Um, so, yeah. Exciting times in these two chapters, eh? First, Marianne almost succumbs to a terrible fever, which Mrs. Jennings suspects is a "putrid" fever. My annotated copy says that means she thinks she probably thinks it's typhus. So you can understand why Mrs. Palmer evacuates her baby as swiftly as possible! They did understand that being near a sick person could spread that disease to you, even if germs weren't quite understood yet at this time.
And once again, hurrah for Mrs. Jennings! I love how she, "with a kindness of heart which made Elinor really love her, declared her resolution of not stirring from Cleveland as long as Marianne remained ill" (p. 574). What an absolute wonder she is.
Oh, quick note about them calling the apothecary for Marianne, since my mom asked me what was up with that. According to the annotated edition, "The apothecary was the most basic medical practitioner, who would respond to normal illnesses, give advice, and prescribe medicines" (p. 573). Elsewhere, it explains that when someone got sick, you would first try home remedies, and most women had at least some experience nursing ill people because most illnesses would be treated at home. And home remedies were generally about as effective as a doctor's for most things, honestly.
So you would maybe call an apothecary to get some medicines or remedies you didn't have on hand, but you only called a physician in very extreme cases. Physicians had attended school to learn medicine, and they treated illnesses, but didn't do surgery. Surgeons did surgery, and they tended to have the most medical training, but they didn't treat illnesses, just did things like stitching up wounds and amputating limbs and other surgical things. ANYWAY, that's why they called the apothecary, who was kind of like our pharmacists today, but did house calls? And why they talk about sending for an actual physician when Marianne gets worse. They probably would have had to send to a large town or even to London to get one of those.
But all within a few pages, the danger is past and Marianne is recovering, whew. I'm really glad Austen doesn't drag this out for chapter after chapter. Aren't you? I think that could be a big temptation for an author to milk the illness for lots of drama, but Austen knows their lives are dramatic enough already without a prolonged illness.
And then she just tosses Willoughby into the very end of the chapter, like *BOOM!*
And now, yeah, any shred of sympathy I might maybe have been feeling for Willoughby are completely blown out of sight by his absolute self-absorbtion. Notice that he's not here to check on Marianne and make sure she's okay, or even to ask how she's doing. He's only here because he can't bear the idea that she might die while thinking badly of him. Everything he says is focused on himself, his feelings, his desires. It's a giant pity party he tries to disguise as concern for Marianne, and I am just... done with him. He even flat out says that the reason he came himself instead of just writing a letter was because it "was necessary to [his] own pride" (p. 604). So at least he's self-aware enough to realize that, but still. Ugh.
Elinor is pretty done with him too, I think. She even scolds him, pointing out, "You have made your own choice. It was not forced on you. Your wife has a claim to your politeness, to your respect" (p. 614). From Elinor, that's a pretty fierce scolding.
And here we are again, with people making Elinor relay news for them. Prevously, Colonel Brandon asked her to tell Marianne all his revelations about Willoughby's mistreatment of his ward. Then he asks Elinor to offer the living at Delaford to Edward. And now Willoughby wants Elinor to tell Marianne he really did love her and never intended to seduce her. Poor Elinor! All these hard messages to relate. Yeesh.
Anyway. Good-bye, Willoughby, and good riddance.
1. Why do people keep making Elinor give other people messages and news?
2. Do you have any sympathy left for Willoughby by now? Do you think I'm being too harsh on him?