Wednesday, April 7, 2021

S&S Read-Along: Ch. 27 & 28

Oh, Marianne.  You poor thing.  It's not at all shocking that you're confused by Willoughby's behavior and feeling faint.  It's such a good thing that Elinor came along to London to take care of you!

It strikes me as a little... ironic?  funny? that Colonel Brandon is basically turning into the epitome of a Romantic hero, pining away for an unattainable love and making himself a bit despondent in the process... and Marianne can't see it.  Sigh.

Okay, something I learned from my annotated edition this time around, regarding shaking hands.  It says that men and women would only shake hands with someone of the opposite sex who was closely connected to them by blood or marriage, or impending marriage.  So Marianne wanting to shake hands with Willoughby shows that she basically considers herself to be engaged with him, whereas his refusal to shake hands with her is basically his rejecting any such close connection.  Which people in Austen's day would totally have understood, since this was the common rule of propriety at the time, but we don't really get, so I'm glad the book mentioned it, and I'm passing that along.

It's so interesting that Elinor feels that her own situation, of never being able to marry Edward, is now better and/or more comfortable than Marianne's, because at least she doesn't have to feel ashamed of him for doing the right thing by standing by his previous promises to Lucy Steele.  Whereas, Willoughby has dropped Marianne like a hot potato, and you just can't think well of a guy who'll do that.  It's a very small bit of comfort, but comfort nonetheless.

Discussion Questions:

1.  How do you think this would have all proceeded if Elinor had stayed home?  Would Marianne have behaved any differently?

2.  Do you think better of Lady Middleton now, because she was willing to abandon her own pursuit of entertainment to take Marianne and Elinor home early from the party?  Was this kindness, or only good manners?

15 comments:

  1. 1. How do you think this would have all proceeded if Elinor had stayed home? Would Marianne have behaved any differently?

    I don't know, I could see how the shock and suddenness of the end may have been a good thing, but then I could see how Willoughby staying away and perhaps Marianne growing out of it could be softer. Thinking of my own crush that was abruptly ended at 17, I struggled for months and months, and I didn't forgive for years and years and years later, but I wasn't at all about to let go even at 3-4 years of it, and that was a purely one-sided thing, with Marianne's it was two-sided.

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    1. Livia, I had a crush on the same guy all through my teenage years, and we never got together, and it was really hard to get over him when I finally had to, at 19, so yeah... I do sympathize with Marianne a lot.

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    2. I stopped liking him once I knew he was someone else's, it was just traumatic to process it all as his girlfriend was another girl within a small church, I struggled with misery for months and bitterness for years although I had no right while Marianne had every right and expectation.

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    3. Livia, that is very hard indeed :-(

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  2. I some how dislike Willoughby more now than before. I didn't know anything about the hand shaking. I thought Willoughby was being a jerk because he had decided to disassociate himself from Marianne but now I understood it a bit more.

    I'm sad for Elinor but at least her man is a little more of a gentleman.

    I like Colonel Brandon more now. The poor guy can't get a break. I honestly don't think he should like Marianne. He deserves someone a little more mature and maybe someone who understands him better. Before I thought Marianne is a bad match for him but now I'm certain she is a bad match. But I guess that's men for you - they always go for the young and the spirited (this might not be the right term) and the more likely to hurt them.

    Have a lovely day.

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    1. Lissa, oh, feel free to dislike Willoughby more and more through the next few chapters. Absolutely. He keeps sinking and sinking in everyone's estimation, including ours.

      I do sometimes feel like maybe Col. Brandon enjoys pining for seemingly unattainable women, just a little bit?

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    2. (By which I meant, maybe Col. Brandon feels like he's not worthy of bright and vivacious young ladies somehow, but he thinks they're wonderful and falls for them even though he thinks he can never have them.)

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  3. 1.  How do you think this would have all proceeded if Elinor had stayed home?  Would Marianne have behaved any differently?

    - Marianne would probably have been more demanding and rash without Elinor to keep her in line

    2.  Do you think better of Lady Middleton now, because she was willing to abandon her own pursuit of entertainment to take Marianne and Elinor home early from the party?  Was this kindness, or only good manners?

    - Not really. Marianne has committed social suicide on her part and I think she was desperate to get rid of both girls as fast as possible

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    1. Ivy, very possibly. And I think she would have ended up offending/insulting Mrs. Jennings without Elinor there to kind of mediate and keep her in line.

      Interesting take on Lady Middleton. I think she maybe wasn't taking Marianne away immediately just out of the goodness of her heart, but it would be very expected of her to acquiesce if anyone she had brought said they weren't feeling well -- not doing so would have been seen as rude, and she is very careful never to be rude.

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  4. I'd never thought that, about Colonel Brandon becoming like a Romantic hero! I'm sure that was done intentionally on Jane Austen's part. =) Oh, and I totally agree with Elinor about it being a comfort that at least she doesn't have to be ashamed of Edward.

    Marianne would have almost certainly died if Elinor hadn't come along. She would have just let her grief spiral downward, not have eaten anything, and when she got so sick at the Palmers' place, wouldn't have had any cheerful reminders of home and why she should exert herself to get better.

    My opinion anyway. ;)

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    1. Eva, yeah, I definitely think Austen made Brandon take that path on purpose.

      Sometimes I wonder if Marianne would have been quite so violently afflicted if she didn't have an audience, meaning if she didn't have to prove how upset she is. But on the whole, I agree Elinor's being there is very important and necessary.

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  5. I think Marianne would have really embarrassed herself, forgetting she has an audience here. She's clearly desperate (understandably so) to find out right now what's going on, as Willoughby should've already let her know of his change in feelings instead of dragging this out.
    I think this scene, and ultimately, all of Marianne's behavior since they arrived at Mrs. Jenning's, really shows her youth here. I suspect that reactions to breakups are often more dramatic in teens than in grownups in general, and Marianne is no exception to that.

    I do really like Jane Austen's timing here with Colonel Brandon just having given up any hope of succeeding with Marianne, and now this happens with Willoughby. We feel so sorry for him here, but that doesn't last long, as now there's a chance for him again;)

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    1. Becky W, I definitely think Elinor's guidance and kind of insistence on propriety and civility does keep Marianne from getting into a truly embarrassing or even dangerous situation. Who knows but that Willoughby would have tried to carry on with Marianne a while in London, but because Elinor is there too (and he has always said he values/appreciates/realizes how level-headed and such she is), that's not an option.

      And yeah, Marianne's youngness definitely has a lot to do with her behavior and reactions. One wonders what Elinor was like when she was 17 instead of 19.

      And yes, what happy timing for Brandon!

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  6. I think Elinor did keep Marianne from doing something embarrassing. Marianne seems to forget manners and propriety so I think having Elinor there with her helped at least in that regard.

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