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
>such? 

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
her.

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