|GR: Motherhood, JA and TGD
Written by Tori Marie
(10/26/2003 3:01 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, GR: Motherhood, penned by Myretta
I actually found myself being reminded of several of JA's mothers during this chapter, Myretta. What really surprised me was how this disposed me to think a little less ill of them--a very little less ill in some cases ;-)--than was previously the case.
One thing that really made an impression in this chapter was how all-consuming motherhood was at that time. I had always assumed that because some women employed wet nurses and baby nannies that they were not as involved in the day-to-day business of child care as women of our own time. I'm happy to be proven wrong about that. ;-)
So how does that change my impressions of JA's mothers? Well, it sheds light on the instant friendship which springs up between Lady Middleton and Fanny Dashwood, for one thing. Of course it would be natural for these two women to connect in this way. Their cheif concerns are similar. While I still see Lady Middleton as overly-indulgent and think Fanny uses her son as an excuse to justify her own greed at times, I understand why the two of them get along so well. They share a common focus that is all-consuming.
This also makes it easier to understand why Lady Middleton prefers the Steeles to the Dashwood daughters. The Dashwoods are honest and real--perhaps a little too honest in Marianne's case ;-)--and have little regard for Lady Middleton's spoiled brood. The Steeles, on the other hand, are not only scheming, but are also anxious to make a good impression and they see that doting on Lady Middleton's children is perhaps the easiest way to do that. Again, I'd always seen that Lady M was taken in by the Steeles, but now I guess I have a better understanding of why that may have been. After reading Vickery's account, it seems absolutely incredible that a woman in Lady M's situation would not be taken in by two ladies coming into the home and fawning over her little ones. It's the ultimate flattery, isn't it?
Some of the other impressions that have softened are:
~Isabella Knightley's worry over her children's health. Indeed, now I wonder that she was able to make the trip to Hartfield at all. ;-) And the trip to the seashore for the little girl's health! I am all astonishement that they were able to take such a trip with that family and fully understand Mr. Woodhouse's apprehensions.
~Mrs. Palmer's haste in getting little Thomas out of the house when Marianne's condition was understood. I even understand her concern over what turned out to be redgum earlier on. Further, does anyone think she went to London on purpose for her confinement, in order to have a better choice of physicians? I'd always figured she was just too social to be kept home for such a trifle as childbirth, but now I wonder if that's not so.
~All the concern over Mrs. Weston's pregancy. Of course Mr. Woodhouse was worried!
I have more instances to discuss--some of which have made me like one of JA's mothers less than I had before--but I'll let someone else have their share for a bit. Besides, my baby just fell asleep in my arms and I must go lay him down. :-)
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