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with ready sympathy   Written by Stephanie (1/31/2011 12:37 p.m.) in consequence of the missive, And since she had delivered 5 healthy children that, penned by AnnetteJ
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I agree, a healthy Emma would have a difficult time with two people who seem to always have something wrong with them.

But I hazard that Mr. Woodhouse really does have a sensitive stomach, and over time, has found what foods he can and can not ingest easily. After all, nowadays, lactose intolerance and food allergies, syndromes like diverticulitis, and damages caused by alcohol or other substances are easily diagnosed and treated.

His main problem is not his health issues, which by this age he has under control by careful diet, but his inability to notice that others do not have his condition, whatever it may be. Trying to enforce his regimen on others is one of Mr. Woodhouse's 'habits of gentle selfishness.' (ch. 1)

When Jane Austen really dislikes hypochondriacs, she is capable of being much more clear about it. Witness Pride and Prejudice's Mrs. Bennet staying above-stairs with 'nerves' when she is upset, with no one in the family believing she is truly ill. In Emma, however, no one doubts Mr. Woodhouse's complaints are real, so I tend to believe them myself.


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