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|Language, meaning and character
Written by BarbaraB
(4/15/2012 1:19 p.m.)
Language, meaning and character, each of these things could be threads in themselves yet at the same time, they all share a relationship in the story.
Catherine comes from a community of plain-spoken people who say what they mean and mean what they say. For her, the more worldly/sophisticated people she comes into contact with in Bath are like an obstacle course through which she must maneuver when it comes to language and discerning character.
The first person she meets is Henry to whom character and morals are important and he understands how language can be used to mask true intentions and how it can be used to manipulate the thinking and behavior of others. In some instances I think he is the voice of the author. As he goes about tutoring Catherine in the accuracy of language and of being specific so as to make her meaning clear (nice, amazing), JA is showing her approval and uses it to represent good character and morals and shows the opposite in those who use inaccuracies and inconsistencies in their communication. I feel that inherent in the verbal interaction of the second group is a warning of untrustworthiness. Not only that, these people never really listen to others with the same courtesy that they give to themselves.
Case in point are Isabella, John and the General. The General is more difficult to catch in the act but I was struck by how: "... Miss Tilney gently hinted her fear of being late; and in half a minute they ran downstairs together, in an alarm not wholly unfounded, for General Tilney was pacing the drawing–room, his watch in his hand, and having, on the very instant of their entering, pulled the bell with violence, ordered “Dinner to be on table directly!” But then, the general, "...spent the rest of his time in scolding his daughter for so foolishly hurrying her fair friend, who was absolutely out of breath from haste, when there was not the least occasion for hurry in the world."
I will continue my thoughts on how I think Catherine is managing in this maze separate post.
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