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|Contempt for the Conquered
Written by Robbin
(10/7/2010 8:48 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Bitterness, penned by Ramya
Henry’s escapades with the Miss Bertrams turned out to his advantage so I do not see any bitterness in his speech about them in Ch. 30. I think, perhaps, he has been influenced by the Admiral to have little respect for women in general. Henry categorizes women into those who deserve respectful treatment and those who do not but it is only the young pretty ones who are in danger. Of his plan to put a hole in Fanny’s heart he says “It was bad, very bad in me against such a creature; but I did not know her then” (30) however no such regrets for the Miss Bertrams. Mary asked how they will feel about his marriage and he responds:
“I care neither what they say nor what they feel. They will now see what sort of woman it is that can attach me, that can attach a man of sense. I wish the discovery may do them any good. (30)
I agree this is contempt. Maria & Julia never stood a chance with Henry because he quickly determined they could never be more than ‘an amusement to his sated mind’ (12) and it was their behavior that convinced him of it. At Sotherton, especially at the locked gate, and later in the play Henry led a willing Maria step by step from inappropriate conversation to the many embraces as Agatha & Frederick. Their dalliance reminds me of this advice from the Conduct and Behavior section of A Father’s Legacy to His Daughter (1774) by John Gregory, which if Maria ever read it, she surely ignored it:
Consider every species of indelicacy in conversation, as shameful in itself, and as highly disgusting to us… Virgin purity is of that delicate nature, that it cannot hear certain things without contamination. It is always in your power to avoid these. No man, but a brute or a fool, will insult a woman with conversation which he sees gives her pain; nor will he dare to do it, if she resent the injury with a becoming spirit. –There is a dignity in conscious virtue which is able to awe the most shameless and abandoned of men.
You will be reproached perhaps with prudery… men will complain of your reserve. They will assure you that a franker behavior would make you more amiable. But trust me, they are not sincere when they tell you so. (Pages 34 to 36)
Henry led Maria into the wilderness but he did not like her any better for going despite it being his idea. (:D) A Father’s Legacy to His Daughter can be found on-line but be advised the letter S is shaped like an uncrossed F:
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