TalkSense And Sensibility by Jane Austen - lyzard tutoring Smiler69
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Sense And Sensibility by Jane Austen (1811)
Welcome to the tutored read of Sense And Sensibility by Jane Austen! My tutee for this read will be Ilana (Smiler69)---previously we have worked together through both Austen's Persuasion (thread) and Pride And Prejudice (thread).
Anyone is welcome to join in, but we do ask that people follow that standard tutored read rules: (i) Ilana sets the pace for the read; no questions or comments should be posted dealing with chapters beyond where Ilana indicates that she is up to; and (ii) all posts should include a bolded chapter number so that everyone can find the passages in question and avoid spoilers where necessary.
Although Jane Austen wrote all through her adolescence and young adulthood, she did not publish her first novel until 1811, when she was 36. Under a system common at the time for new writers, Austen paid for publication of her novel, on a profit-sharing arrangement; it cost her approximately £150. She made only £140 pounds on the first edition, but it did sell out and a second edition was issued two years later.
It is generally believed by Austen scholars that Sense And Sensibility began life around 1795 as an epistolary novel called "Elinor And Marianne"; the existing text still retains much information communicated through letters. By the time Austen was ready to publish, the epistolary novel had gone out of fashion. More importantly, however, she herself was determined to move away from the straight didactic tendency of the late 18th century, and introduce more realistically "mixed" characters in her novels, and the narrative form allowed her more shadings in her writing.
In particular, Sense And Sensibility was a push-back against the novels of extreme sensibility that were popular during the last decades of the 18th century and the early 19th century. In these novels, the moral worth of characters were measured in terms of their "sensibility": in order to demonstrate their inherent superiority to the rest of humanity, the heroes and heroines of these novels spend most of their time crying, fainting, suffering collapses, and often dying from their own emotional extremes.
It is difficult to believe it these days, but these things were taken seriously by many people at the time. Austen, however, found the exaggerated emotion and unrealistic situations in these novels ridiculous, and she mocked this form of writing in her juvenilia. The first draft of Northanger Abbey, which pokes fun at the readers of one sub-genre in this area, the Gothic novel, was written around the same time as "Elinor And Marianne".
But Austen wanted to be taken seriously as a novelist - not to mention get her novels published in the first place, at a time when novel-writing by women was still frowned upon - and so in her adult writing she curbs her sense of humour, using irony and satire to make her points.
Though Austen avoids a straight division between "sense" and "sensibility", the latter is more associated with the character of Marianne Dashwood. Austen's handling of Marianne is troubling to many readers and often a reason why they struggle somewhat with this novel.
Sense And Sensibility was published anonymously, as by "A Lady". It was well-received by the critics, as were Austen's subsequent works. In particular, other novelists who also worked as literary critics were quick to recognise that a new sort of novel had been born, which found ample subject matter in the details of everyday domestic life. Austen's focus upon her female characters and her understanding of the difficulties of life for women as a sustained theme was also something different. One of her most significant contributions is that she made the flawed heroine not just acceptable, but sympathetic and appealing. Austen is now viewed as one of, perhaps the progenitor of the novel of realism, which became dominant in Britain over the course of the 19th century.
Almost forgetting to say thank you for setting this up Liz!
I planned on setting aside plenty of time today for reading, but see we're already in the late evening hours here. Boo! In any case, will read a chapter or two to kick things off and be back tomorrow for the first round of questions/comments. Thanks so much for the opening comments. I hadn't thought of Marianne as embodying the heroines of the extreme sensibility types of 18th century novels you describe, but now I'm reading Jane Austen's biography by Claire Tomalin and know a bit more about her background and influences, it makes perfect... ahem, sense, and will help me appreciate Marianne better, or at least laugh at her in better humour! The first time 'round I mostly found her silly and annoying, but that foreknowledge will probably colour my opinion of her quite differently this time. I'm looking forward to the first couple of chapters because remember enjoying those tremendously, in what was my very first reading of any of JA's work. Things sort of took a tumble after that, but as we've already established, I've come a long way since! :-)
>3 Morphidae: >4 casvelyn: >5 SqueakyChu: Morphy, casvelyn and Madeline, you are most welcome. Don't feel shy to comment whenever you feel the urge!
I will point out that films are generally altered from the books and even the more faithful versions that we are getting nowadays are changed to help the audience understand that a situation is meant to be funny, for instance; or script / dialect is changed to attempt to convey the same message through the medium of film rather than book, or in the interests of practicality. Emma Thompson is a different prospect to 19 year old Elinor, I fin; knowing the characters' ages gives me a different perspective on them, I find.
Sorry it's a bit garbled; typing on an iPhone with a dying battery over lunch
I agree with humouress's suggestion if only to make it easier for 75ers (and LTers in general) to find these tutored reads - whether they be individual tutored reads or group reads. I already lost and had to search once again for this thread. Now it's bookmarked on my home page - so it won't get lost again.
I'm ready for the first round. It'll be a short one. All quotes are taken from the Project Gutenberg text for convenience.
Volume 1, Chapters 1 & 2
1. "he invited and received into his house the family of his nephew Mr. Henry Dashwood, the legal inheritor of the Norland estate, and the person to whom he intended to bequeath it."
I don't know the first thing about wills and testaments (same thing?), but if Mr. Henry Dashwood is the legal inheritor, does this still leave the old man to leave the estate to anyone he likes?
2. "No sooner was his father's funeral over, than Mrs. John Dashwood, without sending any notice of her intention to her mother-in-law, arrived with her child and their attendants. No one could dispute her right to come; the house was her husband's from the moment of his father's decease; but the indelicacy of her conduct was so much the greater, and to a woman in Mrs. Dashwood's situation, with only common feelings, must have been highly unpleasing;—but in HER mind there was a sense of honor so keen, a generosity so romantic, that any offence of the kind, by whomsoever given or received, was to her a source of immovable disgust."
I would venture to guess that most readers would find Mrs. John Dashwood's behaviour disgusting, when we consider what is coming in chapter 2, no?
Speaking of which (only have comments in the following)
I think this is my favourite chapter in the whole book! I'm completely revolted by the John Dashwoods, but at the same time the way they are characterized and the form the dialogue takes to me reads like the best of high comedy.
The following are just some choice excerpts showing how the intention of leaving the Dashwood ladies £3,000 turns into the intent on giving no money, but instead performing a few neighbourly acts of kindness.
3. ""That is very true, and, therefore, I do not know whether, upon the whole, it would not be more advisable to do something for their mother while she lives, rather than for them—something of the annuity kind I mean.—My sisters would feel the good effects of it as well as herself. A hundred a year would make them all perfectly comfortable."
His wife hesitated a little, however, in giving her consent to this plan.
"To be sure," said she, "it is better than parting with fifteen hundred pounds at once. But, then, if Mrs. Dashwood should live fifteen years we shall be completely taken in."
"Fifteen years! my dear Fanny; her life cannot be worth half that purchase."
"Certainly not; but if you observe, people always live for ever when there is an annuity to be paid them""
The way she then proceeds to explain why she has such a horror of annuities, describing how much her mother 'suffered' from being obliged to pay them out of her own inheritance seems to show she must have been taught to be selfish and avaricious as a young girl.
""It may be very inconvenient some years to spare a hundred, or even fifty pounds from our own expenses."
"I believe you are right, my love; it will be better that there should be no annuity in the case; whatever I may give them occasionally will be of far greater assistance than a yearly allowance, because they would only enlarge their style of living if they felt sure of a larger income"
"Indeed, to say the truth, I am convinced within myself that your father had no idea of your giving them any money at all. The assistance he thought of, I dare say, was only such as might be reasonably expected of you; for instance, such as looking out for a comfortable small house for them, helping them to move their things, and sending them presents of fish and game, and so forth, whenever they are in season. I'll lay my life that he meant nothing farther; indeed, it would be very strange and unreasonable if he did."
I love this strange bit of math, obviously not Fanny Dashwood's strong suit:
"Do but consider, my dear Mr. Dashwood, how excessively comfortable your mother-in-law and her daughters may live on the interest of seven thousand pounds, besides the thousand pounds belonging to each of the girls, which brings them in fifty pounds a year a-piece, and, of course, they will pay their mother for their board out of it. Altogether, they will have five hundred a-year amongst them, and what on earth can four women want for more than that?"
They will be much more able to give YOU something."
And indeed, she almost does expect them to give something:
""Yes; and the set of breakfast china is twice as handsome as what belongs to this house. A great deal too handsome, in my opinion, for any place THEY can ever afford to live in. But, however, so it is. Your father thought only of THEM. And I must say this: that you owe no particular gratitude to him, nor attention to his wishes; for we very well know that if he could, he would have left almost everything in the world to THEM.""
Though it's true enough that Mr. Henry Dashwood would have liked to leave everything to his wife and daughters, thinking his son was already well provided for. Obviously Mrs. John Dashwood is conveniently leaving that consideration out of her calculations.
That's all for today. Busy day tomorrow, so I may only be back for the next round on Monday, so by all means take your time Liz.
A classic Austen evisceration. So reasonable, so sensible, so utterly absurd.
Sections like that are what made me adore Jane Austen's novels in the first place, but I've found that as I get older, it's the behind-the-scenes stuff and subtext that tug at my heart. I don't think I'd feel so strongly about Austen if it wasn't there. The pain of being evicted from a house that has always been a home by a selfish relative so soon after the death of a beloved husband and father was very obvious to me when I re-read the book at thirty, in a way that it had not been when I read it at twenty.
And the struggle to maintain your own sense of integrity in the face of the capriciousness of those whom society gives power over you was even more clear to me at forty, than I had grasped at thirty.
The pain of being evicted from a house that has always been a home by a selfish relative so soon after the death of a beloved husband and father was very obvious to me when I re-read the book at thirty, in a way that it had not been when I read it at twenty.
..and it was the following statement that had real meaning for me as I recently lost my job and had to choose whether or not to take an annuity...
people always live for ever when there is an annuity to be paid them
I chose the annuity to guarantee I'd have a long life! ;)
By the way, what was the life span for a woman at that time?
Sorry, people! - didn't mean to disappear on you like that, but I'd barely finished setting up the thread when my weekend decided to go pear-shaped on me.
I'll work back through your comments as soon as I can.
Welcome Ilana, Morphy, casvelyn, Madeleine, Carrie, Joyce (Citizenjoyce), Nina, Heather, Kerry, Paul, Katherine, Joyce (Nickelini), Marissa, Genny, and Nicki!!
Thank you all for joining in, and apologies again for my poor showing as a hostess so far. :)
>10 Citizenjoyce: I'm not sure it's fair to blame the book for the liberties taken by film-makers, Joyce! :)
I wouldn't say there is no humour here, but there is certainly a big divide between the film, which has been given a hearty shove in the direction of "romantic comedy", and the novel which is nothing of the kind.
>11 humouress: Yes, good point, Nina: Elinor and Marianne are both much younger than depicted onscreen, which is very important for the correct understanding of Marianne in particular.
Also, the possibility of setting up a tutored reads group is something I would like to discuss with everyone when I catch my breath!
>14 CDVicarage: I hope so too, Kerry!
>19 Nickelini: I think the characterisation of Marianne is one of the main talking points in S&S.
>25 southernbooklady: I agree completely, Nicki - nicely put.
Of course (as some of us discussed when we did Persuasion) being forced out of a house where you have been happy and comfortable and into one where you were neither is something Austen herself experiences and something that shows up in her novels as an example of the powerlessness of women and their lack of control over their own lives.
Lifespans generally were on average shorter; there was little by way of medicine and health care as we would now understanding it, and what we might consider fairly trivial illnesses or accidents could be fatal. Women were at additional risk because of the dangers associated with pregnancy and childbirth, and many died very young. Also (as we touched on in Pride And Prejudice), women without male relatives willing or able to support them often struggled to afford adequate food, clothes and heating and were vulnerable to illness as a consequence.
That latter situation is exactly what confronts the Dashwoods at the opening of the novel.
What always strikes me most about that opening exchange between John and Fanny is that this was the way an anonymous new author announced herself to the reading public of 1811. Surely they must have realised at once that someone special had arrived on the scene?
It can't be easy to write something even more horrifying than it is funny. :)
1. The point there (which we should all appreciate after Pride And Prejudice!) is that the estate is not entailed. Henry Dashwood is the "legal inheritor" inasmuch as he is the old man's closest male relative of the same family name. He is also "the person to whom he intended to bequeath it", meaning that old Mr Dashwood had a choice about how to leave his estate. Though it is not strictly entailed, he decides to legally tie it up in the male line, which means that it reverts to John and John's son after the deaths of the two Mr Dashwoods. But it *could* have all been done differently, which is what Mr Henry Dashwood hoped for but didn't get.
The consequence of this is that Henry Dashwood couldn't leave more to his widow and daughters than belonged to himself separate from the estate, all of which goes to John. All he can do is trust John to do the right thing and fulfil his dying wishes.
Here again we find Austen highlighting the vulnerability of women, who are not only financially dependent anyway but at the mercy of male relatives who are greedy / selfish / cruel.
2. Remember in Pride And Prejudice we had Mrs Bennet fretting that Mr Collins would come and turn them all out as soon as Mr Bennet was dead? She wasn't just being neurotic; it did happen.
3. "You owe no particular gratitude to him, nor attention to his wishes; for we very well know that if he could, he would have left almost everything in the world to THEM."
And who could blame him?
Since I wrote my comments, I've read the lengthy introductions to both my copies (Annotated editions by Spacks and a second by Shapard), and I'm already starting to understand Marianne's character better.
Also, both touched on the ambiguity of the title, which I struggle with myself. As with P&P, neither main character is all of one virtue. It's not Sense vs. Sensibility, as either Spacks or Shapard pointed out. I always have a hard time with "sensibility" not meaning something like "the quality of being sensible or reasonable," and is instead something more the opposite.
Austen was realist enough to know that ignoring society's rules was a dangerous way of proceeding, particularly for women. Her novels tend to be about young women working out how much they can honestly "give" to society and its demands, without losing their identity or their self-respect.
I stumbled across this one hour video tonight that is quite interesting (I listened to it while doing some mindless stuff with my hands and eyes, but I bet it looked pretty great). Although it's labelled "Jane Austen", it's really about the era leading up to her work, and I think it explains things that her first readers would have assumed but what we might miss. If you have time: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTSY2072a8w
Yes, it's important that we remember that although she was publishing during the Regency, Austen was a product of late Georgian society.
There's a I Love Jane Austen group, so I posted the link to this over there: http://www.librarything.com/talktopic.php?topic=3930#4601555
Maybe we'll get a few more folks to join in.
>25 southernbooklady: Those are great observations Nicky. Unlike you, I only came to Jane Austen already in my 40s, so didn't get the chance to compare what I got out of her books over time, though there are a couple of books I've read several times since my teens where I observed similar types of evolutions in my understanding.
>26 SqueakyChu: Smart thinking Madeline! :-)
>31 lyzard: Liz, good point about how this first chapter was the first glimpse the reading public got of this new author. Hadn't thought of it from that perspective, but then, I share that with the reading public of 1811, since it was my first glimpse of Austen's writing too exactly 200 years later!
1. And we are to understand that the old man left it all to John Dashwood as opposed to Henry simply because he took a special liking to him? Of course we don't get to learn much about the old man since he's killed off right from the beginning, but I don't think that speaks highly of him or his character.
2. Yes indeed, good point about Mrs Bennet and Mr Collins. I wish I'd kept the situation at the beginning of S&S in mind as I was reading P&P with you, but it somehow slipped my mind, even though that is one of the most memorable aspects of S&S for me, given how much chapter 2 struck me the first time I read it.
3. Indeed. Had he known what a jerk his son turned out to be, I'm sure he'd have put his request in writing and had it notarised.
>32 Nickelini: Joyce, I don't know if I mentioned I'm reading from the Everyman's Library edition, which has an introduction by Peter Conrad; he essentially makes the same point about the title and suggests that from the beginning, Marianne and Elinor share both traits and end up more or less reversing the balance of their dominant characteristics. I came very close to purchasing that Spacks annotated edition of S&S, as well as all the other annotated Austens available from Belknap Press for that matter. They're all waiting in my Amazon.ca shopping cart...
>34 Nickelini: Haven't watched the video yet, I'll have to make time for it, sounds fascinating and probably is very helpful for putting Austen's work in context.
>36 Marissa_Doyle: Added to my wishlist, thanks for the recommendation Marissa. Glad to see it's available at the library too.
>37 jnwelch: Hi Joe, Welcome! Thanks for posting the link in the Austen group. Great idea!
Comments on the book follow.
1. No, he left it to Henry, but only for his lifetime; on Henry's death it then went automatically to John. This is in keeping with the English tradition of leaving everything to the oldest son, but Henry was hoping that his uncle would break tradition to the point where he (Henry) would be able to provide properly for his wife and daughters.
I love the tone of this, too:
Mrs. John Dashwood had never been a favourite with any of her husband's family; but she had had no opportunity, till the present, of shewing them with how little attention to the comfort of other people she could act when occasion required it.
...though of course, this is (in seriousness) the critical passage:
Elinor, this eldest daughter, whose advice was so effectual, possessed a strength of understanding, and coolness of judgment, which qualified her, though only nineteen, to be the counsellor of her mother, and enabled her frequently to counteract, to the advantage of them all, that eagerness of mind in Mrs. Dashwood which must generally have led to imprudence. She had an excellent heart;—her disposition was affectionate, and her feelings were strong; but she knew how to govern them: it was a knowledge which her mother had yet to learn; and which one of her sisters had resolved never to be taught.
Marianne's abilities were, in many respects, quite equal to Elinor's. She was sensible and clever; but eager in everything: her sorrows, her joys, could have no moderation. She was generous, amiable, interesting: she was everything but prudent. The resemblance between her and her mother was strikingly great.
This book always make me wonder about the relationships in the Austen family. Those of you who have read the bisographies might know how it was. Was there a close relationship between Mrs Austen and Cassandra? Did Jane get stuck with the family's unpleasant jobs?
4. "Mrs. Dashwood had been informed by her husband of the solemn promise on the part of his son in their favour, which gave comfort to his last earthly reflections."
Can we assume this is the objective truth or are we to take it that is Mrs Dashwood's impression only?
Off topic here, but the Project Gutenberg version I'm copying from for convenience uses the American form for titles which is not my own or that of the edition I'm reading from, as was the case with P&P.
5. "Edward Ferrars was not recommended to their good opinion by any peculiar graces of person or address. He was not handsome, and his manners required intimacy to make them pleasing."
That reminds me of Darcy.
6. What is meant by "his understanding was good"? In what sense? Of what?
7. "it would have quieted her ambition to see him driving a barouche."
Why a barouche in particular? What does this say about her that we don't know already?
8. "No sooner did she perceive any symptom of love in his behaviour to Elinor, than she considered their serious attachment as certain, and looked forward to their marriage as rapidly approaching."
In view of what some of us who have read S&S already, is she really reading too much into it?
9. "He would certainly have done more justice to simple and elegant prose. I thought so at the time; but you WOULD give him Cowper."
I'm not familiar with Cowper. What can you tell us about his writing to help understand what she is implying?
10. "Remember, my love, that you are not seventeen. It is yet too early in life to despair of such a happiness. Why should you be less fortunate than your mother? In one circumstance only, my Marianne, may your destiny be different from hers!"
Indeed, as has been mentioned on this thread already, it's important to keep in mind Marianne is just sixteen years old, a mere teenager, so we need to be tolerant about her fervent pronouncements.
What does she mean in the last sentence? What circumstance?
11. "Do not be offended, Elinor, if my praise of him is not in every thing equal to your sense of his merits. I have not had so many opportunities of estimating the minuter propensities of his mind, his inclinations and tastes, as you have; but I have the highest opinion in the world of his goodness and sense. I think him every thing that is worthy and amiable."
"I am sure," replied Elinor, with a smile, "that his dearest friends could not be dissatisfied with such commendation as that. I do not perceive how you could express yourself more warmly."
Marianne was rejoiced to find her sister so easily pleased."
I take it to mean Marianne only talks only in superlatives and considers she's been conservative in the expression of her esteem in this instance?
12. "You know enough of him to do justice to his solid worth. But of his minuter propensities, as you call them you have from peculiar circumstances been kept more ignorant than myself. He and I have been at times thrown a good deal together, while you have been wholly engrossed on the most affectionate principle by my mother."
I'm not sure I understand that last bit.
13. "Elinor could not help laughing. "Excuse me," said she; "and be assured that I meant no offence to you, by speaking, in so quiet a way, of my own feelings. Believe them to be stronger than I have declared"
Here is our cue that Elinor is just as full of sensibility as her sister, but able to restrain herself in the expression of it.
14. "What his mother really is we cannot know; but, from Fanny's occasional mention of her conduct and opinions, we have never been disposed to think her amiable"
From what we've been told of her mother by Fanny herself in chapter 2, as regards her attitude about being forced to give annuities, I think we can assumed she isn't exactly an amiable woman, isn't that so?
15. "He is very far from being independent. What his mother really is we cannot know; but, from Fanny's occasional mention of her conduct and opinions, we have never been disposed to think her amiable; and I am very much mistaken if Edward is not himself aware that there would be many difficulties in his way, if he were to wish to marry a woman who had not either a great fortune or high rank."
Marianne was astonished to find how much the imagination of her mother and herself had outstripped the truth."
I don't understand what is meant here. Which part of the truth?
16. "No sooner was her answer dispatched, than Mrs. Dashwood indulged herself in the pleasure of announcing to her son-in-law and his wife that she was provided with a house, and should incommode them no longer than till every thing were ready for her inhabiting it. They heard her with surprise. Mrs. John Dashwood said nothing; but her husband civilly hoped that she would not be settled far from Norland. She had great satisfaction in replying that she was going into Devonshire.—Edward turned hastily towards her, on hearing this, and, in a voice of surprise and concern, which required no explanation to her, repeated, "Devonshire! Are you, indeed, going there? So far from hence! And to what part of it?"
Unlike Mrs Dashwood, I do require an explanation; what is she inferring?
17. "Though her late conversation with her daughter-in-law had made her resolve on remaining at Norland no longer than was unavoidable, it had not produced the smallest effect on her in that point to which it principally tended."
I think I know what is meant here, but not absolutely sure... ?
18. "Mr. John Dashwood told his mother again and again how exceedingly sorry he was that she had taken a house at such a distance from Norland as to prevent his being of any service to her in removing her furniture. He really felt conscientiously vexed on the occasion; for the very exertion to which he had limited the performance of his promise to his father was by this arrangement rendered impracticable."
I love this bit, in direct continuation to the so very telling chapter 2. I also greatly appreciate JA's use of the word "performance" in this context, which obviously is to be taken in both senses of the word, i.e. Interpretation vs. Execution.
19. "she relied so undoubtingly on Sir John's description of the house, as to feel no curiosity to examine it herself till she entered it as her own."
What is JA telling us about Mrs Dashwood here?
>41 lyzard: Yes, I love the tone of that first quote as well. It struck me greatly when I first read it, as well as this second (and now third) time too!
Interesting point about the second quote. A very telling quote in the context of this particular story, but indeed, having just finished Tomalin's biography of Jane Austen a couple of days ago, you've raised an interesting question. According to Tomalin, Cassandra was very serious and prone to be quite unhappy, while Jane was more successful at battling against the effects of depression and supported her sister as well. I didn't get a sense of which of the two Mrs Austen might have favoured though. Unless my memory is already failing me—which is not unlikely.
eta: typos + added 2 last sentences.
The traditional system assumed that the inheritor would discharge his duties with respect to his dependent relatives (including any younger brothers), but as we see in practice, that was far from always being the case.
The first is the relationship between Mrs Dashwood and Marianne, as per the quote above (#41):
...her sorrows, her joys, could have no moderation. She was generous, amiable, interesting: she was everything but prudent. The resemblance between her and her mother was strikingly great.
That "resemblance" is an emotional resemblance. Both Marianne and her mother are full of "sensibility", which in its simplest terms means that they are impulsive and that they privilege emotion over thought.
Throughout our examination of Pride And Prejudice, we discussed the responsibilities of parents towards daughters, and how the Bennets neglect was so damaging to Lydia.
Here, albeit in a very different way, we have another example of inappropriate parenting, with Mrs Dashwood encouraging Mariane's emotional and exaggerated approach to life rather than teaching her to "govern" herself, to use the term Austen uses of Elinor. Since Mrs Dashwood was happily married herself, we can perhaps assume that her own sensibility caused her no trouble in life, and possibly she doesn't see that it may lead to difficulties in other circumstances.
We shouldn't misunderstand Austen here. It's not that she didn't value emotions and passions. On the contrary, she believed that people's feelings were valid and important; but it was also important that they weren't permitted to dictate behaviour, which could lead young women into damaging situations.
On the other hand, we also see exactly what Austen felt about people who could be as unemotional, as coldly calculating, as Fanny Dashwood.
The other consequence of the close connection between Mrs Dashwood and Marianne is that Elinor tends to end up a bit excluded. The youngest girl, Margaret, is too young to be a real companion for her. There is understandably some loneliness on Elinor's part, if not resentment.
I'm seeing again in S&S as in P&P the same affinity between mother and daughter to the daughter's detriment. I haven't read about the family but assume from what you say, Illana, that Cassandra was Jane's younger sister. What must she have thought when she read about these 2 relationships?
4. No, I'm sure that's exactly how it happened: when Mr Dashwood knew he was dying, he took comfort in thinking his family would be provided for.
5. I think Austen had great sympathy for shy people, particularly in a society that didn't really allow people to be shy or private (which is a major theme of this novel).
6. "A good understanding" meant that he was naturally intelligent. On top of that we hear that he has received a good education.
7. Fanny Dashwood is a bit like the Bingley sisters, in that she wants her own consequence to be increased by having a brother who is fashionable, if not actually important. Carriages then were like cars now, status symbols: some were used for show, not practicality. A barouche was a four-wheeled, two-horse open carriage that would have established Edward as holding a certain position in the world.
8. Yes, much too much. As Mrs Dashwood says, she "feel(s) no sentiment of approbation inferior to love"; she doesn't operate in shades of grey, and therefore cannot grasp how slowly two shy, self-controlled people might move towards one another.
9. William Cowper (pronounced "Cooper") was an 18th century poet and composer of hymns. He was one of the first Englishmen to write poetry about nature and the countryside. His work is also deeply religious and moral: he was the originator of the couplet, God moves in a mysterious way, his wonders to perform...
Cowper was one of Jane Austen's favourite poets, and we should note the significance of his being also Marianne's favourite, not Elinor's. His poems are very emotional and passionate, and therefore perhaps unsuitable for the very quiet and straightforward Edward, who as Elinor notes would have done better with "simple and elegant prose".
10. It is very important that we keep in mind that Marianne is only sixteen at this point. Should we expect sense rather than sensibility? :)
Mrs Dashwood is a widow: she hopes Marianne will marry as happily as she did, but not have her marriage end prematurely, as hers did.
11. Yes, that's quite right. To Elinor, "every thing that is worthy and amiable" is high praise, to Marianne it's only the kind of tepid thing you say when you're trying to be nice.
There are further instances throughout the book of the different levels on which Elinor and Marianne operate.
12. That refers to the close relationship between Mrs Dashwood and Marianne: they spend a lot of time alone in each other's company. In this instance, being excluded means Elinor has been left to entertain Edward. Elinor puts a positive spin on her exclusion (it's difficult to know how she really feels about it) by putting it down to Mrs Dashwood's deep affection for Marianne.
13. Yes, exactly.
14. Very much so. Just wait and see. :)
15. Mrs Dashwood and Marianne have let their imaginations run away and have already begun discussing what they will do after Elinor and Edward are married. Now they find out that the subject hasn't even been touched on between them.
Here is another very important passage:
"When you tell me to love him as a brother, I shall no more see imperfection in his face, than I now do in his heart."
Elinor started at this declaration, and was sorry for the warmth she had been betrayed into, in speaking of him. She felt that Edward stood very high in her opinion. She believed the regard to be mutual; but she required greater certainty of it to make Marianne's conviction of their attachment agreeable to her. She knew that what Marianne and her mother conjectured one moment, they believed the next—that with them, to wish was to hope, and to hope was to expect.
16. That Edward has shown how dismayed he is ("surprise and concern") at the family - meaning Elinor - moving so far away.
17. That she wants to get away from John and Fanny, but has no intention of doing anything to make things difficult for Edward and Elinor, in spite of Fanny's insinuations.
18. Oh, yes - she's great at double meanings!
19. That she's too trusting, and takes too much for granted, or at face value.
To grass, or leaf, or fruit, or wall,
The snail sticks close, nor fears to fall,
As if he grew there, house and all
Within that house secure he hides,
When danger imminent betides
Of storm, or other harm besides
Give but his horns the slightest touch,
His self-collecting power is such,
He shrinks into his house, with much
Where'er he dwells, he dwells alone,
Except himself has chattels none,
Well satisfied to be his own
Thus, hermit-like, his life he leads,
Nor partner of his banquet needs,
And if he meets one, only feeds
Who seeks him must be worse than blind,
(He and his house are so combin'd)
If, finding it, he fails to find
Here's something a bit more typical, a very short extract from a very long work, The Task:
At such a season and with such a charge
Once went I forth, and found, till then unknown,
A cottage, whither oft we since repair:
'Tis perched upon the green hill-top, but close
Environed with a ring of branching elms
That overhang the thatch, itself unseen
Peeps at the vale below; so thick beset
With foliage of such dark redundant growth,
I called the low-roofed lodge the peasant's nest.
And hidden as it is, and far remote
From such unpleasing sounds as haunt the ear
In village or in town, the bay of curs
Incessant, clinking hammers, grinding wheels,
And infants clamorous whether pleased or pained,
Oft have I wished the peaceful covert mine.
Here, I have said, at least I should possess
The poet's treasure, silence, and indulge
The dreams of fancy, tranquil and secure...
This is one of the reasons that I've always preferred Anne Elliot to Elinor Dashwood. Anne's maturity allows her to recognize and accept the realities of her own feelings, without being overly influenced by the opinions of others...even others whom she respects and whose opinions she values.
Elinor, on the other hand, seems to have no such recourse or self-reliance. She lacks Anne's basic serenity and emotional confidence. I suppose it must be remembered that Elinor is but nineteen, whereas Anne is a wise old twenty-something, and that Elinor has had no experience with love, whereas as Anne has an interrupted love affair she has survived entirely due to her own personal inner strength. But I admit there are times when I want to say to Elinor, "come girl, don't be such a doormat!"
7. Would be interesting to compare between Fanny Dashwood and Miss Bingley who of the two is most unpleasant and pretentious!
9. Ah! Even I know about "God moves in a mysterious way, his wonders to perform..." though can't be sure now if I ever knew it was by Cowper. Marianne might not have like his snail poem, but it certainly appeals to me! The poem reminds me of a book I saw mentioned by other LTers a couple of years ago called The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating which I look forward to reading some time.
12. That refers to the close relationship between Mrs Dashwood and Marianne: they spend a lot of time alone in each other's company. In this instance, being excluded means Elinor has been left to entertain Edward. Elinor puts a positive spin on her exclusion (it's difficult to know how she really feels about it) by putting it down to Mrs Dashwood's deep affection for Marianne.
That's very interesting, I hadn't read it that way at all, indeed had no idea what it meant. I had not at all picked up on the fact that Elinor might feel left out of the trio on first reading S&S, but then I missed a lot, given it was my first experience with JA's work. But rereading that passage now with your answer in mind, I begin to see it. I would in fact read more than a little envy because of her saying "my mother" as opposed to "our", though I know by now this was the normal usage... though it still doesn't make sense to me why they used that possessive adjective instead of the more inclusive "our".
14. Just wait and see. :)
Yes, I do recall
16. I feel so silly now. I'd somehow misread "John" instead of "Edward" which is why I didn't understand the context. Wouldn't have even asked if I'd read with my eyes instead of my feet, but it's all good! :-)
17. Yes, that's the conclusion I came to after reading this passage over a few times. Just wanted to be sure!
18. I find this particular example of the device especially delectable. I may love to hate the John Dashwoods even more than Mr. Collins, which is saying a lot! Will have to think on that...
>50 CDVicarage: Why would he resent their going to Devonshire in particular as far away places go? I not very familiar with English geography.
>51 southernbooklady: Anne's maturity allows her to recognize and accept the realities of her own feelings, without being overly influenced by the opinions of others...even others whom she respects and whose opinions she values.
I suppose it must be remembered that Elinor is but nineteen, whereas Anne is a wise old twenty-something, and that Elinor has had no experience with love, whereas as Anne has an interrupted love affair
Yes, I think you've put your finger on it exactly. Anne is after all 27 at the beginning of Persuasion, already very much an old maid on top of everything else, whereas Elinor is still a girl in many regards, albeit a very reasonable one. First love is a very different experience too, and maybe we could consider Anne to be an older version of Elinor? Don't forget Anne did let herself be influenced in her choice all those years ago and was therefore, much like Elinor, very much influenced by the opinion of others in her younger days.
>51 southernbooklady: As Ilana says, Anne is a lot older and more experienced - and she's learned the hard way! It was being "overly influenced by the opinions of others" that got her into difficulties in the first place. :)
But I wouldn't say that it's a matter of Elinor not trusting her feelings - rather, everytime she feels she has reason to be secure in Edward's feelings for her, he pulls away. It's his feelings she's not sure of. She has also absorbed what we might call "the Jane Bennet lesson" of not showing or admitting too much, too soon.
9. I thought of that too!
12. It's probably easiest if you think of "my mother" as another way of saying "Mum". :)
The theme of trust is one of the great unstated currents of an Austen novel, I think. There is much talk of mutual respect and regard -- such things are shored up by the social conventions of the day. But the kind of trust in each other's character that Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth both show in Persuasion (she even more than he, of course) and that Austen seems to feel is necessary to a happy union, is something that other Austen heroines seem to come to only after a struggle. Anne can watch her Captain leave a concert in a jealous huff, and feel certain that "they must understand each other eventually." But Lizzie Bennett needs to be hit over the head with proof of D'Arcy's good character. Jane and Bingley have no faith in the sincerity of each other's feelings. Marianne remains dismissive and oblivious to the character of her admirers. And Elinor, it seems, has trouble granting that kind of trust in another, so that far from "understanding one and other" she and Edward seem doomed to continually misunderstand each other.
It all makes for a tried and true plot, this continual misunderstanding of each other's intentions and the star-crossed fates that seem bent on dividing one from the other (I blame Shakespeare) but after awhile I find that sort of thing a little tedious. I keep wanting to say "For God's sake, would you both just talk to each other!"
I think that's why I find Anne's maturity and confidence so refreshing. (Although, if she's an old maid at 27 then I am an absolute crone!).
The contradiction here, as Austen shows, is that trust was essential to a happy marriage, yet society's rules and restraints went a very long way towards preventing any chance that it could develop.
We do see variations, according to situation: Anne Eliot has spent eight painful years learning to trust Wentworth; Emma Woodhouse trusts Mr Knightley absolutely, but then she's known him all her life in an almost-family way; Catherine Morland is too innocent, and her parents too unworldly, to even realise there might be an issue. But for most of Austen's girls, learning to trust means overcoming a lifetime's teaching.
Elinor is actually right to be wary, as it turns out. And conversely we have Marianne, who in certain circumstances trusts very easily...
(Old-maidship was usually considered to start at around twenty-three - Jane Bennet is "in danger" - and kick in definitely at twenty-five.)
One reason I'm profoundly grateful I don't live in Regency England!
20. How long would the journey to Devonshire have been?
21. "A small green court was the whole of its demesne in front; and a neat wicket gate admitted them into it."
i've never come across that word before. What does it mean, what is its origin and is it still in use today?
22. "As a house, Barton Cottage, though small, was comfortable and compact; but as a cottage it was defective, for the building was regular, the roof was tiled, the window shutters were not painted green, nor were the walls covered with honeysuckles."
I know there's a joke here but I don't get it.
23. a) How many sitting rooms did a typical house normally have? b) What is a garret?
24. "With the size and furniture of the house Mrs. Dashwood was upon the whole well satisfied; for though her former style of life rendered many additions to the latter indispensable, yet to add and improve was a delight to her; and she had at this time ready money enough to supply all that was wanted of greater elegance to the apartments. "As for the house itself, to be sure," said she, "it is too small for our family, but we will make ourselves tolerably comfortable for the present, as it is too late in the year for improvements. Perhaps in the spring, if I have plenty of money, as I dare say I shall, we may think about building."
Twice in one short paragraph, this mention of "having money enough". Tells us how good she is with finances and savings (not at all, which is confirmed shortly after). This reminds me of myself, having learned from my own mother; "when there is money around, you may as well spend it because you can't buy anything when there is none." Not a direct quote, but that's the spirit. As you can imagine, my finances are disastrous!
25. "I could wish the stairs were handsome. But one must not expect every thing; though I suppose it would be no difficult matter to widen them."
From the little I know about carpentry and house renovations, I do recall my designer friend telling me that staircases are A LOT of work and quite tricky to get exactly right.
26. "I shall see how much I am before-hand with the world in the spring"
I suppose this is another way to say she'll see if "there is money enough", but I've never come across this expression before. Any details about it are welcome.
27. "His kindness was not confined to words; for within an hour after he left them, a large basket full of garden stuff and fruit arrived from the park, which was followed before the end of the day by a present of game. He insisted, moreover, on conveying all their letters to and from the post for them, and would not be denied the satisfaction of sending them his newspaper every day."
I suspect Sir John M is a much more generous neighbour than Sir John D would have been...
28. "Conversation however was not wanted, for Sir John was very chatty, and Lady Middleton had taken the wise precaution of bringing with her their eldest child, a fine little boy about six years old, by which means there was one subject always to be recurred to by the ladies in case of extremity, for they had to enquire his name and age, admire his beauty, and ask him questions which his mother answered for him, while he hung about her and held down his head, to the great surprise of her ladyship, who wondered at his being so shy before company, as he could make noise enough at home. On every formal visit a child ought to be of the party, by way of provision for discourse."
Conversation with children in such circumstances seems like it hasn't changed much in 200 years, but I think I'm reading quite a lot of irony in the last sentence. I know Jane's sister Cassandra was always helping her sister in law with deliveries and Jane herself was a loving aunt, so we assume she liked children, but is there some message here I'm missing?
29. "They were scarcely ever without some friends staying with them in the house, and they kept more company of every kind than any other family in the neighbourhood. It was necessary to the happiness of both; for however dissimilar in temper and outward behaviour, they strongly resembled each other in that total want of talent and taste which confined their employments, unconnected with such as society produced, within a very narrow compass. Sir John was a sportsman, Lady Middleton a mother. He hunted and shot, and she humoured her children; and these were their only resources."
They sound like terribly dull people. I wonder what they had to talk and laugh about so much?
30. "Mrs. Dashwood and her daughters were met at the door of the house by Sir John, who welcomed them to Barton Park with unaffected sincerity"
Is it normal that Sir John was alone to greet them on arrival or should Lady Middleton have been there as well?
31. "He had been to several families that morning in hopes of procuring some addition to their number, but it was moonlight and every body was full of engagements."
What is meant here by 'moonlight' (full moon?) and why is everyone busy at this time?
32. "The young ladies, as well as their mother, were perfectly satisfied with having two entire strangers of the party, and wished for no more."
The subtext being?
33. "Mrs. Jennings, Lady Middleton's mother, was a good-humoured, merry, fat, elderly woman, who talked a great deal, seemed very happy, and rather vulgar. She was full of jokes and laughter, and before dinner was over had said many witty things on the subject of lovers and husbands; hoped they had not left their hearts behind them in Sussex, and pretended to see them blush whether they did or not. Marianne was vexed at it for her sister's sake, and turned her eyes towards Elinor to see how she bore these attacks, with an earnestness which gave Elinor far more pain than could arise from such common-place raillery as Mrs. Jennings's."
In the last sentence, why should Marianne's earnest looks give Elinore more pain that Mrs Jennings's teasing?
34. "Lady Middleton seemed to be roused to enjoyment only by the entrance of her four noisy children after dinner, who pulled her about, tore her clothes, and put an end to every kind of discourse except what related to themselves."
35. "Marianne's performance was highly applauded. Sir John was loud in his admiration at the end of every song, and as loud in his conversation with the others while every song lasted. Lady Middleton frequently called him to order, wondered how any one's attention could be diverted from music for a moment, and asked Marianne to sing a particular song which Marianne had just finished."
I love this bit, just wonderful! Also very similar to the situation in P&P when Lady Catherine de Bourgh claims she's a great lover of music but then talks over Elizabeth when she is playing at the piano. I venture to guess this was a common enough occurrence in those days.
36. "His pleasure in music, though it amounted not to that ecstatic delight which alone could sympathize with her own, was estimable when contrasted against the horrible insensibility of the others; and she was reasonable enough to allow that a man of five and thirty might well have outlived all acuteness of feeling and every exquisite power of enjoyment. She was perfectly disposed to make every allowance for the colonel's advanced state of life which humanity required."
Because 35 is so very old of course! But we learn here that Marianne was "reasonable enough" all the same...
20. Yike! Help me out here, English people! :)
Sussex is a county directly to the south of London, on the coast. Devonshire is also on the south coast of England, but much further west. I believe the distance is about 250 kilometres (about 150 miles).
Travelling by coach, so it would have taken several days.
21. Do you remember in Pride And Prejudice that we mentioned the difference between a house and a manor? - that a manor was a house with extra duties / privileges associated with it? This is the same sort of useage: historically, the demesne was the land surrounding a manor-house and managed by the lord of the manor; in feudal times, it would have been worked by the serfs attached to the manor. By this time the term meant land held by the landowner and not rented out to tenants. (So it's usually the grounds directly around the house.)
22. The cottage isn't as "romantic" as hoped: it's functional instead of ornamental. In other words, it's a real cottage house. The qualities it doesn't have, irregularity, green shutters, and trailing honeysuckle, are the kinds of things you find in novel-cottages.
23. There really was no such thing as a typical house. If you were middle-class or up, at least one; but sitting-rooms, like bathrooms, multiply as houses increase in size.
Garret is another word for attic.
24. & 25. And I think we can safely assume that without Elinor to keep an eye on things, Mrs Dashwood's finances would be disastrous too. Clearly she has never had to manage her own money before and hasn't much idea how far it will go (or not).
In the mean time, till all these alterations could be made from the savings of an income of five hundred a-year by a woman who never saved in her life, they were wise enough to be contented with the house as it was...
26. "Before-hand with the world" means having more money than you need to spend - or that you expected to spend - coming in under budget.
27. Of course, that wouldn't be difficult... :)
28. I think rather she's commenting on how awkward visiting people you didn't really know or didn't have much in common with could be: you can easily imagine uncomfortable silences while people groped for topics. A child made an acceptable and shared subject for discussion.
29 I don't think Lady Middleton ever laughs; Sir John laughs at anything, like his mother-in-law.
30. It would have been more common for them not to be met at all, but brought in by a servant. Sir John is more kind and friendly than he is well-bred.
31. This is the 19th century, remember - no outdoor lighting, no street lights! If people in the country went out at night, they had to hang lamps on their coaches so that they could see the road. It was much easier to travel at night if there was moonlight, and country engagements were generally clustered across the nights of the full moon.
32. That the Dashwoods were already feeling uncomfortable enough in just being hurried into dining with the Middletons, and certainly didn't want to have to cope with meeting more strangers. (They didn't want to go at all, remember, but Sir John's "entreaties were carried to a point of perseverance beyond civility", another sign that he is not very well-bred.)
33. Because Marianne's reaction gives away to the Middletons and Mrs Jennings that they have hit the mark with their teasing, and so Elinor can now expect to get teased even more. Also, Elinor is the last person in the world to want to share her private business with strangers. And ALSO also, she realises that Marianne is still counting on something definite between herself and Edward.
34. Possibly. Women's clothing at the time was made of flimsy materials like muslin and had a lot of trimmings like ribbons and lace, so it wasn't hard to tear. Lady Middleton's maid probably spends a lot of time mending.
35. Very common. In spite of the insistence upon piano-playing as an "accomplishment", many people had no interest in listening to the resulting music, though it was standard to make girls perform of an evening as Marianne does.
36. She was perfectly disposed to make every allowance for the colonel's advanced state of life which humanity required...
There speaks sixteen! :)
"A woman of seven and twenty," said Marianne, after pausing a moment, "can never hope to feel or inspire affection again, and if her home be uncomfortable, or her fortune small, I can suppose that she might bring herself to submit to the offices of a nurse, for the sake of the provision and security of a wife. In his marrying such a woman therefore there would be nothing unsuitable. It would be a compact of convenience, and the world would be satisfied. In my eyes it would be no marriage at all, but that would be nothing. To me it would seem only a commercial exchange, in which each wished to be benefited at the expense of the other."
from the Jane Austen Society of Australia (http://www.jasna.org/info/maps.html) - if you'd like to put the maps at the top of JA tutored threads.
ETA: From London to Devonshire, today, would be a journey of about 4-5 hours, I'm guessing, especially with motorways.
Also, I suppose to be fair to those who don't pay rapt attention when music is being played that it's similar to our habit of speaking and attending to other things when there is music playing in the background. Granted, this is a musician playing live and I guess ought to be treated as a recital, but my guess is it must have been so common to have ladies playing at the piano that people more or less felt it to be background music. Though of course, it's quite another matter when they profess to adore music.
>63 lyzard: Just for the record, we do have Joe among us, and I believe he is very much all Man, despite being an Austenite. ;-)
>64 humouress: Yes well, I'm 44½ and never married, so that makes me an absolute crone of an old maid. For short: a crone maid. That has a scary ring to it, doesn't it?
>65 humouress: Thanks for the map, very helpful!
>63 lyzard: >66 southernbooklady: Yes indeed!
>67 Marissa_Doyle: Yes, I'd asked about the children tearing at the clothes because it occurred to me that ladies' dresses in those days had lots of lace and various trimmings and ribbons which were fragile and this was likely to happen, but I had to ask because saying clothes are torn at isn't always meant literally. Makes them seem even naughtier doesn't it?
Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but I think "garret" refers to parts of an attic that have been made into small (ei,"cramped"), livable rooms. They are usually right under the roof, so the walls slope, the windows are often at or near floor level and sometimes the only place you can stand upright is in the center where the roof is at its highest peak. The are the most unwanted rooms in the house--usually for servants. If you rented a garret in a townhouse, you'd be climbing to the very top of the building. And they often didn't have heat, being located between the house chimneys and thus without fireplaces.
But a large house could have many garrets depending on how much of the space under the length of the roof had been turned into such rooms.
As for Marianne's view of the sort of used up old 27 year old woman who would be appropriate for an ancient, infirm 35 year old man - this does point up the fact of Marianne's age (which is the major and very striking difference from the movie) but also makes me wonder why said ancient 35 year old man wasn't looking at 27 year old women rather than 16 year old babies.
>67 Marissa_Doyle: & >68 Smiler69:
This is why you will always hear of women carrying pins with them. At balls, there were rooms set aside where the maidservants kept sewing kits and pins to make repairs in the event of a dance-floor mishap.
>68 Smiler69: & >70 southernbooklady:
Nicki is quite right about garrets being used as accommodation for servants - and sometimes for children, too, in large families. There are likewise many stories on record about servants having to share their rooms with the family's luggae and other stored goods. How many garrets a house had depended on how big it was and how it was designed: any pokey roof bit could have a separate garret under it.
Yes, it's not just background music. It's also doubly rude when the person playing is a guest.
>68 Smiler69: & >69 jnwelch:
And Paul too! - but Joe and Paul have all the benefits associated with a Y-chromosome - like not having their lives effectively come to an end at twenty-five... :)
Oh, to be only 44½...! :)
There's a specific reason for Colonel Brandon's behaviour, which we will get to presently.
However, we also need to understand the mores of the day. Marianne is seventeen by this point, which means that under normal circumstances (i.e. if the family weren't in mourning and broke) she would be preparing to make her debut - and once a girl was "out", she was considered marriageable. It was common at the time for girls to marry young, and as we've seen they were expected to do so by twenty-five at the latest. It was also common for men not to marry until well into their thirties - unless he was an oldest son, a man generally couldn't afford to marry earlier - so there were frequently age gaps of fifteen or even twenty years between husbands and wives.
"How strange this is! what can be the meaning of it! But the whole of their behaviour to each other has been unaccountable! How cold, how composed were their last adieus! How languid their conversation the last evening of their being together! In Edward's farewell there was no distinction between Elinor and me: it was the good wishes of an affectionate brother to both. Twice did I leave them purposely together in the course of the last morning, and each time did he most unaccountably follow me out of the room. And Elinor, in quitting Norland and Edward, cried not as I did. Even now her self-command is invariable. When is she dejected or melancholy? When does she try to avoid society, or appear restless and dissatisfied in it?"
Because, of course, if you're not dejected and melancholy, and restless and dissatisfied in society, you're not REALLY in love...
It went along with the prevailing view that women needed to be instructed, if not ruled, by a man. This got worse in this respect over the 19th century as the insistence on female innocence / ignorance grew even greater. Even in Austen's day, when people weren't so unrealistic, it was generally taken for granted that a woman would at least need guidance from a more experienced and knowledgeable husband, so an older man was often considered desirable, particularly if the girl was quite young.
Among the lower classes, though, the age of marriage for young women was likely to be upper twenties to thirties as well--they were just as busy trying to put away as much money as possible before marrying, and it was common to be out "on service" as maids in big houses for years before being able to afford to marry. I'm on vacation and away from my research books, but there's been a good deal of published research on marriage in England in the 18th and 19th centuries, mostly because the demographic information we have from parish registers is extensive and makes great thesis material. ;)
37. "Mrs. Jennings was a widow with an ample jointure."
What does this mean?
38. "when its object was understood, she hardly knew whether most to laugh at its absurdity, or censure its impertinence, for she considered it as an unfeeling reflection on the colonel's advanced years, and on his forlorn condition as an old bachelor."
"he is old enough to be MY father; and if he were ever animated enough to be in love, must have long outlived every sensation of the kind. It is too ridiculous! When is a man to be safe from such wit, if age and infirmity will not protect him?"
Poor Colonel Brandon! He certainly takes a beating over and over again doesn't he? I've pulled more quotes of the kind below.
39. "When is she dejected or melancholy? When does she try to avoid society, or appear restless and dissatisfied in it?"
She would have been happy to have me as her sister! :-)
40. "in a manner so frank and so graceful that his person, which was uncommonly handsome,"
then two paragraphs down:
"His manly beauty and more than common gracefulness were instantly the theme of general admiration"
Was gracefulness in a man a quality women looked for in those days? I've rarely seen that adjective used to describe men unless they are ballet dancers or figure skaters!
41. ""Upon my soul," said he, "I do not know much about him as to all THAT. But he is a pleasant, good humoured fellow, and has got the nicest little black bitch of a pointer I ever saw. Was she out with him today?""
Now there's a typical male reaction! Things haven't changed much after all.
42. ""I do not believe," said Mrs. Dashwood, with a good humoured smile, "that Mr. Willoughby will be incommoded by the attempts of either of MY daughters towards what you call CATCHING him. It is not an employment to which they have been brought up. Men are very safe with us, let them be ever so rich. I am glad to find, however, from what you say, that he is a respectable young man, and one whose acquaintance will not be ineligible."
How different from Mrs Bennet! Though ultimately, maybe she isn't so very much unlike her...
43. "Yes; and he was up again at eight to ride to covert."
What does this mean?
44. "and her face was so lovely, that when in the common cant of praise, she was called a beautiful girl, truth was less violently outraged than usually happens."
Love this bit! What does 'cant' mean here?
45. "her favourite authors were brought forward and dwelt upon with so rapturous a delight, that any young man of five and twenty must have been insensible indeed, not to become an immediate convert to the excellence of such works, however disregarded before."
Nothing to add here. It just makes me smile.
46. "But how is your acquaintance to be long supported, under such extraordinary despatch of every subject for discourse? You will soon have exhausted each favourite topic. Another meeting will suffice to explain his sentiments on picturesque beauty, and second marriages, and then you can have nothing farther to ask."—
She is common sense itself. I remember my mother giving me this same speech many times when I described my latest love interest rapturously!
47. "My love," said her mother, "you must not be offended with Elinor—she was only in jest. I should scold her myself, if she were capable of wishing to check the delight of your conversation with our new friend."
Now here is an example of bad mothering. Poor Elinor too!
48. "Her mother too, in whose mind not one speculative thought of their marriage had been raised, by his prospect of riches, was led before the end of a week to hope and expect it; and secretly to congratulate herself on having gained two such sons-in-law as Edward and Willoughby."
As in 42, initially very unlike Mrs Bennet, but ultimately similarly interested.
49. ""But perhaps the abuse of such people as yourself and Marianne will make amends for the regard of Lady Middleton and her mother. If their praise is censure, your censure may be praise, for they are not more undiscerning, than you are prejudiced and unjust."
I must say I found Elinor to be a bore when I first read S&S (just a few years ago), but I can't help but respect her views this time around.
50. "You decide on his imperfections so much in the mass," replied Elinor, "and so much on the strength of your own imagination, that the commendation I am able to give of him is comparatively cold and insipid. I can only pronounce him to be a sensible man, well-bred, well-informed, of gentle address, and, I believe, possessing an amiable heart."
All of which falls on deaf ears of course. Again, poor Elinor! Too bad she isn't in love with the Colonel!
51. "Miss Dashwood," cried Willoughby, "you are now using me unkindly. You are endeavouring to disarm me by reason, and to convince me against my will. But it will not do. You shall find me as stubborn as you can be artful. I have three unanswerable reasons for disliking Colonel Brandon; he threatened me with rain when I wanted it to be fine; he has found fault with the hanging of my curricle, and I cannot persuade him to buy my brown mare. If it will be any satisfaction to you, however, to be told, that I believe his character to be in other respects irreproachable, I am ready to confess it. And in return for an acknowledgment, which must give me some pain, you cannot deny me the privilege of disliking him as much as ever."
Just... perfect. One of my favourite passages to be sure. Also, I must say that on first reading S&S I was perfectly indifferent to Colonel Brandon, as I imagine most readers must be on first approach, since we don't get to know anything about him up to this point, apart from comments made about him, but I must say that this time around I am quite fond of him based precisely on those things which are said on his subject. I must have matured since 2011. :-)
So overall, not many questions, but plenty of discussion points if anyone wants to take them up!
37. Before people got married, "settlements" were made, which means that legal contracts were drawn up to address the dispensation of the money and property involved and who got what under what circumstances. A jointure was a sum of money set aside to go to a women for her to live on in the event that she was widowed. Mrs Jennings has done well in this respect, having "an ample jointure".
Conversely, because of the will of old Mr Dashwood, Henry Dashwood is not able to provide a decent jointure for his widow.
39. Ah, but to really satisfy Marianne, you'd have to be that way because you fell desperately at love at first sight! :)
40. This is "deportment", which I think we discussed in Pride and Prejudice (and Bleak House?). Young people at this time were taught how to move and how to hold themselves from quite an early age: how to sit, how to stand, how to hold their heads and their hands, how to bow and curtsey. They began dancing lessons early too. How someone moved was therefore a sign of good training and good breeding, and it was as important in men (where it was evident in physical activities such as dancing and riding) as it was in women, also there was more emphasis placed on it in women (much more so than on an actual education).
41. Very little, indeed. :)
42. See 48.
43. To go hunting. Coverts were areas of thick scrub where foxes were often found.
44. A commonly used phrase, or a cliche.
46 & 49. How people's opinions shift with different reads at different times is always fascinating. I always sympathised with her because I always felt a bit "on the outer", compared to my sister. :)
47. Mrs Dashwood's indulgence of Marianne is very much an ongoing issue. It is easy to imagine that Elinor has fallen into a habit of saying things she means jokingly, because she knows she won't be listened to seriously.
48. Of course Mrs Dashwood is interested in getting her daughters married. You musn't misjudge this, though: at the time, the whole purpose of a woman's life, if she had daughters, was *supposed* to be to get them well married. A woman who did *not* give great thought to that would be considered a bad mother. It wasn't that which was the issue, it was how a mother went about it that was important. In fact, Mrs Dashwood would be extremely remiss if she was not thinking of it, as she and the girls have been left quite badly off, and if she were to die the girls would have very little to live on (and would probably be forced to live with John and Fanny).
There is a distinction between Mrs Bennet and Mrs Dashwood: Mrs Bennet would have been openly pursuing both Colonel Brandon and Willoughby as soon as she became aware of their financial situations, whereas Mrs Dashwood despises such conduct, which is admirable. Her fault as a mother lies in the other direction: she does not sufficiently consider the possible consequences of allowing Marianne so much freedom of expression and action.
51. In a way this is like the handling of Darcy, in that we tend to see Brandon through other people's eyes. Since Marianne and Willoughby dominate the text so much at this point, it is easy to get swayed by them, even though it is clear that they are both - gasp! - "prejudiced". :)
42, 48 I suspect JA is indulging in a bit of sarcasm, here.
51 You've matured into Elinor instead of being Marianne, then ;0)
52. "Little had Mrs. Dashwood or her daughters imagined when they first came into Devonshire, that so many engagements would arise to occupy their time as shortly presented themselves, or that they should have such frequent invitations and such constant visitors as to leave them little leisure for serious employment. "
I can't imagine what 'serious employment' would be for proper ladies. Surely nothing more taxing than reading, playing the piano, drawing or sewing!
53. "Her admiration and regard, even her sisterly regard, was all his own; but he was a lover; his attentions were wholly Marianne's, and a far less agreeable man might have been more generally pleasing. Colonel Brandon, unfortunately for himself, had no such encouragement to think only of Marianne, and in conversing with Elinor he found the greatest consolation for the indifference of her sister."
I don't understand this sentence.
54. "Without considering that it was not in her mother's plan to keep any horse, that if she were to alter her resolution in favour of this gift, she must buy another for the servant, and keep a servant to ride it"
Why the need for another horse and another servant? So she shouldn't ride alone?
No questions here or comments, other than to say that you've obviously taught me well so far, because not very long ago I would have had all kinds of questions as to why Marianne's outing with Willoughby was thought so ill of by Elinor. But now I know better! :-)
It happens to the best of us! :)
>83 casvelyn: In most respects Marianne are Lydia are quite different cases; Marianne has clearly been given the moral grounding that Lydia missed out on and would never do what Lydia did; but they are alike in that they have been permitted an unusual degree of freedom (which they use differently, according to their different upbringings).
52. Certainly housework and sewing, which might include steady charity work such as making clothing for poor children, and practising their music and drawing; but probably also study. Girls with better education at this time tended to be self-educated. Clearly both Elinor and Marianne are well-read, and from the phrase "serious employment" we might infer that they are reading various non-fiction, and possibly studying languages, in addition to their evident love of poetry.
53. Elinor is lonely (more lonely than usual) because Marianne is absorbed in Willoughby. Elinor likes Willoughby too, as a friend, but he is also absorbed in Marianne and so doesn't spend much time talking to her (Elinor). "A far less agreeable man might have been more generally pleasing" suggests that Willoughby should be spreading himself around a bit more in society (as good manners demand) and also that he is careless, even selfish, in this regard, probably because he's so charming, he's used to being indulged. Colonel Brandon would like a chance to talk to Marianne, but because she gives him few opportunities, he talks to Elinor instead, and is her only real friend at this time.
54. Yes. Girls weren't allowed to ride alone; they had to have a mounted groom to follow in case of accidents and to protect them from any stray men. Nor were girls allowed to ride with only young men for company; a groom would go along then too, assuming the ride was permitted in the first place.
Girls were not supposed to accept gifts from young men they weren't engaged to, especially not expensive ones like a horse. Note that when Elinor overhears the subsequent conversation between Marianne and Willoughby, she assumes they must be secretly engaged.
I'm glad to hear it! :)
"I am afraid," replied Elinor, "that the pleasantness of an employment does not always evince its propriety."
"On the contrary, nothing can be a stronger proof of it, Elinor; for if there had been any real impropriety in what I did, I should have been sensible of it at the time, for we always know when we are acting wrong, and with such a conviction I could have had no pleasure."
This encapsulates the arguments around "sensibility" in a nutshell. For Elinor (and almost certainly Jane Austen), there was a difference between what was pleasant and what was right: throughout her novels we find Austen's heroines giving up pleasures, albeit "with regret", because duty tells them they should. Austen knew that duty was often a hard and thankless task, although also an essential one.
On the other side of the fence, Marianne argues the position of the deists and sentimentalists, that what is pleasant must also be good and right. Had she been doing something wrong, she insists, she would have instinctively felt that it was wrong and therefore have taken no pleasure in it.
We need to appreciate here that Marianne's position is by no means new or unique to herself, but represents a school of thought that was fairly dominant over the preceding three decades and very often expressed in novels published during that time. The shift in mores at this time is evident in the difference in outcome for Marianne, compared with those of many heroines in earlier novels.
This section of the novel is also important because it is one of the places where it is evident that Austen had quite a lot of sympathy with Marianne's views; she just considered them impractical - and dangerous. But when Marianne retorts that, "If the impertinent remarks of Mrs. Jennings are to be the proof of impropriety in conduct, we are all offending every moment of our lives", she clearly has Austen on her side.
It is also an excellent example of Austen's sharp eye for the way we rationalize and justify our actions....turning what we want to do into what we should do. We laughed about it in chapter two when John was talking himself out of giving money he didn't really want to give. But it is also in evidence here. I sometimes get the feeling that Austen found this tendency ubiquitous in society, since every novel seems to be filled with examples of it.
55. "But for this strange kind of secrecy maintained by them relative to their engagement, which in fact concealed nothing at all, she could not account; and it was so wholly contradictory to their general opinions and practice, that a doubt sometimes entered her mind of their being really engaged, and this doubt was enough to prevent her making any inquiry of Marianne."
Am I right in thinking that this shows Marianne and Elinor to have a very different relationship than the two elder Bennet sisters? I understand Elinor doesn't want to offend Marianne in case there is no engagement, because she doesn't want to upset her sister, but at the same time if they were very close wouldn't she still make inquiries?
56. "the distress in which Marianne had quitted the room was such as a serious quarrel could most reasonably account for, though when she considered what Marianne's love for him was, a quarrel seemed almost impossible."
I've never heard of the presence of love being an effective prevention against couples quarrelling! Does this not show how little experience Elinor has in such matters?
57. "But whatever might be the particulars of their separation, her sister's affliction was indubitable; and she thought with the tenderest compassion of that violent sorrow which Marianne was in all probability not merely giving way to as a relief, but feeding and encouraging as a duty."
This seems to be very much a teenage girl thing to do!
58. "but I will listen to no cavil"
What does this mean?
59. "Concealing it from us! my dear child, do you accuse Willoughby and Marianne of concealment? This is strange indeed, when your eyes have been reproaching them every day for incautiousness."
"I want no proof of their affection," said Elinor; "but of their engagement I do."
"I am perfectly satisfied of both."
"Yet not a syllable has been said to you on the subject, by either of them."
So far I've found this pronouncement to be one of the most indicative of what a poor parent she makes.
60. "Marianne would have thought herself very inexcusable had she been able to sleep at all the first night after parting from Willoughby."
Poor thing! Maybe humouress wasn't so far off the mark when she implied I was once like Marianne!
It's passages like this that highlight Austen's position as the fulcrum between the "romantic" novel and the "realist" novel - effectively what she's saying here is that behaviour like Marianne's might be all very well in a novel, but it doesn't work in real life.
55. Yes. They're good sisters in that they get along and love one another, but they're not good friends in the way that Lizzy and Jane are. That degree of mutual confidence isn't there.
There is an awareness of thin ice in all of this. The questions Elinor wants to ask would be resented as an intrusion into Marianne's privacy, and resented even more as implying a doubt of Willoughby's honour (which is exactly what an alarmed Elinor *is* beginning to doubt). She knows the questions should be asked, but if she asks them, it will only cause a quarrel. (Elinor and Marianne certainly have a sisterly relationship in that respect!)
56. No, rather that Marianne is at that point in being in love (or being infatuated) where the other person can do no wrong. Remember these passages from Chapters 10 & 11: Marianne began now to perceive that the desperation which had seized her at sixteen and a half, of ever seeing a man who could satisfy her ideas of perfection, had been rash and unjustifiable... When he was present she had no eyes for any one else. Every thing he did, was right...
57. And so it is. :)
It's also an example of the behaviour expected of people with "sensibility".
58. To cavil is to raise objections, particularly in the sense of looking for grievances. Mrs Dashwood is accusing Elinor of looking for reasons to distrust Willoughby, whereas she is looking for reasons to trust him.
59. And you are quite right. In Chapter 16, Elinor herself criticises her mother for it, and note the language Austen uses here: Elinor thought this generosity overstrained, considering her sister's youth, and urged the matter farther, but in vain; common sense, common care, common prudence, were all sunk in Mrs Dashwood's romantic delicacy.
60. "Why must I be-ee a teenager in lo-ove??" :)
"I want no proof of their affection," said Elinor; "but of their engagement I do."
Note the distinction there: an engagement is the public face of a private agreement.
This comes back to the repeated assertion in Austen's books that people have to compromise to a certain extent with society's demands - how far is one of her major themes - and find a balance between their public and private lives. Often society's demands were unreasonable, yet it was dangerous (especially for young women) to simply ignore them, as Marianne does - and as her mother is also doing.
Willoughby and Marianne have been behaving in a way that can only be justified if they are engaged - to the point where Mrs Dashwood assumes they must be engaged. Elinor (like Lizzy, prepared to think the worst) worries that they are *not*, in spite of the apparent evidence; that in effect Marianne has compromised herself by allowing Willoughby too many liberties. (The lock of hair, in particular, was crossing a line.)
>92 lyzard: To be 'officially' engaged, didn't a young man first have to get permission from the girl's father to propose to her (Mr. Bennet didn't dare refuse Darcy permission), and then have a chat with her mother, too?
So by asking her mother, I assumed Elinor was asking if they had gone through that process and Mrs. Dashwood should then know if / that they were engaged.
ETA: uh-oh. I got the reference straight away. What does that say about me?
>94 humouress: Theoretically, a young man was supposed to ask permission first, but in practice he often spoke to the girl first and asked permission afterwards. However, the girl's 'yes' was provisional and the young man was supposed to speak to her parents ASAP. It is that Marianne and Willoughby *seem* to be engaged but neither of them has said anything that is worrying Elinor; clearly something is wrong.
Marianne was still handsomer. Her form, though not so correct as her sister's, in having the advantage of height, was more striking...
Her skin was very brown...
So, was Marianne or Elinor taller? I think it's Marianne but I'm having a hard time parsing that sentence.
And very brown as in tanned by the sun or very brown as in, not as pale as it should be by the beauty ideals of the time?
Because when I read "very brown," I think Hispanic or black. And I'm quite sure she was neither.
It's not hard to imagine why an older man might feel drawn to a younger woman! :)
It's easy to read too much into it, of course, but I've always given Austen points for not succumbing to what must have been a temptation to match up sober, mature Elinor with sober, mature Colonel Brandon.
We tend to think of her books as illustrations of mis-matched couples, (Mr. and Mrs. Bennett, Charlotte and Mr. Collins), but she does not eschew the possibility of genuine attachment in couples that might look strange to outsiders.
I think sincerity of feeling and genuine regard are more important to her than a sameness of temperament.
Marianne is a brunette and probably has what we would call olive skin rather than the very white skin that was considered desirable in young women. She is very attractive in an unusual way, since she breaks all of the contemporary "rules" for what a pretty girl was supposed to look like (usually summed up in novels as "pink-and-white").
>97 Smiler69: I don't think 1970s TV studio lights did anyone any favours!
>98 Citizenjoyce: Well, we need to be careful about placing blame. As Ilana has been highlighting, much of this comes back to Mrs Dashwood's lack of appropriate parenting. Mrs Dashwood gives more weight to private emotions than to public responsibilities, and this is the philosophy she has taught Marianne, too. Marianne herself sees nothing wrong in her own behaviour, and (as per 56.) she believes that anything Willoughby does must be right. Mrs Dashwood should never have allowed things to progress to this point without intervening.
We must be clear, too, that Marianne has not done anything morally wrong; but she's flirting with disaster by ignoring society's expectations.
>100 southernbooklady: I think this is where the incorrect view of Austen as a writer of "just romances" really makes itself felt. I find that people really struggle with Sense And Sensibility because none of its relationships (either who or how) work out how they expect; it makes them uncomfortable. But as usual, she's really analysing her society, its functioning, and how young women can best survive in it. This is, along with Mansfield Park, the least conventionally "romantic" of Austen's novels - she barely sugar coats her bitter pill here - and possibly reaction in this respect may have led her to make Pride And Prejudice more "light and bright and sparkling", as she famously criticised it for being.
I thought being tall wasn't a good thing.
Sense and Sensibility is not my favorite Austen novel, but it's more of a plot thing. I kind of adore Austen for this, though. She doesn't let the reader get away with any of their fantasies about "true love" intact.
May I just indulge in an uncharacteristic (for either Jane Austen or me) gushy moment? I'm just so happy your tutorials Liz have helped me to understand and appreciate her work. So far, revisiting S&S has been a real pleasure and I'm finding that after my major breakthrough with P&P, I'm reading it with very different eyes. However, it might mean I'll have less questions for you too, but I'll keep posting quotes that jump out at me to keep feeding discussions here because I'm loving everybody's input!
Nope, don't want to. Colonel Brandon seems to be like those misogynistic American men who "get themselves" a Filipino wife thinking they'll get a women who knows her place in life is to cater to a man and make him happy. It always gives me a little thrill when they find out they've got more than they bargained for. With Marianne Colonel Brandon seems to want the perpetual child who needs to be cared for. I think he's right, but I still don't like it.
If Colonel Brandon were really this kind of man, would Elinor and he have developed such a good friendship and high regard for each other?
Obviously, I'm not a member of the Jane Austin fan club, but I'm here, trying to learn about her anyway.
But Austen is not a historical novelist, she is contemporary to the era. She is not undertaking to show "how life was" for every class of Briton. She is showing how life is for women of her class.
She writes of what she knows. But I can't fault her for it.
>103 southernbooklady: I agree!
>104 Smiler69: Please gush away, Ilana - that's very nice to hear. :)
>105 Citizenjoyce: Can't help you there, Joyce! - reality is what's on the table. To the point where, when Austen does tamper with it a bit to bring about a happy ending of sorts, she's generally harshly criticised.
I think you're over-reading Colonel Brandon, at least at this point in the novel, inasmuch as we have barely heard a word from the man himself, merely other people's interpretations of his actions. Yes, he has shown himself attracted to Marianne. Beyond that we have no idea what he's thinking at the moment.
>109 Citizenjoyce: I remain disappointed in her lack of showing alternate possibilities.
At the beginning of the 19th century women had very few options and next to no control over their own lives. They could get married, remain in perpetuity dependent on their parents or brothers, or step out of "respectable" life by finding work as a governess or companion. That was it.
And this is the reality of Austen's work: her novels deal with young women trying to do the best they can, in whatever circumstances external forces have placed them.
I just expect more than common practice from someone so revered
She's revered as a writer, not as a crusading liberal and social reformer. She's revered because she brought the English novel out of a tendency towards absurd romanticism into a new period of reality and showed how the novel could be a vehicle for serious reflection upon the practices of common life, and because of her understanding of human nature.
But in any event, it is hardly fair to judge anyone on what they *don't* include in their novels - which you could do about any writer in history, and about any novel in history. I don't see how choosing not to divert into reflections upon the position of servants, or any other serious social issue of the time, indicates "disdain" (and as I said re: Pride And Prejudice, if you judge novels on that basis, you'll dismiss about 300 years of literary history). Such omissions do not reflect Austen's own position on anything, merely her sense of what was artistically fitting for the kind of novel she chose to write - and (to be practical) what she could get published.
You seem to me to be intent on finding reasons not to be won over by Austen - and of course, you're perfectly within your rights not to like or admire her work. But I think that judgement should be made on the basis of what her books are, and not what are not.
And in Austen's time, such a novel wouldn't have been realistic. There are some earlier, much more "romantic" novels that have women living alone in isolated castles in the middle of nowhere, and so on, but an independent life in "the real world" wasn't imaginable even for the most "romantic" novelists.
As I've said before, there really was no such thing as an independent life for a woman, even if she had a reasonable income. Single women of any age were expected to stay within their immediate family and usually did. Independent living, of the kind you are imagining, wasn't a genuine option for women until much later in the century.
Writing was a bit of a two-edged sword for women at the time. It was one of the very few ways they could earn money and was socially permitted because it was work that could be done without leaving the home, but there was a prevailing disapproval of it and often an assumption that if a woman had time to write she was neglecting her household duties. Many critics were very harsh towards female authors, and many novels written around this time are prefaced by abject apologies for the "presumption" involved in writing a novel and in the first place assurances that it was written "in the few moments snatched from my real and important duties" (or some such). In any case, women writers stayed firmly within their families.
Austen herself was an unmarried daughter and behaved accordingly, which meant that she lived how and where her parents dictated, and had household duties she was expected to perform. She was lucky in that her family was supportive of her writing, but she was never independent, either personally or financially. Her earnings may have relieved the burden a bit, but she certainly never supported her family: towards the end of her life she calculated that she made a profit of 600 pounds from the four novels then in print. She (along with her mother and sister) were dependent on her brothers; there was a bankruptcy in 1817 that caused severe financial difficulties, and the related stress is believed to have accelerated Austen's death.
Austen's publishing career only lasted six years; she published Sense And Sensibility in 1811, when she was 36, followed it with Pride And Prejudice, Mansfield Park and Emma, and died at the age of 42 in 1817. Her brother saw to the publication of Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. As always, dying was a good move for an artist: her family got more from her residuals that Austen earned while alive.
Austen's unfinished manuscripts show that she was experimenting with different sorts of novels, so who knows where her career might have gone if she had lived longer? As it is, she stands as an arch-realist.
Perhaps supremely wealthy aristocratic widows could have what we might consider 'independent lives' nowadays, and only relatively speaking, and I'm thinking here of the example the Marquise de Merteuil in Les liaisons dangereuses, a purely fictional character, I hasten to add, and even she, though she took on many lovers and did much as she pleased, had to do so in utmost secrecy and lead very much a double life and present herself to the world as a proper and pious woman so she would not be shunned by society.
Comments on chapters 17-19 coming next.
61. "I have no wish to be distinguished; and have every reason to hope I never shall. Thank Heaven! I cannot be forced into genius and eloquence."
What is Austen trying to tell us here about Edward and the expectations placed on young men in his position?
62. "Elinor, for shame!" said Marianne, "money can only give happiness where there is nothing else to give it. Beyond a competence, it can afford no real satisfaction, as far as mere self is concerned."
What is a competence? A revenue, I presume, but is it a specific kind of revenue... from an inheritance for instance?
63. "Elinor smiled again, to hear her sister describing so accurately their future expenses at Combe Magna."
I'm surprised she allows herself this thought, considering she is so uncertain about what passed between Marianne and Willoughby, and even doubts they are engaged.
64. "You, Miss Dashwood, would give a general commission for every new print of merit to be sent you"
I know what this means, but I'm not sure I understand how these prints were made available to the public. Not sure I'm even formulating my question correctly.
65. "Undoubtedly. At my time of life opinions are tolerably fixed. It is not likely that I should now see or hear any thing to change them."
Again, so clearly spoken by a teenager. The concept of teens as we know it today didn't exist then I know, but the hormonal changes seem to have always had similar effects on the attitudes of young ones! Though then again, these words might have been spoken by and elderly woman too!
66. "I have frequently detected myself in such kind of mistakes," said Elinor, "in a total misapprehension of character in some point or other: fancying people so much more gay or grave, or ingenious or stupid than they really are, and I can hardly tell why or in what the deception originated. Sometimes one is guided by what they say of themselves, and very frequently by what other people say of them, without giving oneself time to deliberate and judge."
"But I thought it was right, Elinor," said Marianne, "to be guided wholly by the opinion of other people. I thought our judgments were given us merely to be subservient to those of neighbours. This has always been your doctrine, I am sure."
This whole exchange on their characters, which begins a bit earlier and continues till the end of the chapter reminds me very much of the discussion between Darcy, Elizabeth and Colonel Fitzwilliam when she is playing the piano at Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and for some reason makes me equally uneasy. Did people really discuss their personalities openly like this in those days?
67. There is talk here of Edward being spotted by Marianne wearing a ring containing lady's hair. I know that hair was often a prized memento in the 19th century (and earlier, I assume?), even being made into artwork, and I wonder where that custom came from. Seems odd somehow, and I don't think this is still in practice today is it? I won't ask whether the hair in question really is Elinor's (can't remember), as I'm sure we'll find out eventually.
68. "I think, Edward," said Mrs. Dashwood, as they were at breakfast the last morning, "you would be a happier man if you had any profession to engage your time and give an interest to your plans and actions."
I'm confused about this whole exchange about Edward needing some kind of employment. I thought gentlemen having a profession in those days was looked down upon?
69. "The consequence of which, I suppose, will be," said Mrs. Dashwood, "since leisure has not promoted your own happiness, that your sons will be brought up to as many pursuits, employments, professions, and trades as Columella's."
Who was Columella?
70. "Elinor sat down to her drawing-table as soon as he was out of the house, busily employed herself the whole day, neither sought nor avoided the mention of his name, appeared to interest herself almost as much as ever in the general concerns of the family, and if, by this conduct, she did not lessen her own grief, it was at least prevented from unnecessary increase, and her mother and sisters were spared much solicitude on her account."
Here we see another marked contrast between the two elder sisters. But who is JA poking fun at in the last bit?
71. "Such behaviour as this, so exactly the reverse of her own, appeared no more meritorious to Marianne, than her own had seemed faulty to her. The business of self-command she settled very easily;—with strong affections it was impossible, with calm ones it could have no merit. That her sister's affections WERE calm, she dared not deny, though she blushed to acknowledge it; and of the strength of her own, she gave a very striking proof, by still loving and respecting that sister, in spite of this mortifying conviction."
I think I understand what the general message is here, but I'm a bit confused by the specifics. What is she blushing to acknowledge?
72. The whole bit when the Middletons arrive with the Palmers to visit the women at the cottage, with Sir John Middleton and Mrs Jennings talking to Elinor at the window had me baffled this time and the first time I read S&S. It all seems quite theatrical somehow. And also, what point is JA trying to make here? Yet another example of what bad manners they have?
73. "This was quite a new idea to Mrs. Dashwood; she had never been used to find wit in the inattention of any one, and could not help looking with surprise at them both."
No indeed! Mr Palmer's behaviour is intolerable!
74. "Lady Middleton could no longer endure such a conversation, and therefore exerted herself to ask Mr. Palmer if there was any news in the paper.
"No, none at all," he replied, and read on."
a) I remember asking you about whether it was considered proper in that time to talk of pregnancy, and you said in pre-Victorian days it wasn't a taboo as it later became, so what is Lady Middleton objecting to here?
b) She really sets herself up with such a stupid question.
c) He almost goes out of his way to be rude. There was an interesting observation on the Palmers in the Everyman's Library introduction. Will have to get my hands on it later, can barely keep my eyes open any longer!
61. There were only a few ways in which a young man could become "distinguished" (i.e. famous in his line of work). Politics were one; as a successful barrister was another. Both of these required "eloquence" at least (and preferably "genius", though that was less essential!). Since Edward has no natural talent in this direction, he is safe from his family trying to force him into two careers that he does not want.
The narrow career limits for young men at the time is a recurrent theme, as we have noted before.
62. "Competence" means a sufficient sum on which to live comfortably, without financial worries; anything beyond that was "wealth". Note, however, that there could be very different ideas about how much money you needed to have a "competence".
63. From Marianne's calm assumption that her future will be at Combe Magna, Elinor in turn assumes that things must really be all right, even if they don't always look it.
64. At the beginning of the 19th century, lithography became a popular visual art and there were shops that specialised in the production of prints done by this and other methods. It was a new form of "mass production" and controversial amongst artists but it made prints widely available to a public that couldn't afford quality art.
Marianne is the musician in the family; Elinor is the visual artist. Both seem to take their talents seriously, and this probably would have constituted some of the "serious employment" you asked about earlier.
66. We know from correspondence of the time that this sort of character analysis was not uncommon, though I suppose we don't know if it was so common for people to dissect themselves in conversation.
It is indeed another important exchange, not least because it alludes to Elinor's thankless task of keeping up the civilities in the family's social exchanges, which Marianne neglects to the point of rudeness (note in Chapter 19, Sir John actually asks if Marianne has run away upon seeing the Middletons coming; so she's not very subtle about it!):
"You have not been able to bring your sister over to your plan of general civility," said Edward to Elinor, "Do you gain no ground?"
"Quite the contrary," replied Elinor, looking expressively at Marianne.
"My judgment," he returned, "is all on your side of the question; but I am afraid my practice is much more on your sister's. I never wish to offend, but I am so foolishly shy, that I often seem negligent, when I am only kept back by my natural awkwardness..."
67. I think hair was considered personal but not TOO personal. It was a common practice at the time for mementoes of this kind to be given. Usually the hair would be made into a tiny plait, and then this would be set into a ring. Rings of this kind were often a "going away" present, for example if a young man joined the army or went into business in India or even emigrated, he might be given a ring containing the hair of his siblings. More gruesomely (at least to our tastes), rings were made of the hair of someone who died, and given as keepsakes.
68. To earn money, yes; not so much as a kind of hobby, as Mrs Dashwood is suggesting. Edward is an oldest son, but there does not seem to be an estate in the family with which he might occupy himself. He does not need to work financially (at least in the sense that there is money in the family), but since his mother won't assist him to the only career he wants, he is left with nothing to do at all.
69. The reference is to a novel called Columella; or, The Distressed Anchoret by Richard Graves, in which Columella the anchoret (someone who shuns society and lives in seclusion) learns from his own life that occupation is necessary to happiness, and makes certain that his sons all have a profession to follow.
70. It's comparing Elinor's quiet calm to Marianne's extravagant grief when Willoughby went away, which demanded attention from her mother and sisters. Elinor in contrast shuns rather than courts such attention, not least so they are not themselves upset.
71. That she has a sister with calm affections: Marianne views her own "strong" (and by definition uncontrollable) affections as something to be proud of, and conversely Elinor's "calm" affections as something to be ashamed of; barely "real" feelings at all. But she then assures us that she still loves Elinor in spite of this terrible blemish. :)
72. It is - as soon as Sir John perceived her, he left the rest of the party to the ceremony of knocking at the door, and stepping across the turf, obliged her to open the casement to speak to him - and also comical in that Elinor ends up trying to be properly polite to two different sets of people in two locations at the same time. On the other hand, she has yet again been left to meet all the family's civil obligations on her own, which isn't so funny.
73. It's one of those things that's funny at a safe distance, but not when you have to live with it!
(a) It wasn't as taboo as it later became, but it wasn't really an appropriate topic for conversation amongst strangers, either.
(b) But he must have understood why she was trying to change the subject, and should have helped.
(c) Not "almost"! :)
Elinor was not inclined, after a little observation, to give him credit for being so genuinely and unaffectedly ill-natured or ill-bred as he wished to appear. His temper might perhaps be a little soured by finding, like many others of his sex, that through some unaccountable bias in favour of beauty, he was the husband of a very silly woman,—but she knew that this kind of blunder was too common for any sensible man to be lastingly hurt by it...
Volume 1, Chapters 20 & 21
75. In trying to convince the girls to visit them in London, Mrs Palmer offers them to be their chaperone during their visit. But how can she expect to take them out and about when she's in confinement? I write this and wonder if I should even ask, because there is plenty of evidence throughout the rest of the chapter of what a supremely silly woman she is; logic is clearly not her forte, to put it mildly!
76. "Did not I tell you, Sir John, when you spoke to me about it before, that it could not be done? They dined with us last."
This must be referring to a social convention I'm not familiar with.
77. "Did not Colonel Brandon know of Sir John's proposal to your mother before it was made? Had he never owned his affection to yourself?"
Ok, so I 'got' the incident where Mrs Palmer claims Colonel Brandon has told her about the supposed upcoming nuptials of Marianne, only to reveal that she attributed to him words that she put in his mouth, and I'm assuming this incident she speaks of is a similar sort of thing, but this little bit has me stymied.
Here we discover just how bad lady Middleton is as a mother!
78. "With such a reward for her tears, the child was too wise to cease crying."
Between her brothers acting like monkeys on crack and her being such a brat, I don't know how the Miss Steeles can pretend to like those little monsters!
79. "I confess," replied Elinor, "that while I am at Barton Park, I never think of tame and quiet children with any abhorrence."
How shocking! Our sensible (as in well bred and polite) Elinor has allowed herself to make an almost rude observation! A well deserved one, goes without saying!
80. "But perhaps you young ladies may not care about the beaux, and had as lief be without them as with them."
What does 'lief' mean? I don't believe this word is still in use, is it?
There. Keeping it very short tonight, could barely keep my eyes open to read those two chapters, however entertaining they were!
75. You're right, she's just saying anything she thinks will persuade them; but she does at least add "at any time till I am confined".
76. Social engagements such as dining were generally kept alternately - you dined out, then you invited your hosts to dine with you. The Gilberts last dined with the Middletons, therefore the Middletons cannot invite the Gilberts again. This was the correct formal arrangement, which could vary according to how close the parties in question were - or (in the case of Sir john) how ill-bred one of the hosts. :)
77. Yes, Elinor realises that again, Charlotte has put completely her own spin on events. Reading through Charlotte's blather we see that nothing was actually said on the subject beyond a hint from Sir John to Mrs Jennings. There is nothing to suggest that the Colonel had any such idea.
78. The Miss Steeles are both financially poor and poorly connected, and just barely hang on to respectability by ingratiating themselves with people in more comfortable circumstances. Lucy in particular has been quick to realise that the way to keep Lady Middleton's favour is to pamper and coo over the children. It's not too high a price to pay for free room and board.
79. It's a fine line between rudeness and honesty. :)
80. "As lief" means "as happily" or "as willingly". It's not much used any more but you still hear it occasionally.
And yet you sympathise with Marianne's position, too:
Marianne was silent; it was impossible for her to say what she did not feel, however trivial the occasion; and upon Elinor therefore the whole task of telling lies when politeness required it, always fell.
Secondly, in Chapter 21 one of the Miss Steels (I think) says "Lord! Anne..." was such language considered proper for women at that time. I know Americans tend to be hyper religious, and my sister, being an evangelical Christian, is probably more hyper religious than many; but she would never use the word Lord unless she were referring to god in a religious way.
So, I guess I want another look at religion at the time.
At that time families were getting larger and children were fairly ubiquitous, so like them or dislike them you were likely to spend quite a lot of time around them. Austen herself came from a large family and seemed to have affectionate memories of her siblings. Later, being a maiden aunt, she spent a lot of time helping out her sisters-in-law and looking after her nephews and nieces.
The Miss Steeles are vulgar and underbred, and speaking in that manner is one sign of it. Women certainly were not supposed to use language like that, but doing so was mostly a poor social form rather than a religious transgression. Such casual expressions amongst men were not uncommon, however.
I've always had the impression that being hyper anything was considered vulgar and in poor form in Jane Austen's Britain. You can be interested, but not obsessed. Engaged, but not excessively so. Matters of faith, like matters of courtship, had their time and their place and it did not do to let your religious feelings get out of hand.
There was a significant and increasing class component to all this too, which had precious little to do with religion. The more evangelical branches of the church tended to attract the working classes, particularly the urban / manufacturing classes, who felt that there was no proper place for them within the established church.
Thus we have badly behaved, unlikeable children in Sense And Sensibility and Persuasion, and well-behaved, likeable children in Northanger Abbey and Emma - in fact at various points we hear quite a lot about the Knightly children.
It's also reflective of Austen's own position that we often see the children interacting with an aunt: Aunt Jane in Pride And Prejudice, Aunt Emma (and also Uncle George) in Emma and Aunt Anne in Persuasion.
Volume 2, Chapters 1 & 2
81. "These difficulties, indeed, with a heart so alienated from Lucy, might not press very hard upon his patience; but melancholy was the state of the person by whom the expectation of family opposition and unkindness, could be felt as a relief!"
My understanding here is that Elinor believes Edward not to be in love with Lucy and is actually hoping for opposition from his family, correct? Why is Elinor so certain that he doesn't love Lucy?
82. What is a fillagree basket?
83. "Their favour increased; they could not be spared; Sir John would not hear of their going; and in spite of their numerous and long arranged engagements in Exeter, in spite of the absolute necessity of returning to fulfill them immediately, which was in full force at the end of every week, they were prevailed on to stay nearly two months at the park, and to assist in the due celebration of that festival which requires a more than ordinary share of private balls and large dinners to proclaim its importance."
Which festival is this?
Volume 2, Chapter 1
81. Because she's met Lucy? :)
Yes, sadly, the most that Edward has to hope for is that he will never be able to fulfil his engagement - the suggestion being that Lucy will get sick of waiting and latch onto any other chance that comes by.
Elinor isn't certain, but she has good reason to believe Edward does not love Lucy - partly her knowledge of his character, partly his behaviour towards herself. More practically, when he came to them after visiting Lucy, he was profoundly depressed and obviously disgusted with himself. That hardly argues a man in love and happy with his engagement. Also, reading Lucy correctly, Elinor realises that if she was as confident as she claims to be, she would never have said a word. It's to frighten off Elinor that she speaks.
82. Real filigree is delicate metal-work. What we're talking about here is a craft involving paper which is still done today and usually called "quilling", which involves coloured paper being twisted into shapes and glued onto other objects, or rolled up into tubes which fill gaps and make patterns. (That's a very crude description!)
Done seriously and correctly, this was another prized "accomplishment" of the 18th and 19th century, but it seems that the basket that Lucy is making for Annamaria is more of a pretty toy.
Who read Jane Austin's books? I can see people of the class depicted in the book would react to the poor grammar the same way I did, but did people with less education also enjoy her?
ETA would anyone have taken the sisters aside and tried to help them with their grammar?
Volume 2, Chapter 2 / Chapter 24
83. Christmas. :)
>132 Morphidae: Thank you, Morphy! I imagine that's a lot more elaborate than the one that Lucy was making, but we can see why Elinor doesn't think the project will get finished without help, and why the help she offers is "rolling papers".
>133 southernbooklady: That's lovely, Nicki! Didn't realise we had an expert in our midst. :)
>134 Citizenjoyce: As far as language goes, Joyce, I think many places are rather casual / careless in that respect. Certainly my neck of the woods is, for one.
Novel-reading at this time was a activity for the middle-classes and up, although general literacy was improving across all classes. There was still some lingering disapproval of young women reading novels, partly because it was assumed that they must be neglecting their duties if they had time for it, and partly because novels were supposed to be corrupting (and young women were weak-minded and easily influenced, of course). The firm morality underlying Austen's books and her views on correct conduct would have helped them find acceptance - and, as we've said, her novels reflect the reality of the day. If someone like Lucy Steele read one of them, they might have taken a hint. :)
The Steeles' education has been neglected; as we discussed re: Pride And Prejudice, education for girls often was, as it was not considered all that important. I don't imagine the girls themselves would be particularly worried about it, since it doesn't seem to be hampering them in their social ambitions, nor has it stopped Lucy "catching" Edward, and on the contrary, I think any offer to help would likely be resented as condescending.
>135 Nickelini: So who do we think got the worst of that arrangement??
Delores Umbridge is the spawn of Satan. And in the movie I always felt sorry for Mr Palmer. So not much competition there.
Ew! indeed. House is Satan? I guess I didn't watch enough episodes of that show to pick up on that. (We stopped after about 5 when the pattern seemed too predictable . . . . oh, there are 20 minutes left in the show, so that can't be the explanation, and besides, House didn't come up with it . . . )
Sorry to distract from the Austen conversation.
Somebody suggested above that Mr. and Mrs. Palmer as early versions of Mr. and Mrs. Bennett. I know it is dangerous to draw too many connections between novels--writers don't create in the linear way that we readers experience the results of their work. But I do think that from a literary standpoint Sense and Sensibility is an immature work, where Austen's writing is less smooth, less assured, a little less confident. Plausibility is sometimes sacrificed to make things work out the way she wants. Characters are a little less complex, their faults and foibles a little more front-and-center, than is to be found in her later books. She teeters on the edge of caricature in places. (In Fanny, Brandon and Willoughby, she may fall right into it).
Her humor and her sharp observations carry the story where the writing falters, so I can't say I don't like the book. But I'm always conscious that Austen was taking her first steps into territory that later one she will thoroughly master.
>145 Marissa_Doyle: Okay, that's just perverse. :)
I covered 5 chapters today, but have few questions, which is one of the reasons I kept going.
Volume 2, Chapters 3 to 7
84. "Mrs. Jennings on her side treated them both with all possible kindness, was solicitous on every occasion for their ease and enjoyment, and only disturbed that she could not make them choose their own dinners at the inn, nor extort a confession of their preferring salmon to cod, or boiled fowls to veal cutlets."
Are the girls not specifying their preferences out of mere politeness, or what?
85. "Elinor thought she could distinguish a large W in the direction; and no sooner was it complete than Marianne, ringing the bell, requested the footman who answered it to get that letter conveyed for her to the two-penny post. This decided the matter at once."
What is so telling about the two-penny post being used?
86. "I came to inquire, but I was convinced before I could ask the question. Is every thing finally settled? Is it impossible to-? But I have no right, and I could have no chance of succeeding. Excuse me, Miss Dashwood. I believe I have been wrong in saying so much, but I hardly know what to do, and on your prudence I have the strongest dependence. Tell me that it is all absolutely resolved on, that any attempt, that in short concealment, if concealment be possible, is all that remains."
Is he actually admitting to his feelings here and suggesting he was prepared to make a proposal? The poor man really has very little to go on. After all, I don't believe he and Marianne have exchanged two whole sentences since they've met!
87. "Tell me that it is all absolutely resolved on, that any attempt, that in short concealment, if concealment be possible, is all that remains."
By concealment, does he mean concealment of his own emotions?
88. "Her face was crimsoned over, and she exclaimed, in a voice of the greatest emotion, "Good God! Willoughby, what is the meaning of this? Have you not received my letters? Will you not shake hands with me?"
After all you've taught us about how ladies were expected to behave, and especially with men before they were engaged, I was really forcibly struck here but just how outrageously Marianne is behaving here, and in public, at a ball, no less! Incidentally, something that completely escaped me upon first reading this novel.
89. "Marianne was in a silent agony, too much oppressed even for tears; but as Mrs. Jennings was luckily not come home, they could go directly to their own room, where hartshorn restored her a little to herself.
What is hartshorn?
90. A general question now: why was it forbidden for a man and woman to have a written correspondence unless they were engaged?
84. They are declining to put their preferences ahead of hers, as she is both their hostess and a much older woman. Young people were supposed to give way (even when invited to do otherwise).
85. It was for letters delivered within the London area. This tells Elinor that the letter is written to someone already in London, not to their mother (as she thought when Marianne first started writing).
Volume 2, Chapter 5 / Chapter 27
86. I doubt he would have worked himself up to a proposal, but he might have admitted his feelings to Elinor. :)
It can be sometimes hard to judge how much direct contact people have had in Austen, as she likes indirect reporting, and rarely includes conversations just for the sake of it.
87. Yes. He knows he's given himself away to Elinor, but supposes (rightly, poor man!) that Marianne doesn't know.
Volume 2, Chapter 6 / Chapter 28
88. Outrageously, yes, but most of all unwisely. To make a sweeping generalisation, it was to avoid scenes like this that girls were advised to keep their feelings to themselves. Not only is she a woman scorned, the whole world knows it.
89. Smelling salts, containing ammonia extracted from deer (hart) horn.
90. It was forbidden for men and women to do just about anything until they were engaged, and sometimes even then. This was one of the difficulties about marriage: often you only had the chance to know one another properly when it was too late.
Correspondence was a particularly fraught area, though---at least for women. It was viewed as an evasion of authority, or like having a clandestine relationship.
There was very little privacy at this time---to the extent that it was completely acceptable for a husband to open his wife's letters, or a parent their child's (at least, their daughter's) letters.
Girls' lives were usually controlled to an extent that their parents knew every facet of it; a secret correspondence - and ordinarily it would have to be secret - was an act of rebellion. It challenged the parents' position. It was also viewed as signalling to the man that the girl was not necessarily a "good girl".
However, once an engagement was formalised, letter-writing was usually permitted; in the same way that the young couple would usually be allowed to spend time alone together. This rule was so accepted that both Mrs Dashwood and Marianne conclude there must be an engagement, if Willoughby and Marianne are corresponding.
Sorry, Ilana! I'll explain quickly - the picture is from the film Sense and Sensibility that stars Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman. It also stars these two actors as Mr and Mrs Palmer--and they're very good, in my opinion. But it's funny because most people know Imelda Staunton better from playing the evil Delores Umbridge in the Harry Potter movies (my daughter describes her as "an evil sweet grandmother") and Hugh Laurie is better known for a lot of things, but lately he's starred as a character named Dr Gregory House on a TV show called House. He may or may not be evil, depending on who you ask ;-)
A lot of these stars act in movies together, so it's fun to see their combinations (for example, tonight my husband was watching Love Actually where Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant are siblings, and she is married to Alan Rickman -- but because I'm reading Sense and Sensibility and I've seen the film so many times, I just saw them as Elinor and Colonel Brandon. )
I guess that wasn't so brief. Oops.
>150 Nickelini: Now I understand! Thanks for the explanation Joyce. I did watch House for a time, so know all about Hugh Laurie's character there and must say casting him as Mr Palmer sounds just perfect! I'm not sure I've seen any adaptations of S&S because around the time this one you mention came out, I was pretty well allergic to anything to do with Jane Austen and romantic comedy movies. I've seen scenes here and there, because they've been impossible to avoid somehow, but I'll have to borrow it from the library when we're done with the tutorial.
Yes, you're right. She even won an Oscar for "Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published".
I've seen the movie too many times to count and I love it and the actors, but their ages really mess me up when it comes to reading the book! Elinor is supposed to be 19 and Emma Thompson was 36 when the film came out. Alan Rickman is supposed to be just past 35 and he was 49. (and for the record, Kate Winslet was 20, Hugh Grant 35, and Greg Wise was 29).
>155 Morphidae: That's interesting Morphy. I'll have to read that article more closely.
Volume 2, Chapters 8 & 9
91. "Mrs. Taylor told me of it half an hour ago, and she was told it by a particular friend of Miss Grey herself, else I am sure I should not have believed it; and I was almost ready to sink as it was."
What does that last part mean?
92. "Well, poor thing! I won't disturb her any longer, for she had better have her cry out at once and have done with. The Parrys and Sandersons luckily are coming tonight you know, and that will amuse her."
How very little Mrs Jennings understands Marianne!
93. "Let her name her own supper, and go to bed."
Does she mean let her decide when she wants to have it? I'm sure I've asked before, but I always find the question of mealtimes in those days very confusing. Would you mind breaking it down for me again in terms of what sorts of foods and quantities were taken, at what times of the day?
94. "I must do THIS justice to Mr. Willoughby—he has broken no positive engagement with my sister."
I don't begin to understand why Elinor feels she needs to do him any justice at all, especially as he's so utterly undeserving and it exposes Marianne further (and rather yet more unfavourably), and adds to the gossip in the process.
95. "Lord! how Charlotte and I did stuff the only time we were there!"
96. "One shoulder of mutton, you know, drives another down."
What does that expression mean?
97. What is Constantia wine?
98. "Elinor, as she swallowed the chief of it, reflected, that though its effects on a colicky gout were, at present, of little importance to her, its healing powers, on a disappointed heart might be as reasonably tried on herself as on her sister."
(Once again) Poor Elinor! While her sister is in hysterical grief, here she is quietly suffering just the same and unnoticed by everyone!
99. "Mrs. Jennings, who had watched them with pleasure while they were talking, and who expected to see the effect of Miss Dashwood's communication, in such an instantaneous gaiety on Colonel Brandon's side, as might have become a man in the bloom of youth, of hope and happiness, saw him, with amazement, remain the whole evening more serious and thoughtful than usual."
She really has no understanding at all of human nature, does she? In fact, she's just as stupid in that way as her daughter Mrs Palmer!
100. " In one moment her imagination placed before her a letter from Willoughby, full of tenderness and contrition, explanatory of all that had passed, satisfactory, convincing; and instantly followed by Willoughby himself, rushing eagerly into the room to inforce, at her feet, by the eloquence of his eyes, the assurances of his letter."
Ah! Here it is! The moment of pure Melodrama! This is the kind of thing every young girl has read about in novels and wished to come true. I think JA probably had rather wicked fun with this passage.
101. "My brother had no regard for her; his pleasures were not what they ought to have been, and from the first he treated her unkindly."
I'm not sure how to interpret this. He was cheating on her? He was cheating on her with men maybe?
102. "Her legal allowance was not adequate to her fortune, nor sufficient for her comfortable maintenance, and I learnt from my brother that the power of receiving it had been made over some months before to another person. He imagined, and calmly could he imagine it, that her extravagance, and consequent distress, had obliged her to dispose of it for some immediate relief."
Please explain this.
103. What is a spunging-house?
104. I'd forgotten all about Colonel Brandon's sad tale involving Willoughby. Very similar to Wyckham's attempted elopement with Miss Darcy, had things gone as he wished (although he did want to marry her for her fortune). I can't at all recall now whether Willoughby truly is the villain he seems to be at this point in the story, especially as my introduction (Everyman's Library) has a passing comment on how sad it is that Marianne and he (possible)
91. That the news was so crushing she could barely keep standing up. (An exaggeration, obviously, but a common way of describing someone's reaction to news that was shocking or something personally mortifying.)
92. See 99.
93. No, in this case (since Mrs Jennings has been trying to tempt her with all sorts of treats) it probably means that Marianne can have anything she likes to eat.
There was a lot of variance in mealtimes between the city and the country, and also between the classes; times were generally dictated by where you were, and whether the man of the house worked or not. Briefly, city / upper class people tended to do everything later - get up, have breakfast, have their main meal, go out at night, etc. Overall, breakfast could be anywhere from 8.00am - 11.00am, depending on what else people had to do. "Dinner" was the main meal of the day, but it might be served in the afternoon (which was common in the country) or in the evening (which was more typical in the city). If dinner was served in the afternoon there might be "supper" at night; if it was the evening meal, there would probably be "tea" in the afternoon. "Supper" was also a midnight-ish meal served at evening parties.
The foods also varied enormously and it's a bit hard to generalise about that. Dinner parties could be extremely elaborate with many courses and numerous dishes making up each course; whereas a family meal might be "meat and two veg".
There are many books on the sublect if you really want to know. :)
94. I think Elinor can't shake her innate sense of justice. But you'll notice that when Mrs Jennings scoffs, she drops the subject "for her sister's sake", as you say not going on with it and exposing Marianne's foolishness further.
95. Pig out. :)
96. Something like "If a person can't have one thing, they can always have another" - or, "If a person loses something, console them with something else." Marianne having lost Willoughby, Mrs Jennings plans to provide her with Colonel Brandon.
97. A sweet dessert wine from South Africa.
98. But on the other hand she knows her personal business isn't being gossiped about all over London.
99. It is true enough that neither Mrs Jennings nor Charlotte is intelligent - to say the least - but at the same time Austen cuts them some slack, particularly Mrs Jennings, because they are invariably kind and generous, even if their efforts to be so are misplaced. There are constantly tacit comparisons drawn between them, and people like Lady Middleton and Fanny Dashwood. So here Mrs Jennings is described using phrases like, A look of real concern and A voice of real compassion. The "real" makes up for many shortcomings.
Volume 2, Chapter 9 / Chapter 31
100. This is the bookend to Marianne meeting Willoughby in the first place through spraining her ankle. Life don't work like that, just novels. :)
101. That is indeed a very ambiguous phrase, which we can interpret how we choose. At best it means that he made no effort to live a proper domestic life, at the worst I shudder to think! - at the least cheating on her and not bothering to hide it.
102. Eliza is caught out committing adultery and her husband divorces her. Even so, the size of the fortune she brought into the marriage in the first place *should* have meant that even after the divorce, she received enough money to live on comfortably; but apparently she was receiving very little. (We remember that her husband's father was also her guardian: clearly, with Colonel Brandon out of the picture, no-one has been looking after the poor girl's interests.)
It is likely that she went to a solicitor connected with the Brandons once a month to receive the money, rather than having it paid into a bank account. But then she stopped doing that. Colonel Brandon learns that (obviously in need of a larger sum of money in the short term) she "sold" her right to her allowance to someone else: for example, she may have sold the right to collect fifty pounds a month for a lump sum of five hundred pounds; something like that. Having done so, she then had no steady income at all.
103. A debtor's prison. At this time, and for a number of decades afterwards, it was possible to have someone who owed you money arrested and jailed - no trial, no appeal. That person could only get out if they paid their debts, and since being in prison meant they weren't really in a position to earn money, the best hope they had was that their family or friends would pay their debts for them and get them released. If that didn't happen they just stayed in jail - for months, years, the rest of their life. (Dickens' Little Dorrit is centred on a debtor's prison.)
We infer that Eliza sold her allowance to try and pay off some immediate debt. Apparently unsuccessful, or getting into more debt afterwards, she was arrested and jailed (with her baby).
104. Just as well! - because all you'd get would be a big fat Wait and see :)
The fate of men like Willoughby and Wickham in Austen novels is one of the few serious feminist issues I have with the author. I know, intellectually, that she's nothing but starkly realistic, but oh how I want retribution to rain down on them. It was a good era to be a predatory man, apparently.
I thought a life time of Lydia Bennet was fine punishment for Wickham.
Yeah, that's not enough for me.
It is actually very scary, how easy it is in that society for an unscrupulous man to ruin a woman's life. Wickham nearly did so to Georgianna -- who was saved at the 11th hour by her older brother. But Lydia had no such guardian and even Lizzie was relatively helpless in the face of Wickham's perfidy.
And where Lydia's family at least prevailed on the couple to marry, Willoughby's paramour had no such resource. She is abandoned and without recourse....and must also bear society's disapprobation of her weak character. Whereas everyone still opens the door to the man who was at least equally responsible. It's awful.
I don't think I'm reading too much into it to suggest that Austen finds a society where a man's gambling debts are a more serious offense than his seductions to be deeply flawed.
My own opinion is that the overarching theme of Austen's novels is not love-and-marriage, or even how to make a good marriage, but parental neglect. If you look at her novels across the board, they abound with absent / neglectful / lazy / selfish parents (or guardians), whose daughters, and occasionally sons, suffer accordingly.
I think Austen was very painfully aware of just how vulnerable girls were, and how desperately they needed both education and protection. We don't like these days to think of girls needing "protection" in the sense of an assumption that they can't look after themselves, but in Austen's society they often simply couldn't.
We've seen how Austen used love-and-marriage as a smokescreen for critiquing her society: as long as her novels concluded with "and they lived happily ever after", she could get away with all sorts of things going on around that.
Even so, we have to understand that there were limits to what an author, and particularly a female author, could get away with in this respect. Any direct criticism, any open condemnation, would likely have seen her novels rejected (she had enough trouble getting them published as it was). But as long as she foregrounded the love-plot and made the bad things subservient to that, it was acceptable. So she never said "these things are terrible and shameful"; she just showed that they were; show not tell, like all good novelists.
The assumption that Wickham has been punished by a lifetime of Lydia is unfortunately not true: she's as vulnerable as she ever was, because at this time wives had no legal rights. Wickham can do whatever he wants in terms of neglect, infidelity and abandonment, and there's no redress. We shouldn't forget that it's not because Lydia has parents or comes from a respectable family that Wickham married her; it's because Darcy was willing and able to bribe him to do it. Likewise, the only reason Wickham continues to stay with Lydia is that he's paid to do it. If there was no Darcy in Lydia's life, she would have ended up exactly like Eliza.
101. "My brother had no regard for her; his pleasures were not what they ought to have been, and from the first he treated her unkindly."
I'm reading out of context here, but I think 'pleasures' in those days might have meant excessive gambling, drinking and possibly hunting? I always feel that these phrases, when Austen writes them, are not as bad as the modern day equivalent.
I raised this in post 19, above. At this point, I'm with you and not liking Marianne. Still have some book to go, so maybe I'll come around. But as one Joyce to another, I say: embrace your curmudgeon. I turned 50 last summer and have decided that I'm tired of playing nice and have released my inner curmudgeon. And on that note: . . . .
The assumption that Wickham has been punished by a lifetime of Lydia is unfortunately not true:
I hear your reasoning, but in this particular case I disagree. I would go into it, but it doesn't belong on this thread, and the P&P read is over, so . . . there you go.
To me, Sense And Sensibility isn't really about love-and-marriage; it's about two girls with opposing codes of conduct and how those codes work out in the real world.
Obviously Austen's sympathies are with Elinor, but that doesn't mean she dislikes Marianne (or means us to). Rather, she's critiquing the tendency over the previous twenty to thirty years to encourage young women to be all about their emotions and to indulge their feelings at the expense of their character development. This cult of "sensibility" was a real phenomenon, though it probably never reached the ludicrous heights that the novels of that period would suggest.
Those novels are important for reflecting the prevailing viewpoint, though: what's most significant is that in them, girls who behave like Marianne are the heroine: the more they cry and faint and make themselves sick, the more wonderful they are considered, the more loveable they are; and in the end their behaviour is rewarded with "happy ever after" (presumably in between still more crying and fainting).
What we have here is Austen saying wryly, Yeah, but here's how that would really work out.
As for liking or disliking---Marianne is an over-emotional teenager in the throes of her first love affair, and we're all curmudgeons: do you really think she's going to get a fair trial here? :)
(Joyce, if you want to add your comments about Lydia here, please do.)
105. "Bad indeed must the nature of Marianne's affliction be, when her mother could talk of fortitude! mortifying and humiliating must be the origin of those regrets, which SHE could wish her not to indulge!"
I'm not quite sure I understand this.
106. "But it was a matter of great consolation to her, that what brought evil to herself would bring good to her sister; and Elinor, on the other hand, suspecting that it would not be in her power to avoid Edward entirely, comforted herself by thinking, that though their longer stay would therefore militate against her own happiness, it would be better for Marianne than an immediate return into Devonshire."
Again, not sure I understand. And why does she think she won't be able to avoid Edward?
107. "Mrs. Palmer, in her way, was equally angry. "She was determined to drop his acquaintance immediately, and she was very thankful that she had never been acquainted with him at all. She wished with all her heart Combe Magna was not so near Cleveland; but it did not signify, for it was a great deal too far off to visit; she hated him so much that she was resolved never to mention his name again, and she should tell everybody she saw, how good-for-nothing he was."
No special comment here, I just found this highly amusing. JA was certainly having fun with this type of unthinking woman.
108. "Every qualification is raised at times, by the circumstances of the moment, to more than its real value; and she was sometimes worried down by officious condolence to rate good-breeding as more indispensable to comfort than good-nature."
I've wondered from the first: where does Lady Middleton's good breeding come from? Certainly not from her mother, and her sister is hopeless, as is her husband...
109. "Elinor only was sorry to see them. Their presence always gave her pain, and she hardly knew how to make a very gracious return to the overpowering delight of Lucy in finding her STILL in town.
"I should have been quite disappointed if I had not found you here STILL," said she repeatedly, with a strong emphasis on the word. "But I always thought I SHOULD. I was almost sure you would not leave London yet awhile; though you TOLD me, you know, at Barton, that you should not stay above a MONTH. But I thought, at the time, that you would most likely change your mind when it came to the point. It would have been such a great pity to have went away before your brother and sister came. And now to be sure you will be in no hurry to be gone. I am amazingly glad you did not keep to YOUR WORD."
Elinor perfectly understood her, and was forced to use all her self-command to make it appear that she did NOT."
Unlike Elinor, I don't understand what Lucy Steele is driving at here.
110. "I suppose you will go and stay with your brother and sister, Miss Dashwood, when they come to town," said Lucy, returning, after a cessation of hostile hints, to the charge.
"No, I do not think we shall."
"Oh, yes, I dare say you will."
More of the same as above I suppose, and still unclear to me.
111. "He was giving orders for a toothpick-case for himself, and till its size, shape, and ornaments were determined, all of which, after examining and debating for a quarter of an hour over every toothpick-case in the shop, were finally arranged by his own inventive fancy, he had no leisure to bestow any other attention on the two ladies, than what was comprised in three or four very broad stares; a kind of notice which served to imprint on Elinor the remembrance of a person and face, of strong, natural, sterling insignificance, though adorned in the first style of fashion."
In other words, he was exceptionally unexceptional. Lol! Though I vaguely seem to recall
112. What is the Exeter Exchange and who is Harry?
113. "I am extremely glad to hear it, upon my word; extremely glad indeed. But so it ought to be; they are people of large fortune, they are related to you, and every civility and accommodation that can serve to make your situation pleasant might be reasonably expected. And so you are most comfortably settled in your little cottage and want for nothing! Edward brought us a most charming account of the place: the most complete thing of its kind, he said, that ever was, and you all seemed to enjoy it beyond any thing. It was a great satisfaction to us to hear it, I assure you."
Elinor did feel a little ashamed of her brother"
I have my own ideas on why she would be ashamed of him, but why do you think JA makes her feel so?
114. "your friends are all truly anxious to see you well settled; Fanny particularly, for she has your interest very much at heart, I assure you. And her mother too, Mrs. Ferrars, a very good-natured woman, I am sure it would give her great pleasure; she said as much the other day."
Is he really that big a hypocrite? Or merely stupid, or both?
115. "The enclosure of Norland Common, now carrying on, is a most serious drain."
What does this mean?
116. "Why, I hope not that. I might have sold it again, the next day, for more than I gave: but, with regard to the purchase-money, I might have been very unfortunate indeed; for the stocks were at that time so low, that if I had not happened to have the necessary sum in my banker's hands, I must have sold out to very great loss."
Elinor could only smile."
What is there to smile about?
117. "Having now said enough to make his poverty clear, and to do away the necessity of buying a pair of ear-rings for each of his sisters,"
Why would this be a necessity to begin with?
118. "At her time of life, any thing of an illness destroys the bloom for ever! Hers has been a very short one! She was as handsome a girl last September, as I ever saw; and as likely to attract the man. There was something in her style of beauty, to please them particularly. I remember Fanny used to say that she would marry sooner and better than you did; not but what she is exceedingly fond of YOU, but so it happened to strike her. She will be mistaken, however. I question whether Marianne NOW, will marry a man worth more than five or six hundred a-year, at the utmost, and I am very much deceived if YOU do not do better."
What execrable people!
That is precisely why I have abstained from making comments on her behaviour and whether I find her to be likeable or not. Plenty of teenagers act in a detestable way now, and presumably always have, but for the most part, this doesn't reflect on the kinds of people they become once the raging hormones have settled and they've learned a real life lesson or two.
Plus, there is all the difference in the world between Marianne's foolishness and Lucy's malice. Something I think Austen is diligent about pointing out. She rates genuine kindness above most other virtues, including breeding and intelligence.
I will say this for Austen: Despite her tendency to use characters as symbols (something I dislike in Dickens), she never is never quite able to leave out their humanity completely. We want to write them off as caricatures of this or that virtue or vice, but even in this novel, where some of them come very close to cartoonish, there is depth and perception to spare in Austen's pen. It elevates her books from trite morality tales to real literature.
"You are expecting a letter, then?" said Elinor, unable to be longer silent.
"Yes, a little—not much."
After a short pause. "You have no confidence in me, Marianne."
"Nay, Elinor, this reproach from you—you who have confidence in no one!"
"Me!" returned Elinor in some confusion; "indeed, Marianne, I have nothing to tell."
"Nor I," answered Marianne with energy, "our situations then are alike. We have neither of us any thing to tell; you, because you do not communicate, and I, because I conceal nothing."
105. Up until now, as we know, Mrs Dashwood has encouraged Marianne to simply "let go" and indulge her emotions at all times. However, Marianne's situation is so humiliating and Willoughby's behaviour has been so bad that even Mrs Dashwood thinks that Marianne needs to try and pull herself together and not "give him the satisfaction", as it were, of ruining her life. (Of course, it's a bit late for Mrs Dashwood to be giving advice like that, as Elinor reflects!)
106. It's awkward because of the way the families are situated, with Edward being related to their relatives. Since it was expected that relatives would at least call upon one another, and there will probably be family gatherings, Elinor anticipates not being able to avoid Edward altogether (particularly because he doesn't know that she knows his secret, and so won't be avoiding her).
108. I think Lady Middleton has set herself to "rise above" her background (don't forget, the family money came from - shudder - trade!), and is probably modelling herself on some acquaintances higher up the social ladder. But although her formal manners are better she has none of her family's kindness or generosity. It's a nice paradox, as Elinor notes, that sometimes there are more desirable things than kindness!
109. Lucy is indirectly accusing Elinor of running after Edward and trying to break up their engagement. Of course as we know, the length of Marianne and Elinor's stay in London has been altered by Marianne's circumstances; Elinor wants to get away but can't. Lucy is suggesting that she's hanging on in London until Edward arrives, and that in spite of what she originally said about how long they would be staying, never had any intention of leaving before she'd seen him. "It would have been such a great pity to have went away before your brother and sister came," Lucy says; it's not John and Fanny she's thinking of, though.
110. Yes, again Lucy is suggesting Elinor will go and stay with John and Fanny, in order to have more access to Edward.
Volume 2, Chapter 11 / Chapter 33
111. strong, natural, sterling insignificance That phrase always cracks me up! You're a wicked woman, Janie! :)
112. The Exeter Exchange was a building in the Strand, in London. Late in the 18th century an enterprising businessman bought it and set up a private menagerie there, a kind of indoor zoo. It was a popular tourist spot, and a visit was a common treat for children.
And speaking of which, Harry is John and Fanny's young son; you might remember the pointless argument early on over whether he or the Middletons' boy was taller.
113. Everything John says to Elinor is meant to point out how very well off she and the others are, and how they didn't need him to keep his promise to their father.
114. Mostly stupid. (Wait until you hear how he describes his appalling wife!)
115. He's having works done in the grounds of the estate he inherited, which are a significant drain on his finances. (A remark that simultaneously boasts about his situation, while again letting Elinor know there's no money for her and the others.)
116. And again trying (and failing) to make himself look cash-strapped. He had enough money to pay for the land he bought, but he describes it in terms of how much money he would have lost *if* he'd had to sell stocks to raise that sum.
Elinor's smiling because she sees through him so easily.
117. It's Christmas.
118. They're the products of a society where money takes precedence and everything is a commodity.
But where is the British stoicism? Where is the stiff upper lip? ;-)
Whether I "like" or "dislike" a character is not that important, or something I usually find interesting. The reason I mentioned it is because when I first met Marianne, I did like her (for as much as I thought of her). But then I got to know her a bit more and thought "hold on here--do I like her?" It's more about my change in view rather than the view itself. And then there is the aspect of her performance of sensibility, the idea that she thinks she's supposed to act that way. But let's not talk about the silly attitudes I held at that age . . . she is very young, after all.
That would be an affectation. But I don't think Marianne's love of romantic poetry is insincere. Just a little narrow. Willoughby, on the other hand, seems to regard poetry as a good way to get girls.
But let's not talk about the silly attitudes I held at that age
And I think Marianne will still enjoy poetry even when she becomes more mature. It doesn't seem like a "phase." I get the feeling that in the character of Marianne Austen isn't condemning the cult of sensibility so much as advising some moderation.
She seems to have a bit of a fixation on young, innocent girls being mislead by gallant young men at Bath. Was this a meme of the time?
>181 Citizenjoyce: Joyce, I'd like to point out to you, especially since you've provided a touchstone which points to the wrong place, that Jane Austen is spelled with an "E" in the last name. Unlike the town in Texas. :-)
I've also asked Liz the above partly for your benefit and for those who aren't familiar with that kind of novel because it really helps to have some idea of what some of those 18th century sentimental novels were like. I haven't read any myself yet, but just basing myself on some of the reviews Liz has posted gives me a good feel for what Austen is mocking here and has greatly helped me appreciate her work.
A novel about a character who dies from fainting too much? Oh, please, deliver me. It would be a funny short story, but I'm not sure if I could survive it for the length of a novel. Though I can see it fitting well in the Tuesday, Next series.
I think we must be careful about how we judge Marianne. Although we tend to see an aspect of "performance art" in her behaviour, there's no lack of sincerity. Nor is this all there is to her. She's intelligent; her love and understanding of poetry is real; she's a dedicated reader* and a talented musician. But she's been encouraged all her life to make her intellectual and character development subservient to her emotions. And yes, she is still very young.
(A little later in the novel we get this about her: Marianne, who had the knack of finding her way in every house to the library, however it might be avoided by the family in general, soon procured herself a book.)
>181 Citizenjoyce: & >182 Smiler69: & >183 Citizenjoyce: Joyce, I read a novel at the beginning of the year that is one of the extreme examples of the "novel of sensibility" that, as Ilana mentions, Austen openly mocked in her juvenilia, and is still critiquing here. If you have a low level of tolerance for this sort of emotional indulgence, steer clear of these books at all cost! - but if you'd like just a taste, I blogged about the book in question earlier this year:
The novel is (and the title is entirely typical) Munster Abbey, A Romance; Interspersed with Reflections On Virtue And Morality - my blogging begins here.
(NB: (i) Please forgive the shameless self-promotion! - and (ii) you DO NOT have to read all of it; like the novel, it goes on and on...but you should at least do yourself the favour of reading Possibly The Greatest Piece Of Writing In The History Of The English Novel.)
As for your observation about Bath---Austen spent a miserable period of her life living in Bath and does tend to make it the scene of her characters' miseries also. Anne Eliot being forced to give up her country home and live in Bath in Persuasion is an autobiographical passage.
their characters and their feelings must have soared far above the generality of imperfect mortals.
But yes, you've pretty much put your finger on the issue there. Though in that case it's not the characters thinking that way about themselves, it's the narrator telling us, in all seriousness, that it *is* so.
>186 gennyt: Thank you. The dog, unfortunately, ultimately meets the same fate as most fictional dogs, mostly so that we can have another lecture on the moral superiority of people with "sensibility" when Mrs Belford cries over it.
Volume 2, Chapters 12 to 14
119. What are the painted screens by Elinor they are all admiring like?
120. What is a philippic? Where does the expression come from?
121. "you ought to recollect that I am the last person in the world to do it. I cannot descend to be tricked out of assurances, that are not really wanted."
What does Marianne mean by this?
122. "Because they neither flattered herself nor her children, she could not believe them good-natured; and because they were fond of reading, she fancied them satirical: perhaps without exactly knowing what it was to be satirical; but THAT did not signify. It was censure in common use, and easily given."
Meaning that's what was commonly said of young ladies who enjoyed reading?
123. "Mrs. Dashwood had never been so much pleased with any young women in her life, as she was with them; had given each of them a needle book made by some emigrant"
In other words, the Miss Steeles got Christmas gifts where the Miss Dashwoods did not? What are these needle books and why specify they were made by an emigrant?
Volume 2, Chapter 12 / Chapter 34
119. The eternal mystery of the painted screen! (This came up in Pride And Prejudice, too, you might remember, when everyone was fussing over Miss De Bourgh.)
At the time, when a major source of heat and light was a fire in the fireplace, it was common to put a screen between the fire and the people so that they didn't get too much direct heat / light. These screens could be large-ish items that sat between the fireplace or a group of people, or they could be smaller, personal screens that were either put on a stand or could be held in the hand. They came with an insert of canvas, silk, wood or paper that could be decorated with embroidery or tapestry, or painted.
On this pair of screens, Elinor has painted the insert, and then the screens have been "mounted", or put in a frame or on a stand.
120. A bitter speech, or one made condemning something. Actually named after a person on the receiving end of such speeches, Philip of Macedon, who was publicly denounced by Demosthenes of Athens.
Volume 2, Chapter 13 / Chapter 35
121. That she never speaks insincerely, including flattery, "polite lies", or reassurances that are really just ego-rubs. Elinor is trying to wean Marianne from the idea that she is going to marry Edward; Marianne thinks that in saying that he must wish to see Lucy as much as to see them, Elinor is fishing to be told that of course Edward likes her best.
Volume 2, Chapter 14 / Chapter 36
122. Of any young lady capable of intelligent conversation, I should think! And certainly young ladies who read. :)
123. These were not necessarily Christmas presents, just marks of approbation from Fanny to the Miss Steeles. (Useful ones; Fanny may have heard from Lady Middleton how easy it is to get these two to do annoying household jobs!) A needle-book, or huswife, was a sewing-kit with needles, thread and scissors.
I would interpret the remark about them being made by "some emigrant" to indicate that Fanny has bought them from a street-seller and therefore paid as little as possible for these gifts.
(Also, sorry! - realise I jumped the gun in #178 regarding the argument about the relative heights of Harry Dashwood and William Middleton, which occurs in Volume 2, Chapter 14 / Chapter 36.)
I notice that even well spoken people use the word "an't", is that like aint. Was it an acceptable word?
And I think Marianne will still enjoy poetry even when she becomes more mature. It doesn't seem like a "phase." I get the feeling that in the character of Marianne Austen isn't condemning the cult of sensibility so much as advising some moderation.
I completely agree that Austen is aiming for moderation. But I don't have an opinion about Marianne's love of poetry--lots of people like poetry for all sorts of reasons. To me it doesn't say all that much about her.
"Affectation" - yes. I can't lay claim to this as an original thought, however:
"Sensibility, in the historical period in which the novel is set, implies affectation, sentimentality, self-indulgence in excessive emotions." (John Sutheland & Deirdre Le Faye in "How should we read the title? Is it "Sense versus Sensibility"? Or is the conjunction the more neutral 'and' . . . " )
". . . This scene offers abundant evidence of Elinor's sensibility, her capacity for strong feeling. She endures great, and increasing, emotion, although her ethos and habit of self-discipline prevent her from openly revealing it. Sense and Sensibility never implies an attack on true sensibility--only on the falsified version that Marianne and others often display." Patricia Meyer Spacks, Sense and Sensibility: an Annotated Edition.
and stuffy scholars aside, this is fun:
"With Willoughby gone, Marianne settles into the serious business of being a Tragic Heroine. . . . here's where Austen's psychological savvy begins bleeding through: because rather than continue to portray Marianne as the personification of Romanticism, she presents her as an actual human being, one who's chosen Romanticism and is striving to live according to what she sees as its precepts. In other words, while Marianne is absolutely indulging her feelings, she's doing it self-consciously; she is, at least in part, striving for an effect. For example, immediately after Willoughby's departure, we learn that she would be 'ashamed to look her family in the face the next morning had she not risen from her bed in more need of repose than when she lay down on it.' Suddenly we can conjure an image of Marianne swooping downstairs and dropping limply across the length of a couch, then loudly clearing her throat until someone notices her."
Later, her says: "Elinor, unlike Marianne, doesn't run to the nearest cliffside to pose tragically against the setting sun . . . " (Robert Rodi, Bitch in a Bonnet)
Back to stuffy scholars, I thought this bit from "Medicine, Illness and Disease" by John Wiltshire (found in Jane Austen in Context) to be interesting:
"The discovery that sensibility, both a physiological capacity and a moral endowment, might vary among individuals allowed the quality to become a marker of superiority, and more broadly a class difference. 'Nerves' were the lady's claim to superior social status, the mark, indeed, of her being a lady. At the same time, sensibility was not gender-specific. Thus 'sensibility' is laid claim to by Robert Ferrars as well as by Marianne Dashwood . . . Sensibility is so interesting because it twists between the social and physiological realms: Marianne's natural sensitivity is heightened, and to her validated, by cultural fashion. It has both a material aspect--as a reflection of real social conditions--and a cultural aspect--as a sign of delicacy and refinement. The contempt with which Austen treats most of her characters with 'complaints' of whatever kind does not obscure her recognition of this."
#184 - The stiff-upper lip (at least by that name) was the invention of a later era.
Oh, do tell! How interesting. When did it come about and under what circumstances?
I think we must be careful about how we judge Marianne. Although we tend to see an aspect of "performance art" in her behaviour, there's no lack of sincerity. Nor is this all there is to her. She's intelligent; her love and understanding of poetry is real; she's a dedicated reader* and a talented musician. But she's been encouraged all her life to make her intellectual and character development subservient to her emotions. And yes, she is still very young.
"Judging Marianne" is much to strong a term to cover my thoughts. I call it having a conversation. I agree that she in sincere--she believes this is how she should act.
And talking about judging and/or conversation, what does everyone think of Edward? To tell you the truth, I don't spend much time thinking about him at all, but over the past few years I've noticed several scholars (eg: Brownstein, Sutherland) being rather critical and negative about him. Watching for this as I'm reading, I feel a little sorry for him. Back to Robert Rodi again, he says: "So Austen has, a little perversely, given her melba-toast heroine a rye-crisp hero."
>191 Nickelini: I wasn't accusing just you of "judging"; the accumulation here of impatience and criticism and condemnation of Marianne seemed to me to add up to "judgement". :D
We need to be careful here not to give too much weight to hindsight. This sentence worries me---
Sensibility, in the historical period in which the novel is set, implies affectation, sentimentality, self-indulgence in excessive emotions
---because it makes Austen sound like an historical novelist, looking back, instead of a describer of contemporary society. And just because *she* considered sensibility an affectation doesn't mean that it wasn't still alive and kicking at that time, or that other people necessarily viewed sensibility in that light. We have a tendency these days to accept Austen as the voice of her time but the point is that she was different from the other writers publishing then (most of whom are forgotten for obvious reasons!). The other thing about Austen is that clearly she *always* regarded sensibility as a ridiculous affectation, even when the movement was at its peak in the late 18th century, as we can see in her juvenilia.
And though it came to be considered "affectation", the push towards greater sensibility was sincere enough in its origins. The 18th century started out as "the Age of Reason", and everything was supposed to be very rational and detached and unemotional. In the second half of the century there was a backlash against what was perceived as a very cold and calculating way of life, and this thinking gave birth to deist thought, a greater appreciation of nature, and to this encouragement of "sensibility" which privileged the emotions over the intellect; artistically, it led to poetry that was very aware of the natural world (we briefly considered William Cowper's work up above), and it gave birth to the Gothic novel which melded "the terrifying" and "the sublime". Ultimately this movement resulted in "Romanticism" and the poetry of Byron and Shelley and Keats---who were contemporaries of Austen the arch-rationalist: by the 1810s "sensibility" had been, for the most part, processed and confined to one area of artistic endeavour, although you do find both Gothic and sentimental novels continuing to appear up until about 1830.
This indulgence of "sensibility" was indeed seen in men as well as women, and it was viewed as evidence of high breeding and moral superiority. (Munster Abbey is 600 pages on this exact theme, all written in perfect seriousness.)
As I say, all this was sincere enough when it started but like many things it got exaggerated and ridiculous. It became affectation, certainly, which is what Austen is pushing back against. Her own way of showing it up as ridiculous is not just through Marianne, but by appending the word "sensibility" to people like Fanny and Robert Dashwood, and Mrs Ferrars.
I disagree with the inclusion of "nerves" in that passage---no-one in the 18th century had "nerves". They swooned, they wept, they collapsed under the weight of their own emotions, they developed "brain fever"---but they didn't have "nerves". "Nerves" is what was left of "sensibility" after the rationalists got hold of it.
(Come to think of it, off the top of my head I can't think of an author before Austen to use the word "nerves" like that - something to look out for! I think it's significant that Mrs Bennet and her nerves follow on from Marianne and her sensibility; another face of the same argument. In both cases Austen shows what it would be like to live with someone like that in the real world.)
Mind you---the Regency was an anomalously pragmatic time. Across the Victorian era there was a shift back the other way, certainly with respect to women, who weren't supposed to have any intellect but were encouraged to be all about, not their "sensibility" (which was too passionate for the Victorians), but their "affections". (That sensibility never went away altogether is reflected in the fact that you can find heroines dying of "brain fever" in novels through the early 20th century!)
The curious thing about the expression "a stiff upper lip" is that it's actually American in origin: it was found quite commonly in American writings in the first half of the 19th century. Then it seems to have emigrated - it disappears from America and becomes a commonplace in Britain, where it was adopted as a way of expressing the stoicism that was increasingly seen as desirable public behaviour.
Edward to me is another sign that this novel isn't really "about" its relationships. Certainly he's unsatisfactory as a hero, but then he's not really meant to be a hero. Austen's plot needs someone young enough, and inexperienced enough, and sufficiently self-doubting, to get into this mess with Lucy in the first place---which makes it easy for the reader to despise him and wonder what Elinor sees in him. To me this is another reminder that this was Austen's first novel, as she never quite succeeds in making us see Edward through Elinor's eyes.
But ultimately, even if Edward is spineless, Elinor has enough spine for both of them, so that's okay. :)
>192 southernbooklady: That's not quite right, Nicki - she goes out walking after the rain, and ventures into some wet grass:
The morning was fine and dry, and Marianne, in her plan of employment abroad, had not calculated for any change of weather during their stay at Cleveland. With great surprise therefore, did she find herself prevented by a settled rain from going out again after dinner. She had depended on a twilight walk to the Grecian temple, and perhaps all over the grounds, and an evening merely cold or damp would not have deterred her from it; but a heavy and settled rain even SHE could not fancy dry or pleasant weather for walking.
Two delightful twilight walks on the third and fourth evenings of her being there, not merely on the dry gravel of the shrubbery, but all over the grounds, and especially in the most distant parts of them, where there was something more of wildness than in the rest, where the trees were the oldest, and the grass was the longest and wettest, had—assisted by the still greater imprudence of sitting in her wet shoes and stockings—given Marianne a cold so violent as, though for a day or two trifled with or denied, would force itself by increasing ailments on the concern of every body...
True enough, I think I superimposed the movie on the book. But Austen goes out of the way to point out her imprudence. (What we in a modern era would call her "moping").
124. "I acquit Edward of essential misconduct. I wish him very happy; and I am so sure of his always doing his duty, that though now he may harbour some regret, in the end he must become so."
I don't understand the last bit.
125. "A few minutes more spent in the same kind of effusion, concluded his visit; and with repeated assurances to his sisters that he really believed there was no material danger in Fanny's indisposition, and that they need not therefore be very uneasy about it, he went away;"
Because I'm very sure that was foremost on their minds...
126. "La! if you have not got your spotted muslin on!—I wonder you was not afraid of its being torn."
What has that got to do with anything? Or is that the point—that it doesn't?
127. "I hope my dear Miss Dashwood will excuse the liberty I take of writing to her; but I know your friendship for me will make you pleased to hear such a good account of myself"
I don't know much about proper letter-writting formulas, but this seems odd to me, if only the switching from third to first person in the same sentence.
128. "Elinor was hardly less anxious than herself for their removal, and only so much less bent on its being effected immediately, as that she was conscious of the difficulties of so long a journey, which Marianne could not be brought to acknowledge."
Which difficulties in particular?
129. Why does Colonel Brandon want Elinor to announce the offer of the living of Delaford to Edward instead of doing it himself? Doesn't he know they were fond of each other before? Is he deliberately making some scheme here?
130. Does Edward think Colonel Brandon has designs on Elinor when she announces the offer of the living to him?
131. "Mrs. Dashwood was denied; but before the carriage could turn from the house, her husband accidentally came out."
I'm confused by this passage. Especially about Mrs Dashwood. What is she denied? Shouldn't it say MISS Dashwood?? Are they trying to avoid Elinor? Why would they?
132. "Edward is only to hold the living till the person to whom the Colonel has really sold the presentation, is old enough to take it.—Aye, aye, that is the fact, depend upon it."
I'm not sure I understand what the assumptions he's making are.
124. "In the end he must be happy, because he does his duty and has a clear conscience." (Elinor may be trying to convince herself a bit here.)
125. It's foremost in his, so it MUST be foremost in theirs - right?
Volume 3, Chapter 2 / Chapter 38
126. Or that her sister's situation and other people's clothing are matters of equal importance to Miss Steele.
127. It certainly is mixing perspectives, and may be another sign of Lucy's inadequate education. Or it may be a sign that she's hesitating over whether to address Elinor formally or informally.
Volume 3, Chapter 3 / Chapter 39
128. If they go now they will have to go on their own, in a hired coach, spending three nights in inns along the way. This is not a desirable situation for two young women. (It also may be more expensive than they can really afford.)
129. No, the situation is just awkward because he and Edward aren't really acquainted. Also, there is a sense here that he is doing this as much to help a friend of the Dashwoods, as because he feels sorry for Edward and thinks he deserves better. The word 'delicacy' here suggests that the Colonel is aware that receiving such a significant favour from someone he barely knows is likely to be the cause of great embarrassment for Edward, so he asks Elinor to act as his intermediary; also, that Edward's gratitude will embarrass him. (Of course, the situation he creates is even MORE embarrassing for Edward!)
It is very unlikely that he knows anything about Elinor and Edward, because even if he bothered to listen to the Middletons' nonsense, he was only around for the 'begins with an F' teasing, which was nearly a year ago. In fact, he is motivated mostly because (as far as he knows) an attempt is being made to prevent the marriage of two people in love.
Volume 3, Chapter 4 / Chapter 40
130. No - he thinks Elinor has persuaded Colonel Brandon to this, which is mortifying under the circumstances, and he's probably somewhere between dismayed and horrified at realising that he doesn't really have an excuse to put off his marriage any more.
Volume 3, Chapter 5 / Chapter 41
131. Fanny Dashwood has told her servants to say she's not at home, to "deny her" (we don't know if she's done this generally, or just if her sisters-in-law call). However, as Elinor is leaving,
132. We talked a lot about the presentation of livings to clergymen during Pride And Prejudice. A landowner who had a living in their "gift", as it was called, could give it away freely, or they could sell it for a sum based on the income it would earn in the future. (Rather like selling a business franchise on predicted income.)
If a living was intended for someone in the family, but who wasn't old enough to take up the position (you had to be twenty-five), it would be given or sold to someone else on a temporary basis. If sold, the price would be based upon the number of years the person would have it before being asked to give it up.
No, certainly sensibility was not an exclusively English thing, particularly not since a number of its tenets grew out of Rousseau.
We know how Marianne demanded back her letters and her lock of hair; here the letters and the portrait seem to have been returned unasked for.
Thank you for adding that, Joyce!
124. "In the end he must be happy, because he does his duty and has a clear conscience." (Elinor may be trying to convince herself a bit here.)
Oh yes, now I see, perfectly clear now. I was having trouble working it out by myself, and you can't imagine how helpful it is to me when you clear up passages like that for me. Gives me a whole new even deeper appreciation for JA's work and all the details she manages to work in with such economy. Trying to convince herself indeed. Poor thing!
127. Also, it occurred to me later, that Lucy can't quite decide exactly who she is addressing with this letter, since as it says just a bit further down, Elinor guessed Lucy had intended that letter to be shared also with Mrs Jennings, at the very least.
131-2. Wait, is it Robert or John who comes out? The text said her husband accidentally came out. Now I'm further confused...
>198 Nickelini: Wonderful wonderful, wonderful Joyce! Thanks so much for sharing this painting with us! Quite a feat to capture a woman mid-swoon. I couldn't help but cynically wonder how many other people she might have sent her portrait to and had it returned before and after this scene... *evil grin*
>200 cbl_tn: Hadn't noticed the dog either! Seems like he's seen this enough times to know to stay out of the way of falling bodies!
131-2. John! John, sorry, that's a typo. I'll go back and fix it. (I wrote "Robert" in 132., too - don't know why I'm suddenly fixated on Robert!? Must be his sterling insignificance...)
>204 Nickelini: Another great picture, Joyce, thank you!
I try to limit it to no more than once a week! ;-) Seriously, the only time he hides under the furniture is when I run the vacuum cleaner.
>204 Nickelini: I think that picture should be used in a pictorial dictionary next to the word "sourpuss"!
Ha ha ha! Indeed.
133. "she was pleased to be free herself from the persecution of Lucy's friendship"
No comment, just a wonderful little morsel!
134. "The second day brought them into the cherished, or the prohibited, county of Somerset"
I forget what is in Somerset. Is it Combe Magna?
135. "In such moments of precious, invaluable misery, she rejoiced in tears of agony"
Another wonderful passage which captured my attention the first time I read it too.
136. I couldn't help but find it strange that Elinor is comparing Edward to Mr Palmer in this chapter. She's never compared anyone to him before and I fail to see why Mr Palmer more than anyone would bring Edward to mind.
137. "Elinor, catching all, and more than all, his fears in a moment, proposed to call in further advice. But he judged it unnecessary:"
Was she thinking of calling in a clergyman here?
138. "Elinor, conning over every injunction of distrust, told herself likewise not to hope"
What a strange expression, I know I should, but I don't understand it.
There is a lot in Willoughby's narrative that I don't quite understand or simply find confusing, as you will see with the following questions.
139. ""Remember," cried Willoughby, "from whom you received the account. Could it be an impartial one?"
I can't remember 'whom' now myself.
140. ""But, upon my soul, I did NOT know it," he warmly replied; "I did not recollect that I had omitted to give her my direction; and common sense might have told her how to find it out."
I don't begin to understand what he's saying here.
141. "she was reduced to the extremest indigence."
Who is she referring to here? The fiancée? WAS she a fiancée at that point? And what does this mean? And why would she be?
142. "I had reason to believe myself secure of my present wife, if I chose to address her, and I persuaded myself to think that nothing else in common prudence remained for me to do."
143. "My journey to town—travelling with my own horses, and therefore so tediously"
144. "What I felt on hearing that your sister was dying—and dying too, believing me the greatest villain upon earth, scorning, hating me in her latest moments—for how could I tell what horrid projects might not have been imputed? ONE person I was sure would represent me as capable of any thing"
145. "Domestic happiness is out of the question."
Why so? Is this a veiled reference to something?
135. Seeing Mr Palmer close-up and having to live with him makes her appreciate Edward even more. (She hasn't had to share a house with any man since her father was alive.)
Volume 3, Chapter 7 / Chapter 43
137. No, calling in a doctor rather than an apothecary. (In country areas you sometimes didn't have the choice. A doctor might have to be obtained from a considerable distance away.)
138. Elinor thinks, but will not let herself actually believe, that Marianne is getting better. Instead she keeps on herself an "injunction of distrust", that is, she restrains herself from getting carried away by dwelling on how she's been wrong before.
Volume 3, Chapter 8 / Chapter 44
139. Colonel Brandon, who has all sorts of different reasons for hating Willoughby and wanting to ruin him in the good opinion of the Dashwoods. Willoughby realises that if Elinor knows the story of Eliza (the younger, Colonel Brandon's ward), the Colonel is the only person who could have told her. He is suggesting that the Colonel has given a very prejudiced account, and that he (Willoughby) is not as much to blame as Elinor might now believe.
140. Willoughby has been accused of seducing Eliza, getting her pregnant, then abandoning her. He says that he did not abandon her, that he meant to give her his address ("direction"), but that even if he forgot to do that, she should have known how to find him. (We don't know who's telling the truth here.)
141. Eliza, unable to find Willoughby, was left alone, pregnant, and penniless.
142. Mrs Smith, from whom Willoughby expects to inherit Combe Magna, finds out about Eliza and threatens to cut him off unless he marries her. Willoughby refuses, even though doing so leaves him (in his own estimation) in poverty---or at least too poor to afford a poor wife, as Marianne would be. He has already started courting the rich Miss Grey, and believes she will marry him if he asks her. He refuses to do without the luxuries he's accustomed to, so he gives up the girl he loves to marry for money ("in common prudence" - remember all the debate in Pride And Prejudice about the difference between a "mercenary" marriage and a "prudent" marriage?).
143. If he's only using his own horses, instead of paying for a series of rented ones, then he has to keep stopping on the road to rest them, which makes the journey much more time-consuming.
144. COLONEL BRANDON!! :D
Willoughby knows perfectly well the Colonel is in love with Marianne, and again accuses him of slandering him (Willoughby) to damage him in Marianne's opinion.
145. He doesn't love his wife, he just wants her money. (A sentence or two later he's hoping she might die.)
So that his amorality would make the moral but entirely bland Edward seem like a good catch? I can't find a decent man in the novel - Edward's a cipher, Willoughby is a cad, Brandon - the best of the bunch- insists on linking himself to a child, Palmer ditto so that he can feel himself superior to everyone, Mr. Jennings the perpetual frat boy. Austen never married. You say that the only viable option for a woman was to marry, yet the options she presents are all sorry specimens. I'm willing to bet that even in the 19th century there were some actual moral, intelligent humane men. She just didn't want women to hope to get one?
Also, one of my pet peeves. The medical reality is that one does not develop a life threatening infection from getting cold and sitting in wet shoes for a while. And if, in her world there was such a reality, why the heck would any reasonable person do it?
As I've said, I don't think this book is really about love-and-marriage: it's about test-driving two different and quite opposed codes of behaviour in the real world and where you end up as a consequence of practising them. It's more about individuals getting along and being able to live with themselves, I think; certainly not about being "rewarded" as a consequence.
The quality of men on display here probably represents another kick-back against the prevailing romance view of the Prince Charming who will inevitably come to sweep a girl off her feet - of course, the whole Willoughby plot is a thorough debunkuing of that particular myth. She may have taken it a bit too far in the other direction, but the reality was that some girls had limited resources and limited options. If the only options *were* sorry specimens, what then? Of course there were moral, intelligent, humane men around, but there was no guarantee any particular girl would meet then - particularly not if living in the country on a restricted income.
(And of course, Austen has been criticised with respect to her other novels, for providing a suitably marriageable man for her heroine - that was "unrealistic".)
The medical reality of the time is that there was no medicine as we now understand it, and that any illness could be life-threatening. So yes, sitting around getting chilled was a stupid thing to do. You'd almost think she was a thoughtless teenager. :)
I can't find a decent man in the novel ...Austen never married. I think that says a LOT. She knew men as brothers, etc. Her realism about people is amazing, but her love interests . . . hmmm.
I'm willing to bet that even in the 19th century there were some actual moral, intelligent humane men. She just didn't want women to hope to get one? . . . well, I'm sort of partial to Darcy, so can you give her a novel or so to figure it out? Although then some of the other novels still have the overriding "huh? love?" aspect to them (ah hem, Mansfield Park. Others can be included here.)
Also, one of my pet peeves. The medical reality is that one does not develop a life threatening infection from getting cold and sitting in wet shoes for a while. And if, in her world there was such a reality, why the heck would any reasonable person do it?
Oh, don't get me started. NOT a fair criticism. They had no idea. Loved ones dropped dead--who knew? But even when I read these sorts of novels way back in the 20th century, I wanted to know! -- Emily Bronte and Wuthering Heights in particular, but also Charles Dickens, and this case of Austen, and many others. If these characters were actual historical figures, there might be an educated guess (no one knows for sure what Jane Austen died from in her 40s). But these books are written by people who had no way of knowing.
That doesn't mean it doesn't drive me rather crazy. In some books, it seems like just being really, really upset was enough to make you die. I remember after way too many "oh I would just die" comments back in the 80s, my dad saying "wow, you sure die easily." And to her dying day, my mom believed getting seriously chilled would lead to a bad cold. Yes, she knew the whole virus thing, but still . . .
So yes, as you say, pet peeve but once I see myself going down that road with any writers from the 19th century, I think of what Emily Bronte would have known in her actual life?, and it was . . . . a lot of unexplained death. So Marianne getting deathly ill from getting damp . . . well, she was run down, and . . . I can see it. (Although my 21st century brain says "no")
I would add, though, that being really, really upset was enough to make you die is a hangover from the sentimental novels that preceded Austen, when dying of a broken heart was another way of exhibiting your superiority to coarse humanity in general. It then got mixed up with this pre-medicinal, dying for no good reason situation, where the lack of firm explanations gave novelists a lot of leeway.
That'll show them, eh.
This is an era where they still frequently bled patients to "release the ill humours." Where there was no directly understood connection between, say, washing your hands and the spread of infection.
There is a description in the letters of John Adams of when his family decided to be immunized for smallpox after outbreaks occurred in Boston. It was a very scary process--one that could kill you, and that even in the best case scenarios often left a person weak and suffering from side effects in hospital for weeks. I think one of John Adams' sons had a very bad reaction to the procedure and almost died. It wasn't a "vaccination" but an "inoculation" -- meaning that people were deliberately exposed to the scabs from pox lesions, isn't that a lovely thought.
Around Jane Austen's time, it had been discovered that exposure to cowpox granted immunity to smallpox, and actual vaccinations were being developed. But it was by no means a standard or even common practice to be vaccinated.
That's wonderful! I've never even seen an airing cupboard.
#223 I added the book to my WL. - I think when he published the blog in book form, he took it off his website. Looks like he's currently doing another book though (Persuasion, I think).
I believe you're right. Last time I looked, there were just a few of the first chapters available on the blog. But the Kindle book is really cheap, just 99¢ here in Canada. Haven't read it yet, but I know I'm in for a treat!
I had a really hard time buying into people dying off so easily before too, and I remember objecting to this 'unrealistic' detail when I first read S&S too. But it's true enough people did die from seemingly trivial things by modern standards. Also true no doubt that novelists made good use of that common eventuality for their narrative purposes.
Can't really argue with that! But can you accept that Marianne was run down and therefore more susceptible to catching a virus? One that she might have fought off if she was healthier?
I couldn't wait any longer. I got to Book 3, chapter 8 and JUST COULDN'T STOP. I'm going to give it 8 out of 10 stars.
So I'm done now. :D
In my teens I had a friend whose mother would not let her wash her hair while she had her period. (I can't remember what the dire outcome of that was supposed to be.)
>228 Nickelini: Yes, that's quite right, Joyce, and acknowledged as right after Marianne's recovery: she's been stressed for weeks, and not eating or sleeping properly; therefore she's run down and vulnerable to illness. Whether sitting around in wet clothes was a contributing factor or not doesn't matter, it was believed that it could be.
>229 Morphidae: Well done, Morphy!!
So I've reread chapter 8, keeping Eliza firmly in mind (poor thing!) and of course it all made sense to me now. This means I only covered two other chapters, but then there is no rush and I'm more than happy to keep the last three chapters for tomorrow or the next day.
146. "She felt that his influence over her mind was heightened by circumstances which ought not in reason to have weight; by that person of uncommon attraction, that open, affectionate, and lively manner which it was no merit to possess;"
Why so? Is that Elinor's opinion or JA's?
147. "and in her recovery she had yet another source of joy unthought of by Elinor."
Does she mean the speech that is to come, about Colonel Brandon's avowal of his love for Marianne?
148. ""His fortune too!—for at my time of life you know, everybody cares about THAT;—and though I neither know nor desire to know, what it really is, I am sure it must be a good one."
Hard to believe she doesn't want to know! I thought everybody in England at that time thought these things were of prime importance!
149. "Here they were interrupted by the entrance of a third person"
Are we supposed to know who that third person is?
150. "Elinor withdrew to think it all over in private, to wish success to her friend, and yet in wishing it, to feel a pang for Willoughby."
Here we're clearly starting to see one sister taking on the attributes of the other...
151. "Colonel Brandon was soon brought, by their united request, to consider his own abode there as equally determinate, if not equally indispensable."
I'm not sure I understand.
152. "The day of separation and departure arrived; and Marianne, after taking so particular and lengthened a leave of Mrs. Jennings, one so earnestly grateful, so full of respect and kind wishes as seemed due to her own heart from a secret acknowledgment of past inattention, and bidding Colonel Brandon farewell with a cordiality of a friend, was carefully assisted by him into the carriage, of which he seemed anxious that she should engross at least half. Mrs. Dashwood and Elinor then followed, and the others were left by themselves"
What others?! We've got Marianne, Elinor, Mrs Dashwood, Mrs Jennings, Colonel Brandon... that leaves just the servants doesn't it?
153. "By reading only six hours a-day, I shall gain in the course of a twelve-month a great deal of instruction"
I would think that would be the case for anyone! She is never to become quite moderate, is she (as JA points out shortly after)?
154. "No. I compare it with what it ought to have been; I compare it with yours."
As she explains shortly after, her illness certainly has transformed her!
155. "But it shall be regulated, it shall be checked by religion, by reason, by constant employment."
The one and only time the world 'religion' is mentioned in the whole book!
146. "Merit" belongs to qualities of character and mind; being good-looking and charming is a lucky accident that has nothing to do with whether someone is a good person or not. Elinor is acknowledging that she has been swayed by Willoughby's physical presence into feeling more sorry for him than she knows his behaviour deserves.
It's no secret that good-looking people get away with a lot more, and get forgiven more easily. And clearly that's no new phenomenon.
147. Yes. She doesn't know that the Colonel has already spoken to Elinor about his feelings.
148. It is another reflection of Mrs Dashwood's "romantic" view of life: she is a little ashamed of herself for caring about fortune, even though she should care for her daughters' sake, at least. Note that the equally "romantic" Marianne had a very firm idea about what income was needed to maintain a "romantic" lifestyle. :)
149. No, just that the conversation was cut short.
150. Well, Elinor isn't unemotional, just controlled. She feels the "pang" we discussed in 146., but at the same time she doesn't want Willoughby to have anything more to do with Marianne.
Volume 3, Chapters 10 / 46
151. It is indispensible for Mrs Jennings to stay at Cleveland until Mrs Dashwood leaves because she is acting as hostess in the absence of the Palmers. Colonel Brandon is not "indispensible" in the same sort of practical way, but everybody urges him to stay anyway.
152. Mrs Dashwood, Elinor and Marianne have gone away, and "the others" - Mrs Jennings and Colonel Brandon - are left behind at Cleveland until their own carriages are ready and they can leave too.
153. It's a huge step up from what she has been doing, and in that respect seems over-the-top; though to be fair, six hours' reading a day would not have been considered excessive for a self-educated young man.
154. Austen was a big fan of people having time - or even being forced - to stop and think. A dangerous illness, the threat of death, is more than once the motivation for a reformation in her work.
155. Yes, it wasn't something casually spoken of at the time.
It's a vocabulary guide to Regency through Victorian usage. Compiled mostly for the benefit of historical novelists, who seem to be especially susceptible to anachronisms. Ei:
Even though every Regency drawing room is full of gentlemen wearing biscuit-colored breeches or pantaloons, the term was first used as a color in 1884 in a fashion note about “biscuit satin”.
(As far as anachronisms go, I suppose it's all right for novelists to call it that, as long as the characters don't?)
Jane Austen had died, a spinster member of a respected county family, in 1817; her memorial tablet in Winchester Cathedral does not mention that she wrote novels...
Observing a moment of silence.
Honestly Liz, though I know this novel to be less well-loved than P&P by most Janeites, I must say that thanks to your tutorials, I'd be hard-pressed to say which of the two I like best, because they each have such merits as makes them equally beloved by me, now.
I'm very glad to hear that your "conversion" process is continuing! P&P and S&S are very different books, and I would suggest again that S&S is the more difficult of the two, because of its refusal ever to give the reader quite what they want. Perhaps it's fair to say that Austen became more adept at sugar-coating in her later novels. :)
I look forward very much to our final round of Q&A.
Really? I'm not seeing that. Northanger Abbey is the only one that I might see that with, and it was written before S&S. Maybe I just don't understand what you mean. There isn't any sugar coating in Mansfield Park (which is probably the novel I know most deeply), Persuasion has a bitterness to it, and Emma is . . . what is Emma? Anyway, I'll consider your comment and look for that as I reread her other novels.
(*Like Sense And Sensibility, I don't think Mansfield Park is really "about" what it appears to be about at first glance; but I know you've studied it closely so I won't presume to tell you about it!)
Will post my last chapter-related comments now.
Volume 3, Chapters 11 to 14 (The End)
156. "At present," continued Elinor, "he regrets what he has done. And why does he regret it?—Because he finds it has not answered towards himself. It has not made him happy. His circumstances are now unembarrassed—he suffers from no evil of that kind; and he thinks only that he has married a woman of a less amiable temper than yourself. But does it follow that had he married you, he would have been happy?—The inconveniences would have been different. He would then have suffered under the pecuniary distresses which, because they are removed, he now reckons as nothing. He would have had a wife of whose temper he could make no complaint, but he would have been always necessitous—always poor; and probably would soon have learned to rank the innumerable comforts of a clear estate and good income as of far more importance, even to domestic happiness, than the mere temper of a wife."
I think this is a very likely outcome, had things gone differently. It speaks about Willoughby's shallow and selfish character, but then, sadly, it also speaks about human nature in general, because don't we always end up taking whatever we have for granted and always pine away for what we don't or can't have?
157. "One observation may, I think, be fairly drawn from the whole of the story—that all Willoughby's difficulties have arisen from the first offence against virtue, in his behaviour to Eliza Williams. That crime has been the origin of every lesser one, and of all his present discontents."
Indeed. I've learned my lesson and won't forget Eliza next time I revisit this novel, though of course Willoughby will forget her again and again, no matter how many times anyone rereads it, poor dear!
But on a more serious note, this passage made me think of Nicky's earlier comments (I think it was during P&P, don't have them handy at the moment, so inexact memory), about how a man's debts were considered a worse offence at the time than ill-treating a woman and destroying her reputation and prospects, and I think here the use of the word 'crime' clearly shows that Jane Austen did indeed see this was an evil action of major consequence.
158. I just keep wondering, whenever she (very rarely) pops up, why Margaret was included in this story at all, as she seems entirely superfluous. But then, my last comment shows I found an answer of sorts. (see 176)
159. I don't think anyone reading this novel can be left indifferent when the servant announces he's seen Mr Ferrars with his new wife Lucy! This was the case for me this time too, even though I knew what the outcome must be, but not remembering the plot at all, and I found myself wondering whether it was possible he was talking about another Mr Ferrars...
160. "She now found that she had erred in relying on Elinor's representation of herself; and justly concluded that every thing had been expressly softened at the time, to spare her from an increase of unhappiness, suffering as she then had suffered for Marianne. She found that she had been misled by the careful, the considerate attention of her daughter, to think the attachment, which once she had so well understood, much slighter in reality, than she had been wont to believe, or than it was now proved to be. She feared that under this persuasion she had been unjust, inattentive, nay, almost unkind, to her Elinor;—that Marianne's affliction, because more acknowledged, more immediately before her, had too much engrossed her tenderness, and led her away to forget that in Elinor she might have a daughter suffering almost as much, certainly with less self-provocation, and greater fortitude."
I now hesitate to make the comment that came to mind when I read this yesterday, especially seeing this comment >246 Citizenjoyce:. But I'll say it all the same: I found it touching that everyone, including Mrs Dashwood gains perspective from the whole ordeal. I'd say that all this 'fluffiness' of good feeling was one of the things that most got on my nerves about JA's novels before, but now that I'm won over and can see myself going to her for comfort reading again and again, I actually greatly appreciate that despite all the miseries and faults that have been on display throughout the novel, there is a message of hope in the end, that we can all be improved when given the chance to display our better nature. But of course, this isn't the case for everyone, as I've outlined in another passage! (see 174.)
161. "But he was now married; and she condemned her heart for the lurking flattery, which so much heightened the pain of the intelligence."
I don't understand this passage.
162. "Mrs. Dashwood, however, conforming, as she trusted, to the wishes of that daughter, by whom she then meant in the warmth of her heart to be guided in every thing, met with a look of forced complacency, gave him her hand, and wished him joy."
Again, the old girl has learned something!
163. "When Elinor had ceased to rejoice in the dryness of the season, a very awful pause took place."
Nothing to add really, I just love that thought of her 'rejoicing in the dryness of the season'. So perfectly absurd, yet describes the moment so well!
164. "His errand at Barton, in fact, was a simple one. It was only to ask Elinor to marry him"
Of course, we find out that this is precisely the case just a few lines later, but I couldn't help but wonder if this statement was meant to be read as a factual information from the narrator or whether we're meant to read it as conjecture on the part of the Dashwood ladies at that point?
165. "It was a foolish, idle inclination on my side," said he, "the consequence of ignorance of the world—and want of employment. Had my mother given me some active profession when I was removed at eighteen from the care of Mr. Pratt, I think—nay, I am sure, it would never have happened; for though I left Longstaple with what I thought, at the time, a most unconquerable preference for his niece, yet had I then had any pursuit, any object to engage my time and keep me at a distance from her for a few months, I should very soon have outgrown the fancied attachment, especially by mixing more with the world, as in such case I must have done. But instead of having any thing to do, instead of having any profession chosen for me, or being allowed to chuse any myself, I returned home to be completely idle; and for the first twelvemonth afterwards I had not even the nominal employment, which belonging to the university would have given me; for I was not entered at Oxford till I was nineteen. I had therefore nothing in the world to do, but to fancy myself in love"
Why does Edward blame his mother for his lack of occupation during that year before he went to Oxford? Was she in fact preventing him from taking up something or even going to university? Seems like a weak argument to me. He had enough of a mind of his own to get engaged to a woman he knew Mrs Ferrars wouldn't approve of, but not enough to find something to keep him interested in other things than a silly pretty girl?
166. "How they could be thrown together, and by what attraction Robert could be drawn on to marry a girl, of whose beauty she had herself heard him speak without any admiration,—a girl too already engaged to his brother, and on whose account that brother had been thrown off by his family—it was beyond her comprehension to make out. To her own heart it was a delightful affair, to her imagination it was even a ridiculous one, but to her reason, her judgment, it was completely a puzzle."
Here, going back to the comment I made to Nicky just above in >250 Smiler69:, at that point in the book I did think this was a weak plot point and MUCH too convenient. Found it puzzling indeed and was expecting a very good explanation!
167. "Elinor remembered what Robert had told her in Harley Street, of his opinion of what his own mediation in his brother's affairs might have done, if applied to in time. She repeated it to Edward."
I tried to find that passage again, but in the heat of the moment, could not. Would you please point me to it again?
168. "Please to destroy my scrawls—but the ring with my hair you are very welcome to keep."
This made me roar with laughter. One of the best moments in the whole novel (of many, admittedly). What a presumptuous girl! Certainly doesn't lack nerve!
Chapter (The Final) 14
169. "After a proper resistance on the part of Mrs. Ferrars, just so violent and so steady as to preserve her from that reproach which she always seemed fearful of incurring, the reproach of being too amiable, Edward was admitted to her presence, and pronounced to be again her son."
"and therefore, after such an ungracious delay as she owed to her own dignity, and as served to prevent every suspicion of good-will, she issued her decree of consent to the marriage of Edward and Elinor."
Vividly brought to mind the print of sourpuss Mrs Ferrars Joyce posted here earlier in >204 Nickelini:!
170. "What she would engage to do towards augmenting their income was next to be considered; and here it plainly appeared, that though Edward was now her only son, he was by no means her eldest; for while Robert was inevitably endowed with a thousand pounds a-year, not the smallest objection was made against Edward's taking orders for the sake of two hundred and fifty at the utmost; nor was anything promised either for the present or in future, beyond the ten thousand pounds, which had been given with Fanny."
I don't understand that last part.
171. What is a sweep?
172. "The whole of Lucy's behaviour in the affair, and the prosperity which crowned it, therefore, may be held forth as a most encouraging instance of what an earnest, an unceasing attention to self-interest, however its progress may be apparently obstructed, will do in securing every advantage of fortune, with no other sacrifice than that of time and conscience."
Among my "Best of S&S" quotes.
173. "They passed some months in great happiness at Dawlish; for she had many relations and old acquaintances to cut"
She and Mrs Ferrars and Robert and John and Mrs John Dashwood definitely deserve one another!
174. "and setting aside the jealousies and ill-will continually subsisting between Fanny and Lucy, in which their husbands of course took a part, as well as the frequent domestic disagreements between Robert and Lucy themselves, nothing could exceed the harmony in which they all lived together."
As above; what a nest of vipers! It is to be supposed vipers get along with each other just fine.
175. "Marianne Dashwood was born to an extraordinary fate. She was born to discover the falsehood of her own opinions, and to counteract, by her conduct, her most favourite maxims. She was born to overcome an affection formed so late in life as at seventeen, and with no sentiment superior to strong esteem and lively friendship, voluntarily to give her hand to another!—and THAT other, a man who had suffered no less than herself under the event of a former attachment, whom, two years before, she had considered too old to be married,—and who still sought the constitutional safeguard of a flannel waistcoat!"
The passage by which Marianne is entirely redeemed.
176. "and fortunately for Sir John and Mrs. Jennings, when Marianne was taken from them, Margaret had reached an age highly suitable for dancing, and not very ineligible for being supposed to have a lover."
NOW I understand why Margaret was needed after all!
I don't know that we're given any reason to expect a fundamental transformation in her - as Ilana pointed out, even Marianne's promises of reformation are exaggerated. In fact, I would suggest that embedded in the text is reason to think otherwise:
I mean, we certainly hope that both Mrs Dashwood and Marianne have learnt something, but I doubt either has changed at heart. Then too, a year or more passes in this last section of the novel, so if Marianne has changed, it might just be a bit of normal growing up.
>247 southernbooklady: It certainly does smack of "arbitrary deliverance" (I forget who said that originally). I think the psychology is sound, but Austen sacrifices proper groundwork in order to give Lucy her moment of triumph. Which leads me to...
>248 Citizenjoyce: Quite right, Joyce! Austen's realism extends even to a wry recognition that selfish behaviour is as likely to be rewarded as not. (She does counter-balance this a bit with Willoughby's fate, probably because he has committed more significant transgressions than just selfishness.)
156. I agree. We've seen nothing to suggest that anything does or ever would matter more to Willoughby than his own convenience and comfort.
157. Agree again - I think the word was used very deliberately. Nice observation about the relativity of the two transgressions.
158. Realistically, it was unlikely that an affectionate couple (as we are given reason to believe Mr and Mrs Dashwood were) would only have two children. However, from a novel-writing perspective, I would suggest that Margaret's main function is to give away Elinor's feelings for someone whose name starts with 'F'. (Marianne would never have done so.) Much of Elinor's suffering stems from that, because other people are then aware of her situation and watching her.
159. The servant, who saw only that Miss Marianne was taken ill... Marianne has her uses. :)
160. As per my answer to Joyce up above, I don't think we need to read too much into it. Perspective, yes, but I doubt there's radical change.
Volume 3, Chapters 12 / Chapter 48
161. "Flattery", in the sense of "I flatter myself that..."
Elinor has flattered herself - fooled herself into thinking - that something will intervene to prevent Edward's marriage; "lurking flattery" suggests she hasn't admitted to herself she's thinking along those lines. The fact that she has been, rather than resigning herself to the marriage, makes it much more painful for her when she has to face the truth.
162. She was never as bad as Marianne in that respect (you'd hope not, at her age), but yes. :)
163. What would we do without the weather to talk about!?
Volume 3, Chapters 13 / Chapter 49
164. No, that's a statement of fact. Circumstances being what they have been, this is the first time in the novel we've been allowed inside Edward's head.
165. Yes, she has prevented him doing anything - she won't pay for him to do what he wants (enter the church), and he won't do what she wants (go into politics or the law). So he's been left to kick his heels for a year.
The dangers to, and sins committed by, footloose young men without a profession to occupy them is a common Austen subplot. Edward is an honourable young man so his dallying with a young woman leads to a foolish engagement. If he were more like Willoughby, there might have been another Eliza in the world.
166. As per my answer to Nicki above, Austen wants to spring her surprise so she doesn't really build up to this outcome. I don't have any trouble believing that Lucy could manipulate Robert into doing what she wants, though!
167. The passage is in Volume 3, Chapter 5 / Chapter 41
"I offered immediately, as soon as my mother related the affair to me, to talk to him myself, and dissuade him from the match; but it was too late then, I found, to do any thing, for unluckily, I was not in the way at first, and knew nothing of it till after the breach had taken place, when it was not for me, you know, to interfere. But had I been informed of it a few hours earlier—I think it is most probable—that something might have been hit on. I certainly should have represented it to Edward in a very strong light. 'My dear fellow,' I should have said, 'consider what you are doing. You are making a most disgraceful connection, and such a one as your family are unanimous in disapproving.' I cannot help thinking, in short, that means might have been found."
168. It's almost enough to make you feel sorry for Robert. Almost. :)
Volume 3, Chapters 14 / Chapter 50
169. Very true!
170. Fanny was given a dowry of ten thousand pounds when she married. Mrs Ferrars feels (grudgingly) that she should probably do as much for Edward. (Ten thousand pounds invested would yield about 300 pounds a year. In addition to Edward's living a Delaford, he and Elinor will have about 500 pounds a year.)
171. A sweep was a decorative curving driveway, usually only associated with much bigger houses than Edward and Elinor will be living in, which is why it is "invented".
172. Agreed! It's fascinating that Austen doesn't even nod towards Lucy being punished for her behaviour...
173 & 174. ...unless you regard this sort of skirmishing as sufficient punishment. (I don't!)
175. I know a lot of readers have some issues with that passage...
>256 Smiler69: Joyce, I'm glad you got a lot out of the tutorial. Your carping reminded me of how much I disliked her first two books when I read them and how far I've come. It's good to have different viewpoints, certainly made for lively discussions!
Favourite characters: The main characters are not Austen's best, although after hearing so much criticism and discussion of Edward Ferrars, I sort of found a soft spot for him. I think Austen didn't give us enough information to see him for all his potential. Anyway, Fanny Dashwood of course is a favourite hated character, along with the fabulous Lucy Steele. But I also really liked John Dashwood's odiousness, and Mrs Jennings's huge heart.
Thanks to Smiler69 and Lyzrard for all the work you've put in to this endeavour. The main thing I learned here: this was Austen's first novel (in my mind it had been Northanger Abbey). She was still figuring things out.
Every time I read Austen, I think about the people I know and I consider how she would write them . . . it's inspiring. Especially with my husband's family, who are generally harmless colourful people (as opposed to my family who are either too boring for Austen, or too evil for me to find funny enough to Fanny Dashwoodize them. . . . Austen must have had a genuine ability to distance herself). But Austen seems to know my Italian-Canadian in-laws very well. :-)
158. Realistically, it was unlikely that an affectionate couple (as we are given reason to believe Mr and Mrs Dashwood were) would only have two children.
That explanation for the existence of Margaret did occur to me, and at one point I thought that might be the only reason for why she was part of the story, but good point about her needing to be there to point out the existence of a love interest starting with an 'F'.
160. I don't think we need to read too much into it. Perspective, yes, but I doubt there's radical change.
According to the impression I get of Austen's way of thinking, I'd say you're probably right, but then I guess each reader is free to make his or hew own interpretation. For those who want to find a message of hope and a happy ever after, there's always that option left open too!
166. I don't have any trouble believing that Lucy could manipulate Robert into doing what she wants, though!
Indeed, nor do I! If she's able to make Mrs Ferrars eat out of her hand, what can she not do?!
167. Thanks for the passage. It had completely gone out of my mind.
168. It's almost enough to make you feel sorry for Robert. Almost.
I don't at all. I'd say they perfectly deserve one another.
172. It's fascinating that Austen doesn't even nod towards Lucy being punished for her behaviour...
I like Austen the better for it. I like that she leaves it to the reader to infer his or her own conclusion about what fate is in store for those characters, and besides, as you've said, in her quest for realism, it's much more accurate to not always punish to wicked since we know they usually get away with all their nonsense in real life, and all too often fare much better than the just (in this realm at least)...
173 & 174. ...unless you regard this sort of skirmishing as sufficient punishment. (I don't!)
Interesting point. I'm contented that they are all so preoccupied with each other that they probably don't have much time left to bother other people (or so I hope). I like to see bad characters punished usually, but here the fact that they all truly deserve one another does act as a balm of sort.
175. I might have issues with that passage too if it weren't for the fact that I read it as a statement made with tongue firmly in cheek!
Isn't it just cool when that happens? I started out disliking Austen too (Emma was my first). I thought she seemed petty. I'm glad I took another look.
Northanger Abbey was drafted before Sense And Sensibility, but it was significantly revised twice before it was published, including towards the end of Austen's career.
I don't have so much of an issue with Edward because his relationship with Elinor is not really what the novel is about. As a character he is certainly problematic, since Austen needs him to be weak enough to get entangled with Lucy in the first place and naive enough not to see through her subsequently, but also too honourable to break with her although he really, really wants to. To make such a character work, you would need to make the whole book about him; and since that's not what Austen wanted, she was probably wise to keep him rather shadowy.
Wonderful to hear that you have undergone such a transformation, Ilana! Thank you for again being an excellent tutee---and also to those of you who have come along for the ride and particularly for your contributions, which help to make this a much richer experience. Joyce and Joyce, a little pushback in this situation is a good thing, because it makes you think about why you think what you think. :)
I suppose, given all the Austen pastiches out there, someone has done a series of rewrites from the point of view of the men, but I confess I have trouble envisioning it.
Then, for those interested there was also a Northanger Abbey tutorial, which I can retrieve without difficulty: http://www.librarything.com/topic/132430