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|Preparing For James
Written by BarbaraB
(4/11/2006 11:51 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, What do you think of James, so far?, penned by Maisy
Upon each NA reading, I tend to get worked up about James so I tried to prepare for his appearance by changing the way I looked at him. I have always felt that as a mother I would have been, if not angry, then at the very least disappointed in James. What occurred to me is that I was looking at it from my point of view as a mother and I should try looking at it from Mrs. Morland's point of view. It always starts with James allowing his sister to go out in the open carriage with a man. I asked myself, what would Mrs. Morland think of this. I payed particualar attention to her character at the beginning of the novel:
1. Mrs. Morland was a very good woman, and wished to see her children everything they ought to be;
2. When the hour of departure (Catherine's) drew near, the maternal anxiety of Mrs. Morland will be naturally supposed to be most severe. This is followed by several sentences where JA goes into Mrs. Morland's lack of the cliched traits of a typical gothic heroine's mother. Merely: Her cautions were confined to the following points. "I beg, Catherine, you will always wrap yourself up very warm about the throat, when you come from the Rooms at night; and I wish you would try to keep some account of the money you spend;---I will give you this little book on purpose."
3. The Morlands in general: Every thing indeed relative to this important journey was done, on the part of the Morlands, with a degree of moderation and composure, which seemed rather consistent with the common feelings of common life,...
Mrs. Morland seems to be a loving, caring mother who is basically practical by nature. She has so many children that it is difficult for her to be overly involved in each individual child's life but only so much once they reach an age to be even remotely independent.
Another thing is that I read the following passage in WHAT JANE AUSTEN ATE AND CHARLES DICKENS KNEW: "In Jane Austen's era, Evangelicalism had not yet cast its blight over everyday middle-class and upper-class life, and clothes were gaily colored and tight fitting---in women's cases sometimes damped down with water to hug the body---and unmarried men and women could sometimes socialize or go for carriage rides together, unchaperoned, as do Catherine Morland and Mr. Tilney in Northanger Abbey, without damage to reputations or anyone feeling that the country had succumbed to immorality." I haven't come to the part where Henry and Catherine are in the carriage together so I don't remember all the details, open or not/etc., but this passage does seem to shed light that maybe this once that John abstained from showing his concern was not so very bad a thing for Catherine particulary as she herself has decided she should avoid it in the future.
While Catherine feels uncomfortable about riding in an open carriage and has her suspicions about it being wrong and it is supported by Mr. Allen, perhaps (just specualating) there was some transition taking place about the tradition of women in open carriages with men which had not yet reached their little village. In any case, I have come to the conclusion that Mrs. Morland most likely would not have been too put out with the fact that James did not seem concerned about his sister riding in the carriage with John Thorpe. I do have another concern, though, with James as regards his sister which I will post under Maisy's thread above.
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