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|Letters, Chapter 1
Written by nan duval
(9/26/2010 8:34 p.m.)
My focus this GR is again letters. Generally, letters in literary works are considered to have two purposes: to push along the plot & to illustrate the character of the writer. JA uses letters for these two purposes, but also to demonstrate the characters of recipients & how they use the information in letters to further their own purposes and how these actions forward the plot. There are no verbatim letters in the beginning of the book, but by the end of the second page of the volume I'm using there are references to at least 5 letters. They are like characters who don't speak in their own words, but still have significant effects through their intents, contexts, & recipients.
"To save herself from useless remonstrance, Mrs Price never wrote to her family on the subject till actually married." This brief statement illuminates the youngest sister's wish to remove herself from the shadows & control of her older siblings, only possible by presenting her act as a fait accompli. As it was, instead of enduring their efforts to prevent the match she had only to put up with the result. Neither sister shows understanding or compassion. Lady Bertram's inertia & apathy allows her to turn away from her sister & put her out of her mind. Mrs. Norris can't let it go at that. Her activity does not comprise kindness or support, but writes in return a "long and angry letter" enumerating her sister's folly & its likely ill consequences, I doubt Mrs. Norris' letter included any wishes that the "ill consequences" should be prevented or offered what assistance she could provide to limit those "ill consequences." If she had offered understanding, Mrs. Price might have been spared the injury & anger that led her to write such a bitter response which not only insulted and alienated her sisters, but also Sir Thomas, which, of course, "Mrs. Norris could not possibly keep to herself."
I wonder if she shared the entire letter with Sir Thomas, (along with her own inflammatory letter)or if she only told Sir Thomas that she had felt compelled to inform her sister that she had made a mistake which would cause some problems, but that Mrs Price had responded by insulting both sisters & Sir Thomas. I can see Mrs. Norris downplaying her own antagonism & amplifying her wayward sister's insults.
Immediately on her letter's arrival, peace and kindness are re-established. The Bertrams begin helping the needy family. "Mrs Norris wrote the letters."
Later, after Mrs Norris pushes through her plan to bring on Fanny, Mrs. Norris writes the letter to Mrs. Price, who writes back her acquiescence, describes Fanny as "a well disposed, good-humoured girl" but somewhat "delicate and puny" but likely to benefit from "change of air".
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