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|Wow, I must read this Family Record book! (Long)
Written by Robbin
(8/28/2005 9:20 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Mrs Lefroy, penned by JulieW
This description of TF’s censure by his own family does make it seem they found it regretful that an attachment between JA & TL was inappropriate and are embarrassed by his “unguarded conduct” and the “ill usage” of a family friend because all of the sympathy seems to be for JA and none for their own relation. The vexed attitude was certainly unobserved by JA who mentions no evidence of it and in fact is not very reflective of the harmony of family relations in which the “teasing” he receives according to JA about herself in letter 1 would exist. Of course honor may have prevented them from letting JA know of their feelings but it is hard to believe that she would never have observed any inkling of this in her friend Mrs. Lefroy—perhaps later letters will tell a different story.
I believe the impracticality of the match would be foremost in the minds of the Lefroy family and in JA novels (which we see as true to life if a little enhanced at times) guardians do what is best for the family member and family reputation while attachment would be second to those concerns. JA shows in the novels that the appropriateness of a marriage was at least as, if not more important than “love” to society and that “love and marriage” without practicality was considered a disaster for the participants—even the inattentive Mr. Bennet laments for his youngest and silliest daughter Lydia upon her marriage to the despicable Mr. Wickham. Marriages such as the Bennet parents and Charlotte and Mr. Collin’s in P&P are only thought of as unsuccessful by Elizabeth and only slightly by Jane because of their lack of love, respect and companionship. In S&S Marianne and Mrs. Dashwood are portrayed as silly for their over-the-top sensibilities over practicality.
Keeping in mind that practicality over love was the norm, why would the Lefroy’s dwell on the “ill usage” of JA and condemnation of TL rather than to say it was simply a financial decision made in the best interest of each? I do think hindsight could be at work here and can question if they actually related how they came to feel in later years rather than what was said at the time. Perhaps with the rise of JA’s popularity, it came to seem that ending the attachment was a mistake and it may have been easier to put all the blame on TL for his behavior rather than admit they did not recognize the genius and worth of JA who would have been an illustrious addition to any family history—this is a sarcastic thought of mine with not much merit for I have no support for it.
However, the idea of “ill usage” of a lady in various ways and degrees are central to the plots of JA’s novels and is it possible that reading the novels made the Lefroy family more sensitive to how JA must have felt about the whole affair with TL making his conduct appear not just inappropriate but actually cruel so that in the future, when asked, their condemnation of his actions was actually stronger than they were at the time? I do not think this is at all impossible because JA’s characters and situations seem so true to life that someone who actually knew her could not fail to compare what they knew of her own experiences to that which she told of her created people.
To support this idea I would ask if a parallel could be drawn between JA and TL to Louisa Musgrove and Captain Wentworth in P. Louisa is actually ill used (unwittingly) by Capt Wentworth who confesses to Ann in chapter 11 of P, “I had not thought seriously of the subject (marriage)” and “had no right to be trying whether I could attach myself to either of the girls” It is the “had no right” idea which catches my attention although supposedly TL has no right (when he knew full well that he was in no position to think of marriage) due to his financial situation and not a lack of attachment as in the case of Captain Wentworth who “had no right” because he really had no serious intentions towards either of the Musgrove girls.
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