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Written by BarbaraB
(3/1/2009 11:22 p.m.)
The settings and background are obviously a major factor in NA. The first setting is "Fullerton, the village in Wiltshire where the Morelands lived". The parents are good hearted, sturdy, practical people who for all intents and purposes want to see their brood of ten turn into well-rounded young men and women with good principles and sound character. They are placed in the country with a population of forty families or so with whom they do not seem to interact socially to the extent of having balls and such. With the mother constanly 'in-waiting', and little ones coming along like an assembly line, this eliminates the opportunity for the family to travel abroad if such a thought occurred to them. The parents don't seem to have any desire to do so; seem fairly contented with their country life---not terribly overconcerned that they have a seventeen year old daughter who lives in a place with no prospects. I imagine they would have had to turn their mind to it and do something in the next year or two.
While books are not life experiences, it is possible to gain much from them but as we know, until Catherine was fifteen, she had no objection to books "provided that nothing like useful knowledge could be gained from [them]". If they were all story with no reflection then she was good to go. When she did attempt the classics at fifteen, it seemed to be more for gleaning quotations appropriate for a heroine-in-training than for what she could get from them as works of literature. I'm not sure she even read them thoroughly. What she knows of the world comes mainly from the imaginary world of the Gothics.
So what we get from this setup---coming from the country with apparently little social interaction with anyone who could/would acquaint her with the ways of the world and its people, lack of constuctive reading, etc---is an unwordly, innocent Catherine on her way to Bath.
Jane Austen does a good job of setting us up to understand where Catherine is coming from when she is "launched into all the difficulties and dangers of a six weeks'residence in Bath" and it's humorous to boot. :)
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