Tuesday, March 9, 2021

S&S Read-Along: Ch. 7 & 8

I don't have tons to say about these chapters.  We get to know Sir John and Lady Middleton a bit more, and they're both kind of shallow people.  But at least they're kind (Sir John) and polite (Lady Middleton) -- they're like reverse images of John and Fanny Dashwood, aren't they?  Like a photograph and the negative.  

And then there's Mrs. Jennings.  Um, yeah, I'd probably run away and hide from her if I met her in real life.  Or I would have, in my teens.  I might handle her better now that I'm an old married woman of forty.  I mean, Mrs. Dashwood seems pretty chill around her, and she's forty.  Anyway, as a book character, Mrs. Jennings makes me laugh because she's quite absurd and funny.  

You know what I'm not amused by, though?  Marianne's constant harping on how old Colonel Brandon is, and how insistent she is that nobody who's older than about twenty can ever be passionately in love.  Like, I get that she's seventeen, and she's a big fan of emotions and being guided by emotions and feeling emotions to the utmost... but wow, she's way harsh here.  Though I might be a little extra offended by her because Col. Brandon is possibly my favorite character in the book.  Definitely ties with Elinor, and maybe surpasses her.  We'll see how I feel by the end of this read-through.

Randomly, reading chapter seven inspired me to have a picnic with my kids at lunchtime today.  I didn't have any cold ham or chicken, so we had to make do with pizza, but hey.  Go with what you've got!

Discussion Questions:

1.  Why do you think Lady Middleton is so different in temperament and behavior from her mother, Mrs. Jennings?

2.  The Middleton children, and John and Fanny's son, are all described pretty unflatteringly so far.  In fact, I'd probably call all of them brats.  What might Austen be saying about child-rearing in "good society" by this portrayal?

20 comments:

  1. Marianne definitely shows her age here. I'm well over twenty and still very much single and I'm glad I didn't have to grow up with marriage being my only goal. I would run away from Mrs. Jennings too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Skye, yes, we're blessed to have a lot more options for supporting ourselves than finding a husband or having a big enough inheritance that we don't need one.

      Mrs. Jennings is kinda fearsome.

      Delete
  2. I said I wouldn't re-read but I do have two copies of the book so I did and probably will read some more of it. I think I would have preferred to discuss four chapters at once instead of two considering the chapters are so short.

    But yes Mrs. Jennings, she seems so kind and yet so nosy. I would avoid her too if there's no other company. But I'm sure I would prefer her over Fanny any time.

    I'm also annoy with Marianne for Colonel Brandon and I have to say, I kind of not expect Marianne to change her mind about him even a little. But as the book went on, we know there would be a change and still, I don't believe it, not a lot anyway.

    Have a lovely day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lissa, awww, so fun that you're rereading at least part of it after all :-)

      All my previous read-alongs, we've discussed individual chapters, but these are short, as you say, so I decided to try two at once because I thought I'd be able to handle that pace myself. So far, I'm keeping up, but just barely, so this is about as fast as I can sustain. You're always welcome to just read six chapters in one go at the end of the week and then catch up on comments.

      I would definitely prefer Mrs. Jennings to Fanny! Mrs. Jennings isn't devious.

      Delete
  3. Lady Middleton is reserved and polite. Mrs. Jennings is pushy and a busybody. I can completely imagine a teenager wanting to be different than her mom (or perhaps even being embarrassed by her mother - it sounds as if Mrs. Jennings played a significant role in getting her daughter married off).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. AnnMarie, that's a good point, that Lady Middleton might have decided to be as unlike her mother as possible!

      Delete
  4. Replies
    1. Charity, yeeeeeeah. Her only excuse is that she's 17... but when I was 17, I very much appreciated the movie version of Colonel Brandon, so yeah... a fool.

      Delete
  5. Marianne was driving me up the wall! I was starting to believe her whole talk when I realized that (a) 35 is really young and (b) that age difference is only a little bigger than that of my parents. They met when they were older, so I get that Marianne is young (17?! That's only really hitting me this time around! She's young!) but she wasn't being nice about him when he had been the only considerate person to her. Overall, I just love Brandon!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. MC, I have to keep making myself think of some of my friends when I was a teen and reminding myself that yes, I know people who behaved like her. She's very realistic in her idealism... but she tends not to be very kind in her swift judgments on people. And you're right, he clearly takes pains to be attentive to her music when others are basically ignoring her, and she repays him with disdain behind his back and faint politeness to his face. Much to learn.

      Delete
  6. 1) I like the sound of Mrs. Jennings, despite her unconventional way of being. She is natural and that I have always admired. Daughters are not always of the same temperament or behaviour as their mothers. I am much more like my father in my attitude to life!

    2) I have a feeling that Jane Austen herself was not particularly attracted to children and this may have coloured her portrayal of them being mostly 'brats'.

    A lot of talk of age in Chapter 8. I wonder why Marianne keeps on and on about it to the point of my exasperation! As always, Elinor is the voice of reason.

    Marianne and her mother are starting to wonder why Edward Ferrars has not shown an appearance and Elinor is, outwardly, showing no sign of worrying about this.

    I find that having two chapters, that are not too long, is perfect for me and to have the discussions the way you have organised this. I have other interests and passions which take up a lot of my time during the day. I do most of my reading either in the evening in bed or in the early morning (anytime from 5 or 6 am onwards) also in bed with a hot mug of peppermint tea by my side! I usually get up around 7-7.30 am. If we had to read more chapters, I would not be able to keep up. Also, there are usually several subjects to discuss in each chapter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sandra, I can see that view of Mrs. Jennings, that she's unaffected. She's really as unrestrained in her own way as Marianne is.

      Daughters are often different from mothers, it's true. I have one daughter who's very, very like me and one who is very, very different from me.

      Jane Austen was actually a favorite aunt for most of her nieces and nephews. She told them stories, played with them, and was a confidante and mentor for at least once teen niece. I think, however, that she was not at all fond of spoiled children, and so I think her point tends to be that children should not be allowed to behave this way.

      I'm glad this pace is working for you! It is for me too. I won't be posting more until Sunday, to give people time to catch up. I'd like to stick to Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday for posts, though now that I've stated that, it'll probably completely change, lol.

      Delete
  7. 1. Why do you think Lady Middleton is so different in temperament and behavior from her mother, Mrs. Jennings?

    - Probably just a personality. I'm the complete opposite of my mother who is very outgoing. While I'm very reserved.

    2. The Middleton children, and John and Fanny's son, are all described pretty unflatteringly so far. In fact, I'd probably call all of them brats. What might Austen be saying about child-rearing in "good society" by this portrayal?

    - It's not unusual that affluent children to be spoiled because they could literally afford to be spoiled.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ivy Miranda, I think personality is a big part of it, for sure.

      And yes, I think Austen is pointing out that spoiled children are unpleasant in general.

      Delete
  8. 1. Why do you think Lady Middleton is so different in temperament and behavior from her mother, Mrs. Jennings?
    - I agree that there is probably a personality difference, but also I think Lady M is reacting to her mother's personality by being just the opposite.

    2. The Middleton children, and John and Fanny's son, are all described pretty unflatteringly so far. In fact, I'd probably call all of them brats. What might Austen be saying about child-rearing in "good society" by this portrayal?
    - I'm thinking that Austen is writing in response to the way children were raised in that day and time. Having never had children of her own, she was reacting to other people's children as she could only imagine it was like to raise children. I'm thinking also that she herself was raised quite differently than those in this book - very unspoiled.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mom, I would guess that it's probably a bit of both, yeah. We'll see that Lady Jennings' other daughter is a lot more like her.

      Since Austen grew up in a large family that had to take in boarders and even ran a school in their home to supplement her father's income as a minister, I am guessing she encountered a lot of kids during her life and formed some pretty decided opinions on what spoiling would do to a child. As I mentioned in a comment above, she was a favorite aunt for her nieces and nephews and would play with them, make u stories for them, and so on, so I don't think she was anti-child so much as anti-spoiled child.

      Delete
  9. "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." I thought this and her subsequent discussion of his age hilarious. She's 17, its a perfectly reasonable thing to think a man 18 years older is old, to me it would be odd otherwise. I know I would have felt similarly at that age. I disliked this pairing greatly, I find it creepy. I'm 30, 3 years past the 27 incapable of inspiring affection and that section does sting a bit but it's still funny to me.

    1. Why do you think Lady Middleton is so different in temperament and behavior from her mother, Mrs. Jennings?
    She could have gotten it from her father, her sister seems far more like Mrs. Jennings.

    2. The Middleton children, and John and Fanny's son, are all described pretty unflatteringly so far. In fact, I'd probably call all of them brats. What might Austen be saying about child-rearing in "good society" by this portrayal?
    They seemed to be very indulged with not the brightest parents.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Livia Rachelle, I guess I've had a fondness for May-December romances for as long as I've enjoyed romances at all, so I am not at all bothered by it. Sir John and Lady Middleton also have a pretty significant age gap -- thirteen or fourteen years. Austen's brother Henry married a woman ten years older than him. It's weird to us now, but it wasn't at the time.

      Yes, Mrs. Jennings' other daughter is definitely a lot more like her!

      Hey, that's a good point that these particular spoiled children do not have parents who might really understand how spoiling children is not unwise.

      Delete
  10. I must admit, I rather aspire to be a bit like Sir John as far as heading up outings and fun occasions etc ;), though not from any dissatisfaction with my home circle.

    Speaking of which, this time around I noticed how absolutely nonsensical Marianne is. When my DH and I begin our relationship I was 27 and we sealed the deal seven months later when he was 35. So that little part was a tad annoying, but also made me laugh.

    Austen did have a lot to do with her nieces and nephews. Your question here actually made me think of Mansfield Park, where the Bertram cousins are brought up in spoiled affluence (and we all know how that ended) and the Price cousins were brought up with "the advantages of early hardship and discipline, and the consciousness of being born to struggle and endure." I know that's jumping to another book again, I just mention it as it definitely seems to be a recurrent theme in her thought process.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heidi, I do tend to (in ordinary times when we're not dealing with a plague) host gatherings at my house with some regularity, and enjoy including people who might not otherwise get included in such things. And I'm usually the person who says, "Hey, anyone want to meet up at the Shakespeare theater and see a play with me?" or things like that. My parents used to call me the "group activity leader," which is a line from The Parent Trap, but totally fit me.

      I've heard that people who have had happy first marriages are the most-likely widows/widowers to want to get married a second time, so a second marriage actually speaks to the happiness of the first marriage. Someone needs to tell Marianne that, maybe.

      Oh man, yes, those Bertrams. Ugh. And there are Anne Elliot's nieces and nephews in Persuasion who rip things up and climb all over their aunt and break collarbones and such... but also the good little Navy children who are agreeable and fun. So she definitely has Particular Thoughts about children.

      Delete

What do you think?

Comments on old posts are always welcome!

(Rudeness and vulgar language will not be tolerated.)