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|James is a disappointment...
Written by Robbin
(5/3/2006 10:41 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, What do you think about James now?, penned by Maisy
In his letter James speaks of his duty to Catherine to inform her of the end of his engagement and he does that but I feel this is too much of a “poor me” letter and not enough of an “I learned my lesson” letter and I think it is a shame to speak of duty to Catherine when he so neglected his duty as an older brother to her in Bath. IMO his duty at this moment to secure Catherine’s sympathy and compassion as well as inform her of his changed situation. I think it would be easier for me to forgive James being fooled by the Thorpe’s if he had been the protective brother he should have to Catherine—then I could see in his heart he harbors the right sentiments. However that is not the case, he finds his sweet and naïve little sister in Bath and instead of looking out for her best interests as a big brother should, when James had to choose between him and Catherine, he always chose himself.
“Yes, very kind; I never was so happy before; and now you are come it will be more delightful than ever; how good it is of you to come so far on purpose to see me.” --- James accepted this tribute of gratitude, and qualified his conscience for accepting it too, by saying with perfect sincerity, “Indeed, Catherine, I love you dearly.” (Chapter 7)
I never quite understood the need for this lie of omission, how could it have hurt Catherine to know his first object in coming to Bath had been to see his friends sister if he was really glad to see his sister and loves her dearly? Of course Catherine never knows of it but the reader does—JA wants us to see this little deceit of James. He is not opposed to a bit of dishonesty if it is in his own best interest to do so—along the lines of not creating trouble or discomfort for himself—taking the easy way out of a situation. I think self interest weighs a little heavier with James than it should and that is why he never understands that it was wrong to pressure Catherine to give up her walk with Miss Tilney when she first, does not want to and second, feels it is the wrong thing to do? James puts Catherine into a carriage with his friend not because she wants it but because it serves his purposes. Catherine was willing to go on the carriage ride another day but James did not want to wait so the sacrifice or delay of Catherine’s wants is put behind his own. His easy acceptance of JT’s liberties in going against Catherine’s wishes and speaking for Catherine to Miss Tilney just tells me that neither man thinks the wishes of a sister is of much consequence.
In the end I have to think that James is actually more like the Thorpe’s than he is like Catherine. JT is obviously not very nice to his mother and his sisters but James is not actually very considerate of Catherine either, it is just less obvious. James also reminds me of Mr. Collins because he cannot see Isabella never had a real attachment to him and her desire all along was to secure a future with a husband of good fortune. He is a bit of a dunderhead to still have the illusion that she is the woman that he thought she was; he seems unable to grasp the idea that it was all pretend. Is this just vanity working on a weak mind? James was completely taken in by the shallow flatteries of Isabella and glorified pretensions of JT and even after what Isabella does to him he still cannot see either her or JT for what they are. James is not all bad, but unfortunately, James' self-interest, vanity, and pride seems to be not regulated by the common sense which finally lets Catherine see that her gothic fantasies are just that, fantasies. :D
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