Laura Parkinson (stormfeather) wrote,
Laura Parkinson

Parasha: Sense and Sensibility November 17th reading

So far Volume 2 (and the tail end of Volume 1) appears to be "let's show just how big of jerks guys can be and how untrustworthy they are" time. And I'm not completely sure why Elinor's setting Edward so high above Willoughby, since the end result from what we can see so far is the same - leading a girl on who they don't intend to eventually marry, without any explanation otherwise.

Despite what Mrs. Jennings says, I find it really hard to picture Lady Middleton as being silly and lost in love with her husband back in their courting days.

I'd feel more sympathy for Marianne here if she weren't also bent on being Overly Dramatic. Good grief. As for Willoughby's letter, it's obviously unkind, but I find it hard to see it as painting Willoughby as that much blacker than he already was. Sign of the times, I guess.

I also have to love (or in other words roll my eyes at) Marianne's assertion that the only thing that could have happened is that someone employed the Blackest Arts (of rumor and lies one supposes) against her, to turn Willoughby against her. Ah, young love. And given all this, does anyone other than Elinor REALLY expect Marianne to take the high road and "cheat her enemy of their triumph" or whatever? Really really?

I have to say that this is where I started feeling more kindly toward Mrs. Jennings, I think. Until now she comes across as fairly silly, living only (or at least mostly) for gossip, teasing, and matchmaking, but here it's apparent that even though her methods aren't always the best, she really does want to comfort Marianne.

I like Elinor's It would be unnecessary, I'm sure, for you to caution..." Translation: "Since I doubt you'll consider it on your own, I feel I'd better point out blatantly..."

It's a pretty good sign of how formal the society was in general, that it's not until this section that we even see mention of Willoughby's Christian name, John.

And I think it goes without saying that I want to smack Marianne for her refusal to think that Mrs. Jennings might actually be sympathetic, and the way she puts it. Or for that matter her language re: Colonel Brandon.

We do a least get some idea here of why Colonel Brandon loves Marianne - it's because of her resemblance to a previous love. We also find out the truth of his "natural daughter," who really isn't - she's his ward, and I suppose his cousin.

(And reading between the lines, short version: Willoughby seduced Brandon's ward Eliza, got her pregnant, and abandoned her. This means that Eliza is now pretty much ruined. Brandon and Willoughby then fought a duel, one imagines by pistols, neither of them wounded. And yes, from what I gather this was illegal at the time, but still fairly common.)

And this is also perhaps the only time I want to smack Brandon, who I like as a character... for basically keeping his damn mouth shut when he thinks Marianne is about to marry such a man. I can somewhat understand it, since he might distrust his own motives, but come on! And I don't buy the "and maybe she could make him turn over a new leaf" argument, because we all know how well THAT works. And she should at least have all the information to decide whether she wants to take that chance, damnit.

I'd also note that before the elder Miss Steele was called "Anne," but here (and at other points further on if I recall correctly) she's referred to as "Nancy," which... confuses me, honestly! I'm not sure if the one was a nickname of the era for the other, if Austen got confused, if one might be a middle name, or what!

(And while we're doling out smacks, can we portion one out to Lucy as well, for being such a bitch?)


Lavender water and hartshorn: According to this site, lavender water "relaxes the nerves, can help reduce the symptoms of headache, muscle ache and stress." I'm guessing it's something a woman might carry out with her anyhow, just for general nerve/stress/ailment relief, or maybe just for the scent, and thus would be at hand. According to wiki Pete, "hartshorn" was actually one of the terms for ammonium carbonate (aka smelling salts), which could be obtained apparently via the horns and hooves of deer (harts), thus the name. Who knew?

Wedding clothes: Among the upper class, it would be typical for a bride-to-be to purchase a new wardrobe for her wedding, and usually there would be other purchases, such as the purchase of a new carriage on the groom's part, perhaps even included in the marriage agreements beforehand. Since London was by and large the biggest city in England, and the social center, it would make sense for someone to go there to shop for her wedding clothes given the chance. (See also: Mrs. Bennet being completely aghast at the thought of one of her daughters not having wedding clothes paid for by Mr. Bennet on... a certain occasion.)

Fifty thousand pounds: This is the fortune attributed to Miss Grey, since women's fortunes tended to be considered as lump sums, since that's what their husband would receive to add to his capital upon marriage. Men usually have their fortunes referred to as an annual sum, since their fortune would be tied up in estates and capital and so on, and they would then gain money each year from proceeds of agriculture, interest from investment, etc. I believe the usual interest for investments was around 5% per year, so 50,000 pounds would be roughly equivalent to 2500 pounds per year for a man's income, which is obviously not shabby considering that Colonel Brandon is considered not utterly rolling, but not badly off at 2000 pounds per year, and the Dashwoods ("our" set) are living on the interest from a few thousand pounds.

"eloping together for Scotland": In England at the time, two people had to be of age to marry without parental consent. (And I'm not sure what that age was - I'm thinking probably twenty-one, though I'm not certain.) This wasn't the case though in Scotland, and marriages performed in Scotland were still valid in England. So under-age-of-consent couples who wanted to marry but didn't have parental consent could sneak off to Scotland, be married there, and return to England. Gretna Green was probably the village most famous for this, since it was directly over the Scottish border and elopers wouldn't have as far to travel.

"her divoce": As is fairly self-evident from the text (even if unknown before that), divorce was much less common in that day, and had much more stigma. It wasn't just a matter of couples being incompatible - more or less getting a divorce meant that someone (and probably the woman, come to think of it I don't even know if a couple could be divorced for a husband's infidelity. I'm not sure how equal the law was, there) had been unfaithful. This is one of two divorces I can think of in Austen, and in both cases it's treated as about the most shocking thing possible.

Michaelmas: One of four days that divided up the year into quarters, contracts might begin/end on these days, rents would be due, etc. It was on September 29th. See also Wiki Pete, as usual.

"Came post": This was an "okay" way to travel - for those who didn't have a carriage of their own (or perhaps just the horses to draw it, or even wanted to travel faster than their own horses could do all at once), they could hire a coach and/or team of horses, which would then stop at various "posts" along the route for a change from tired to fresh horses, thus allowing them to keep up a fairly rapid pace without having one team of horses that they were overexerting.

Good grief, I think I may have overdone the notes this time! Somebody shut me up, I enjoy talking about this period too much, apparently. :p

And... the schedule. Again. Woot!
Tags: books, parasha, parasha_sense_sensibility
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