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Lieutenant Blouse Edit

Blouse

Lieutenant Blouse is a key character in the novel Monstrous Regiment. He takes his name from the British slang expression "a big girl's blouse" which means a 'wimp'. He is Polly Perks' platoon commander and, not surprising given his name, is a rather effeminate aristocrat, of the type parodied in sendups of the British Army. He is public school educated with a love of amateur dramatics, so used to servants that he cannot actually shave himself. A small skinny asthmatic and weak-chinned man with an Adam's apple like a ball on an elastic string, Lt. Blouse has been promoted from 2nd Lt. in the Blankets, Bedding and Horse-Fodder Department due to there being NO other officers left in the entire Borogravian army who could possibly lead "men" to war. Despite his rank, he is quite incompetent and not very qualified for dealing with the realities of war. He has little or no grasp of any military tactics, relying on his numerous books. He cannot use a sword (in fact he manages to cut his own sword hand while practicing moves from page 5 of his book. He knows nothing about horses and mistakes his mount which he names Thalacephalos after General Tacticus' stallion which is really a mare. He is offered one of the captured cavalry horses but fortunately does not take one of these spirited mounts and sticks to his old plug because he cannot ride well. His horse is a master at making him fall off. However when the need arises he comes up with new an innovative schemes for his troops. He also has a tendency to miss the extremely obvious such as the fact that his entire unit including his horse is female, not male. In spite of this, he seems to be liked by his subordinates, if not hugely respected. His positive traits also include a remarkable talent for mathematics and technology and he quickly calculates how the Morse signalling system could be used to advantage and grasps how binary signalling (as used in a Roundworld computer) is used for sending pictures over the clacks, and even comes up with an improvement to make it more efficient. In this he seems to be the polar opposite of his overweight sergeant, Jackrum. In the scene involving the signalling device he thinks faster than Jackrum and uses fake signals to misdirect enemy forces, whereas Jackrum would have simply smashed the device and moved on; a sign of warfare on the Discworld changing, with intelligence and technology beginning to take the place of bravery and fighting skill. Ironically, despite his rather feminine manner and distinct lack of martial prowess, he turns out to be one of the few characters in the novel who is genuinely male. In a scene reminiscent of many such gender bending scenarios from Shakespeare to English pantomime, he believes he is the only one capable of acting convincingly enough as a washerwoman to sneak into the castle because he has acting experience, not realizing that in fact the rest of his company is really female and ideal for the role because of their gender. Despite this, he respects and admires the women when he learns the truth, informing their captors that "[he] would not trade them for any six men [they] offered [him]". Blouse's ambition is to have an item of clothing or a food named after him, in the manner of many famous military men (Raglan sleeves, Cardigan sweaters and Beef Wellington). Eventually a type of finger-less glove is named for him, perhaps a sexual joke by Pratchett to indicate his effeminate nature and the fact that his regiment is really female. At the end of the novel he is promoted to Major and Polly and Maladicta head off to join his company because they see him as the future of the Borogravian army.

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