruce and Harvey have a strain as Harvey wants to be with the kids and is trying not to be the crap father HIS dad was. Bruce, ever the master of psychology, realizes the best way to keep Harvey's affection is to use Gilda's tactic--Gilda doted on him, which pleased Harvey, so now he's going to dote on the kids, to please Harvey. (And Gilda, if he can, because he knows she holds most of the cards and wants to stay on the best side of her he can.)

Gilda's never been someone with a lot of passion. She never really wanted to be anything when she grew up, she never had a lot of specific interests. She's always been shy, never knew what to say to people. I think she sat at home and planned what to say to people the first night Harvey took her somewhere. So even the volunteer stuff, she's better with collecting and sorting clothes and whatever than counseling of any sort. And she's amazed that her kids like her so much.

***

Works for me. *g*



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