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Written by Barbara
(3/31/2008 3:47 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, I'll give Mr. Woodhouse the benefit of the doubt, penned by Joan Ellen
I don't think Mr. Woodhouse is feigning or pretending to feel something he does not. I just think he has gotten in the habit of considering himself to be ill and so he still feels and thinks that even though there is no real infirmity there. I don't see Mr. Knightley believing he is ill so much as humouring him because what good would it do to try and talk him out of it? He's a sweet, loveable old guy and no one wants to contradict or upset him.
This thread made me think of Moliere's Imaginary Invalid (in which I had a role in our university theatre production). The title character is always consulting his apothecary. He also has two daughters, the eldest of whom wants to marry a young man her father does not approve (Instead he wants her to marry a doctor so he will always have one nearby). Certainly Argan (the imaginary invalid) is nothing like the sweet-tempered and kind like Mr. Woodhouse, but his behaviour with respect to his illness has similarities.
To himself he says "Mr. Purgon (one of his physicians) told me that I was to walk twelve times to and fro in my room every morning, but I forgot to ask him whether it should be lengthways or across."
and this little scene reminded me of Mr. Woodhouse a lot:
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