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|Duty goes on as well
Written by Robbin
(1/31/2010 4:19 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Life goes on..., penned by MarianneR
I think JA may have felt that exertion in duty was a source of comfort to oneself in difficult, even terrible times, specifically in doing for others. She writes “these are early days indeed to think of moderation in grief” in Fanny or Edward but that “soon” she hoped Fanny’s “sense of duty to that beloved father will rouse her to exertion”. I note she says soon rather than now. I get the feeling from this letter that Edward is very bad off. When Jane’s father died she worried about her mother’s health:
“My mother is tolerably well; she bears up with great fortitude, but I fear her health must suffer under such a shock.” (Le Faye, Letter 41)
Perhaps Edward’s behavior inspires similar fears. Jane writes what seems to be a synopsis of Edward’s behavior: “poor Edward, restless in misery, going from one room to another, and perhaps not seldom upstairs, to see all that remains of his Elizabeth” so it seems he is drawn to the body again and again. It is a pitiful picture indeed.
Elinor sat down to her drawing-table as soon as he was out of the house, busily employed herself the whole day, neither sought nor avoided the mention of his name, appeared to interest herself almost as much as ever in the general concerns of the family, and if, by this conduct, she did not lessen her own grief, it was at least prevented from unnecessary increase, and her mother and sisters were spared much solicitude on her account. (S&S, Ch. 19)
I wonder if Jane fears Fanny is too much the opposite of tranquil and resigned and does not want it to go on for a prolonged period of time? Jane asks Cassandra if Fanny is able to “feel you to be a comfort to her, or is she too much overpowered for anything but solitude?” I do not wish to suggest Fanny is a “Marianne Dashwood” in her grief or compare their different situations but it seems Jane wishes her to exert herself (as Elinor wished Marianne to exert herself) not only for the sake of her father but also as a way to help herself as well:
…but soon we may hope that our dear Fanny's sense of duty to that beloved father will rouse her to exertion. For his sake, and as the most acceptable proof of love to the spirit of her departed mother, she will try to be tranquil and resigned.
Dearest Fanny must now look upon herself as his prime source of comfort, his dearest friend; as the being who is gradually to supply to him, to the extent that is possible, what he has lost. This consideration will elevate and cheer her.
I think it is natural that Jane would wish to guide Fanny, if needed, in her duty towards her father. (:D)
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