Sunday, March 14, 2021

S&S Read-Along: Ch. 11 & 12

Boy, things are escalating quickly between Marianne and Willoughby, aren't they?  By the end of chapter 12, they are calling each other by their names without the words 'miss' or 'mister' in front of them.  That's huge.  According to the notes in my copy, that would be seen as tacitly acknowledging an engagement without formally announcing it yet.  (Now, Elinor and Edward do sometimes refer to/address each other by their first names, but that was allowed because they were sort of in-laws, since her half-brother married his sister, and that meant they would be seen as being related enough to address each other more informally, but not related by blood and thus not unable to marry each other.)

Remember how Marianne and Mrs. Dashwood convinced themselves that Elinor must be in love with Edward and basically started planning their wedding?  Just because Elinor and Edward were spending a lot of time chatting?  Well, Marianne, it's time to get a taste of your own medicine.  Only it's not just your mom and your sister assuming you must be secretly engaged to Willoughby, it's evvvvvvvverybody.  Because when you behave toward a young man the way that young ladies ONLY behave toward a young man they're engaged to, then obviously, you must be engaged to him!  This is not an entirely unexpected sort of conclusion.

Willoughby and Marianne have quite the Mutual Admiration Society going on, don't they?  Marianne decides that "[e]very thing he did, was right.  Every thing he said, was clever" (p. 100).  They dance only with each other as much as is remotely allowable.  (According to my copy's notes, there were strict rules about how often you could dance with the same partner, and dancing more than two dances in a row with the same person was basically not permitted, so they're basically just dancing twice with each other, then sitting out for the next couple dances instead of dancing with other people, and then dancing together twice again.)  They talk only to each other whenever they're together.  I'm pretty sure that Austen is making a point here about how inadvisable it is to ignore the rest of your family and friends while pursuing a romantic partner.  At the least, it's rude.  It will probably expose you to gossip.  And it might even cause estrangement from those who love you already.

Meanwhile, poor Elinor is stuck talking to the irksome Mrs. Jennings and the boring Lady Middleton.  Even though Willoughby tends to be really kind toward Elinor, he does monopolize Marianne whenever possible, which means Elinor is kind of left in the dust.  Unless Colonel Brandon is around!  Then she has someone intelligent and filled with sense to talk to, at least.  I like how well they understand each other.  And I LOVE this description of him:  "Colonel Brandon, who was on every occasion mindful of the feelings of others" (p. 116).  What. A. Prince.  (And how different from his friend, Sir John Middleton.)

Possible Discussion Questions:

1.  How do you think Marianne has reconciled her conviction that people can never fall in love a second time with the fact that her own mother was her father's second wife?

2.  If someone offered to give you a horse, would you take it?

3.  What's your opinion of Margaret right now, having told Mrs. Jennings that Elinor has a beau whose name begins with 'F' and then come to tell Elinor that Willoughby has cut off a lock of Marianne's hair?  

19 comments:

  1. this is why Colonel Brandon is my favorite Austen guy. I want one. where may I find one, please?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Katie, maybe try the British embassy? ;-)

      He's in my top 4 too.

      Delete
  2. Even if Marianne is not into being conventional, shouldn't Willoughby, who maybe have been out more in society, know to behave better? Clearly, he is too much like Marianne or maybe he just prefers to do whatever he wants, damm the consequence! Honestly, if I didn't know what a cad he is, I might actually thought a little better of him for being so open with his feelings.

    I think Marianne is still growing, maturing, basically a teenager who is changeable so I don't expect her to be set on whatever she thought at the time. I have not thought of Mrs. Dashwood as being a second wife, I kind of forgotten about that but maybe Marianne haven't exactly thought about that either.

    I kind of ignore Margaret and most people ignore her too, they don't put much thought to what she say, right? I just think Margaret's being Margaret, she's a child and she is not as good at stopping herself from saying something she shouldn't.

    When I read this a while back, I didn't care much for Colonel Brandon but now I see his character is so much better than I first thought.

    Have a lovely day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. P.S., your comment text is too small. I don't know if it's my computer but compare to your post content, it seems rather small. Just thought I mention it since it's a bit difficult reading the comments, for me, anyway. I have to make my browser size at 120%.

      Delete
    2. Lissa, I wonder if his throwing off of conventionality might be part of his chameleonlike tendency to match Marianne's tastes and wishes?

      Sorry that the comment text is too small for your liking. There's actually no way for me to change it -- that's not a setting I can adjust. Good thing it's not hard to hit ctrl+ and make the image a bit bigger, eh?

      Delete
  3. 1. How do you think Marianne has reconciled her conviction that people can never fall in love a second time with the fact that her own mother was her father's second wife?
    - Maybe she thought of that as a marriage of convenience, not love??

    2. If someone offered to give you a horse, would you take it?
    - It depends if you have a place to keep it and the wherewithal to feed and take care of it. We were offered a horse once by my husband's sister, but we turned it down for those very reasons. A little girl was very upset by that turn of events...

    3. What's your opinion of Margaret right now, having told Mrs. Jennings that Elinor has a beau whose name begins with 'F' and then come to tell Elinor that Willoughby has cut off a lock of Marianne's hair?
    - So how old is Margaret now? Girls in their early teens seem to sometimes have a problem with gossiping and telling secrets as a way of living vicariously through their older siblings/friends. I know cuz I taught a bunch of middle school girls just like that!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mom, I suppose? Maybe she's just still at that age where it's icky to imagine your parents having romantic feelings toward each other?

      I may or may not have had my own tragic past in mind when I wrote question two...

      Margaret is 13, I think? That might be part of it! Having "news" and "secrets" makes her feel important.

      Delete
  4. I think I used to believe that you only fall in love once, I think you kinda grow out of it.

    Definitely not, horses take so much care.

    Margaret sounds like me as a kid, knows more than she should about everyone's business and is dying to tell someone.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Skye, that does sound like the sort of idea one has to grow out of.

      It's hard for me to imagine you being like that as a kid!

      Delete
    2. I think the only difference is I would keep it to myself. I didn't like to cause trouble I just liked knowing things.

      Delete
    3. Skye, that is different. I think Margaret doesn't realize she is talking about private things in public -- I think they led a really sheltered and retired life when they all lived with the uncle. So this might be Margaret's first experience with meeting lots of new people, and how to behave around them.

      Delete
  5. 1. Marianne is very immature and full of preconceived ideas and blindly in love with Willoughby and cannot see beyond her 'love bubble'.

    2. If someone offered me a horse, I would refuse as I no longer ride. I also know the cost of the upkeep of a horse: stable, field, vet's bills, the smithy that puts on the horseshoes. When I was younger, I had a horse.

    3. Margaret is very young and wants to share everything she has seen and heard without thinking of the consequences that may have.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sandra, I love how you put that! She is full of preconceived ideas. She simply hasn't encountered enough life yet, I think.

      I never had a horse, for the exact reason that Marianne doesn't -- an uncle offered me one, but we had nowhere to keep it and no money to provide for it. Such is life.

      And I like your charitable interpretation of Margaret too :-)

      Delete
  6. I went for a walk in the country(ish) with a friend yesterday and we stopped for a bit to pet this small white horse. It was awesome. So I would *want* to accept a horse if someone offered, but I'd have nowhere to put it and would find it pretty much impossible to afford (I'm guessing).

    Also, thanks for highlighting that quote about Colonel Brandon!! I hadn't noticed it before, but it just shoots him up in my estimation all the more. <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Eva, yeah, horses really do cost a goodly chunk of money unless you happen to live on a farm with a pasture and a barn, etc. A friend of mine in high school had all that, and had her own horse, and caring for it was basically like having a part-time job!

      Isn't Col. Brandon a dear?

      Delete
  7. 1. How do you think Marianne has reconciled her conviction that people can never fall in love a second time with the fact that her own mother was her father's second wife?

    - Oftentimes with young people, their parents are always the exception to the rule. Marianne is also of the mind that everyone thinks like her as well.

    2. If someone offered to give you a horse, would you take it?

    - I would love too, but Elinor was right that a horse was rather in inconvenience and an expense. However, I would love to have a horse and learn how to ride.

    3. What's your opinion of Margaret right now, having told Mrs. Jennings that Elinor has a beau whose name begins with 'F' and then come to tell Elinor that Willoughby has cut off a lock of Marianne's hair?

    - Margaret is so sweet! It's hard not to like her. As Margaret is quite a bit younger than her sisters, she seems to be lonely. The story never mentions Margaret making friends or the children from the village coming to the cottage to see her. So, she will grab any opportunity to be seen and heard. There's no malcontent in her at all. She's just a little girl who is trying to live in a very adult dominated world, while still holding on to the sweetness of childhood.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ivy Miranda, oh, that's a cool idea that maybe Marianne sees her parents as the exception, not the rule! That's a kind thought.

      If I had the space, money, and time, I would love to have a horse. However, I've never had all three of those at the same time. Yet!

      I bet you're right that Margaret is lonely! I hadn't thought of that. I think the Middleton children are in single-digits, and since Margaret doesn't go to school and they don't live near the village, she really just has her sisters. Which may have been the case in the past too, but... the move would have made things hard for her too.

      Delete
  8. Hey, sorry I fell off of the face of the planet there with reading! I need to get my act together and catch up!
    It makes me so happy when there is friendship without any romantic intentions between a gentleman and a lady in Jane Austen’s books! Elinor and Brandon are on that list with Lizzy and Mr. Bingley now. I love how you said that Jane Austen was obviously making a point that “being in love” does NOT translate to being a snob and rude to everyone!

    1. I’m struck by how weirdly I am like Marianne right here because I tend to have interesting feelings about loving once but, ironically, I am also in quite a similar situation with my family. Surely gives me stuff to think about!

    2. I am not responsible enough to own a pet probably...in addition to all of the other factors.

    3. I always feel like Margaret just gets left out so she is seeking attention, and while that’s not great I do feel bad for her.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. MC, well, it's very handy how these posts will just be around for years and you can catch up as you're able ;-)

      I love platonic m/f friendships too! Austen does them so well. There's a good one in Persuasion too, between Anne Elliot and Captain Benwick.

      And yes, poor Margaret. I mean, she's not even in a huge chunk of the book because the other two go off to London without her. It stinks to be the youngest sometimes.

      Delete

What do you think?

Comments on old posts are always welcome!

(Rudeness and vulgar language will not be tolerated.)