Professor Blood is a character that fascinates me. Not because I respect him or adore him but his dark complexity intrigues me. Many of the adult characters especially at school sometimes seem one dimensional. In many ways I thought for sure that Professor Blood would be another one of those characters that are evil and fun to hate. However it turns out he is the father of Grace and from there we do see he is capable of love—though not displayed in the best of ways.
Professor Blood is seen as a relentlessly ambitious man who’s only concern is to be the best. He is obsessed with rules, propriety, class, and raw indignation. He looks down on others and has a haughty demeanor towards all that do not fit the life he is trying to achieve for himself and his family. However despite this high horse mentality he also has a sense of bending the rules for his own gain. Lying to keep his reputation in order and making his daughter lie as well to continue maintaining a certain decorum. Faking Effy Stonem’s grades in order to boost Roundview in esteem and to make him look like the grand headmaster capable of anything. He is willing to cheat, lie, and manipulate if it means he gets what he wants and is seen by the proper authorities as a win for him.
One of my favorite quotes from Professor Blood highlights this attitude.
“In my experience, Ms. Stonem, we are all living lies. Reality, as the Sophists so elegantly informed us, is all relative.
Sophists are simply a bunch of elitist teachers and intellectuals who were well read and well versed. They at the charge of Socrates (a well known philosopher) have no mind for truth or seeking truth only to be seen as the victor of a robust and elegant conversation. In which one out bested the other in intellectual debate. Many philosophers like Socrates and Plato scoffed at the Sophists for being deceivers. People who make other people feel stupid in the name of making themselves look better.
In essence this is Professor Blood. A man who has no morality and no sense of wrong or right. He has goals and he knows that people are the pawns that he must play in order to reach his goals. He taught his daughter, Grace, at an early age the importance of being able to play multiple parts. Why? Because if you play the game you get ahead. The only thing though is that his daughter became an idealist who dreamed of love and friendship. For something that was more important than her and involved others. The only lesson that stuck with Grace is the ability to pretend when it was necessary. Especially to pretend with him.
I always found it fascinating that Grace the daughter of a deceiver not bothered with morality or genuineness falls for a boy who wants everything to mean something. Rich is a character who wants to be himself. He wants truth. He wants things to mean something. He despises the fake and the morally corrupt. He is the anti-Blood. Grace is torn between these two men. One who offers her lies and the other who offers her truth. One who hides his motivations and feelings when it best suits him and the other who could not hide how he feels if he tried. One who is layered and the other straight forward. These are the men in Grace’s life.
In the end though we see Professor Blood in a position we have never seen him in. Vulnerable. He lost his only daughter. A daughter he pushed, he protected, and dreamed of a wonderful life for. It might not have been the life Grace wanted but one thing is for certain Blood loved his daughter. By losing his daughter he is forced to face his priorities something that sadly happens when you lose someone. He comes to Rich his arch-nemesis to tell him about Grace, because he finally had to admit the truth. Not the truth he wanted to sell or the truth he wanted people to believe with deception and words. But the honest truth…that Grace loved Rich. He accepted it and he for the brief second sitting in his ruined house did not care about what people thought.
At the end of it he was just a Dad missing his daughter sharing a stair with the man who loved his daughter and offered her nothing but truth.