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|If wishes were horses...
Written by Robbin
(4/1/2006 4:13 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Oh what fools these mortals be!, penned by Carolyn
Dress was her passion. She had a most harmless delight in being fine; and our heroine’s entree into life could not take place till after three or four days had been spent in learning what was mostly worn, and her chaperone was provided with a dress of the newest fashion. (Chapter 2)
Oh how Catherine must have chafed at this delay of adventure due to a most harmless delight in being fine—so near and yet so far! I would have to vote for Mrs. Allen although presently, I feel she is more foolish in her choices of subject, her preoccupation with fashion and the importance she gives it, rather than a clownish fool. Perhaps she excludes a more naive artless slightly self-centered foolishness. I found it quite funny that Mrs. Allen probably feels the first ball a success because she saw no one wearing a gown which she liked better than her own!
She is certainly kind to Catherine to invite her but there is much advantage to Mrs. Allen also and this surely played some part in the invitation—Catherine is a companion and a reason, if one be needed for a childless woman, to be constantly at balls. On the other hand, perhaps it was suggested by Mr. Allen who seems to have no fondness for ballrooms or tea in public. I love the reason the narrator attributes the invitation:
Mr. Allen…and his lady, a good–humoured woman, fond of Miss Morland, and probably aware that if adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad, invited her to go with them. Mr. and Mrs. Morland were all compliance, and Catherine all happiness. (Chapter 1)
Mrs. Allen is also kind in her constant wishing for acquaintance and laments on her unpartnered protégé, “I wish we had a large acquaintance here - I wish you could dance, my dear — I wish you could get a partner,” but to say the truth I do not know if Mrs. Allen could do anything else about it other than, wish, lament, or perhaps obtain some kind of assistance from her husband—does he also know no one is Bath? I do not think she can request from the Master of Ceremonies likely gentlemen for introduction and dancing! I love how JA attributes what is bound to happen eventually in a crowded city of which the basic activities are either the pursuit of pleasure or making the pursuit of pleasure possible by visitors appear a consequence of Mrs. Allen’s thoughtful hamster-like wheel-turning sentiments—no offence intended to the dignity of Mrs. Allen or amiable hamsters!
This sentiment had been uttered so often in vain that Mrs. Allen had no particular reason to hope it would be followed with more advantage now; but we are told to “despair of nothing we would attain,” as “unwearied diligence our point would gain”; and the unwearied diligence with which she had every day wished for the same thing was at length to have its just reward, for hardly had she been seated ten minutes before… (Chapter 3)
I really hope I am not wrong about Mrs. Allen—how could she do any of the following to a young woman she so often wishes only good things for?!! :D
It is now expedient to give some description of Mrs. Allen, that the reader may be able to judge in what manner her actions will hereafter tend to promote the general distress of the work, and how she will, probably, contribute to reduce poor Catherine to all the desperate wretchedness of which a last volume is capable — whether by her imprudence, vulgarity, or jealousy — whether by intercepting her letters, ruining her character, or turning her out of doors.
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