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|Tom Lefroy (Letter 2) and little more on Letter 1 (long)
Written by Robbin
(8/29/2005 2:06 a.m.)
Although everything JA says about TL is said in a more or less amusing manner I do think that there is at least a grain of truthful feelings for him at the heart of it all and I am only speculating on the premise that there was an attachment between them or at the very least a strong attraction…if only we had more letters!
“I look forward with great impatience to it, as I rather expect to receive an offer from my friend in the course of the evening. I shall refuse him however, unless, he promises to give away his white Coat.” -- I feel this statement can hardly be serious considering the praise she heaped upon him in letter 1. It almost seems as if she is saying she would not marry him even if asked and therefore the fact that he will not ask her is of no consequence—do not worry about me. Perhaps this is a reaction to the fact that he is leaving and she knows there is no hope for a future with him? I really don’t think that she would have had any real feelings for just a pretty face so that the idea of an impractical coat denoting an impractical man hardly fits. The only way that this could be a serious statement in which she does in fact expect an offer of marriage would be if she actually has hope that there is a future for them together. We know it never works out but is she young enough to think it might? Do we think JA would have ever been young and naive enough to believe this?
(A new thought on the white coat) This may be going too far but does she compare TL wearing the same color coat as Tom Jones did when he was wounded because she believes TL also feels he carries a wound—in his heart? Is this a romantic display—notion that she and TL share together because they are to be separated. In order for her to know of his admiration for TJ they must have discussed the novel and white coats so perhaps it had more meaning than just impractical to keep clean? She says the coat is too light (not too impractical.) By the time she writes about the coat as a badge of the walking wounded it is after she has learned that he is leaving—this sounds like something Marianne and Willoughby would do.
“Tell Mary that I make over…all my other Admirers…as I mean to confine myself in future to Mr. Tom Lefroy, for who I donot care a sixpence." --I see this as potentially a very sad statement to mean that it is TL or nothing and she already knows it will not be TL so she is actually giving up on love or it is a declaration of love with humor to make it less serious.
“…proof of Warren’s indifference to me, that he actually drew that Gentleman’s picture for me, & delivered it to me without a Sigh." --She receives a portrait of TL—to have a portrait of someone was to suggest a particular attachment to that person, so maybe they thought the upcoming separation would be only for a short while but she makes very light of it using the portrait as proof of another gentleman’s indifference rather than a proof of a certain gentleman’s affection so again I am of the feeling that this is self mockery but as to why I am not sure. Maybe this is a defense mechanism or as someone in another thread, on another board said, “…she just liked to amuse her sister.”
“At length—the day is come that I will flirt my last with Tom Lefroy, & when you receive this it will be over—My tears flow as I write, at the melancholy idea." --The fact that she notes this day more than once in her letters shows that it did have meaning for her and I do feel that this is a real emotion although she is able to joke and mock herself. I think it could have been a real disappointment. I believe someone said she went on to begin “First Impression” or P&P as it would become, shortly after this episode of her life and it is not a sad story (or something to that effect, sorry could not find it to quote) and this is true but it is also true that P&P deals a lot of heartbreak and a suspiciously high dose of gentlemen who are the cause of it through the supposed or actual “ill usage” in varying degrees of the ladies in P&P.
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