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|'Caro Sposo', JA's characterization of Mrs. E.
Written by BarbaraB
(3/17/2011 2:51 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, I have actually wondered why, penned by Kathleen Glancy
"In a letter written on May 26, 1801, Austen in her dry, playful way advises Cassandra to get ready "due scraps of Italian and French" in order to talk to one Miss Holder, who has heard that Cassandra is "remarkably lively." Mrs. Elton, who is remarkably lively, entertains us with her unstable knowledge of Italian. Evidently her oft-repeated "caro sposo" was a fashionable phrase during the 1770s and 1780s, making her slang badly out of date. She also shows her inability to remember gender agreement, first by calling her husband "Cara Sposa" (feminine for "dear bride") and then by mixing her genders and calling him Cara Sposo. Finally, getting it right and on her third try calls him Caro Sposo, correctly marrying gender and word ending. Perhaps someone corrected her; more likely she just blundered into the correct usage. Mrs. Elton also occasions the derision of Emma and readers by calling her husband Mr. E., yet another indication of her vulgarity."
Note: Apparently, Chapman changed all her usages to caro sposo, (perhaps thinking they were typos?) The pop-up has them all correct I noticed. My book has Mrs. E. using cara sposa, the first mention above, three times. I can't find the second one but the third where she is talking to Mr. Knightley about riding a donkey, the correct usage is finally there. I'm assuming the author must have had a book where that middle usage must have been put back for one of the cara sposas. Anyway, for what it's worth....
By the way, I found the usages in chapters 32, 35 and 42.
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