Jane Austen (was a whole lot of re that I snipped off

Melissa Proffitt Melissa at Proffitt.com
Fri Jun 8 01:52:31 EDT 2001

On Fri, 8 Jun 2001 12:59:04 +0800 (WST), Paul Andinach wrote:

>On Thu, 7 Jun 2001, Melissa Proffitt wrote:
>> The point being that he was most irritated when he felt that she
>> wasn't giving a fair picture of the other side.  Austen seems not to
>> even consider that Mary might be really ill; she mercilessly exposes
>> Mary as a malingerer and a social climber.  If you're on Mary's
>> side, this is very nasty stuff.
>I don't know the book of which you speak well enough to make
>deliberate comment, but this doesn't make sense to me: surely, if Mary
>is a malingerer and a social climber, then she should be treated as

The question is whether she is malingering or genuinely ill.  From Anne
Elliot's point of view (and by extension Jane Austen's) Mary is a
hypochondriac; Ven is suggesting that Mary is actually very sick, and
deserves sympathy rather than derision.  My comment above attempts to see
things the way a person who was sympathetic to Mary might--from that
perspective, Austen is just being mean to a sick person.

I'm sort of in the middle on this: I believe Austen's characterization of
Mary, but I think she does it in a way that makes it possible to feel sorry
for her.  That is, instead of feeling all smug about how much better a
person I am than Mary, I realize that I'm not all that far from being like

Melissa Proffitt
(who really ought to go to sleep now)
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