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|Family Relationships: Chapter1 - the Morlands
Written by kathleen (elder)
(3/1/2009 10:14 a.m.)
Catherine's father, Mr. Morland, was "a very respectable man, though his name was Richard — and he had never been handsome." And Catherine's mother "was a woman of useful plain sense, with a good temper ... ."
I love the Austen-family joke about "Richard," but we do learn immediately that Catherine's father is respectable and her mother is good-tempered & sensible: this should be an indication that any difficulties in Catherine's future will not be caused by incompetent/tyrannical parents.
The narrator continues the satire on a heroine's expected situation by telling us that Mr Morland "was not in the least addicted to locking up his daughters," and Mrs Morland "had three sons before Catherine was born; and instead of dying in bringing the latter into the world, as anybody might expect, she still lived on — lived to have six children more — to see them growing up around her, and to enjoy excellent health herself." Again, we see a normal (imo) family with respectable, sensible, healthy parents.
"A family of ten children will be always called a fine family, where there are heads and arms and legs enough for the number; but the Morlands had little other right to the word, for they were in general very plain ... ." The narrator's joke, again, is that the Morlands (and Catherine amongst them) were not extraordinarily beautiful -- which so many stories might have for the heroine's family. Or, if a typical heroine's family were all plain looking, then it would be primarily as an extreme contrast to the heroine's beauty. Again, we see a normal, ordinary family.
Catherine herself seems to fit well within her family. She was "very kind to the little ones, with few interruptions of tyranny," so she didn't resent being "left to shift" for herself when her mother was busy. There is also no indication that Catherine resented that her next younger sister, Sally, seems to have been a bit quicker with her lessons. Altogether, a pleasant, ordinary family.
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