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|Lies, Lies, Lies Week 3 (Long)
Written by Tarn
(2/12/2011 6:14 a.m.)
Chapter Thirteen:Mr Elton:"'Exactly so, indeed. - She will be missed every moment.'
Chapter Fourteen: The subject of the evening is Frank Churchill, specifically Mr Weston is "expecting Frank...I had a letter from him this morning, and he will be with us within a fortnight"
Chapter Fifteen Mr Elton is delighted to "confess that the nature of her complaint alarmed him considerably" but before he is given any opportunity for further pretense, Mr John Knightley comes in, determined to create "a storm of snow out of the half-inch that had fallen, before the clouds had parted and the wind had dropped and all is hushed tranquility. He is unscrupulous in his attack on Mr Woodhouse "for of course you saw there would be snow very soon" and on his wife. Mr Weston only makes things worse by revealing his lie of omission "lest it should make Mr Woodhouse uncomfortable" and adds to Mr Woodhouse's fictitious comforts with the assurance that "accommodation might be found for everybody."
No lies at all in Chapter Sixteen
Chapter Seventeen Mr Elton's letter has exaggeration in every second clause, but it was not written to deceive Mr Woodhouse, more to communicate his resentment to Emma. No lies in her visit to Harriet, either.
Chapter Eighteen We receive confirmation from Frank Churchill that his previous letter was fodder for his fathers false hopes, and his current letter seems to supply more of the same. Now Emma blames the Churchills for his absence, but presently adds "It is very unfair to judge of any body's conduct, without an intimate knowledge of their situation. We ought to be acquainted with Enscome, and with Mrs Churchill's temper, before we pretend to decide upon what her nephew can do." (not consistent, but while she exaggerates and plays devils advocate, she does not say anything she knows to be untrue).
Chapter Nineteen Emma might feel guilty for failing to call on the Bates, but Miss Bate's supply of comforts does not seem to be scanty - the location of Jane Fairfax's letter underneath Miss Bate's huswife would imply that Emma was rather interrupting their pleasures than augmenting them. We can infer that "The second and third rate of Highbury" include Mrs Cole. We learn again that no letter is private property in Highbury as Mr Elton's letter to Mr Cole is related, and again as Miss Bates takes Emma's implausible "I am extremely happy" to be a "wish to hear what [Jane] says".
Chapter Twenty The narrator tells us of Jane's resolution to do her governessing duty, against the inclinations of her friends, which is very commendable, but adds the less commendable revelation that the "account to her Aunt contained nothing but the truth, though there might be some truths not told." This is followed by hints that Jane's health might not be the real reason for staying in England. The narrator vouches nothing with certainty, preferring to quiz us with the motives of the Campbells for acceding to her decision. (My guess for the three motives would be 1/ Colonel Campbell's concern for Jane's health in making the trip 2/ His wife's concern for Jane's ability to bear the parting from all her friends on departing from Ireland and taking up governessing, given her lack of spirits since losing her dearest friend to marriage 3/ His daughters concern on losing her marriage to her dearest friend.)
I think Emma is a little unfair in blaming Jane for her aunt's behavior - if Jane had ate a hearty breakfast and made no presents, her aunt would have as much to say. Jane's thanks and praise on Emma's playing might be mere politeness, but it doesn't follow that her aim was to show off. Jane might take pleasure in playing and Emma in performing, and one not understand the pleasures of the other.
By the way, I am using the definition of lying given in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy for lies of commission (briefly, there are four conditions: 1. That the lie be uttered, 2. That the utterer believes it to be false, 3. That it be addressed to someone 4. That the utterer intends to deceive the addressee). There are a few deceptions that fall outside this definition (for example, lies of omission), which I include when they are revealed by the narrator or the narrative. There are also plenty of deceptions that are not fully revealed or proved false in the narrative (Mr Elton, in particular, conducts a lot of his courtship by free indirect discourse, which makes it impossible to count the lies).
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