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|But don't forget...
Written by Anselm
(4/25/2010 2:36 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Evangelicals vs. conservatives, penned by Line
...that although she wrote to Cassandra in 1809, "I do not like the Evangelicals", five years later she remarked to a friend: "I am by no means convinced that we ought not all to be Evangelicals, and am at least persuaded that they who are so from reason and feeling must be happiest and safest." On the website The Victorian Web, Herbert Schlossberg comments:
Recent scholarship suggests that the last three of her novels were more profound than the earlier ones because they were more reflective of the evangelical movement, and also of the spiritual development of the novelist. [Jenkins, Jane Austen, 313; Koppel, The Religious Dimension of Jane Austen's Novels, 5f; Brantley, Locke, Wesley and the Method of English Romanticism, 208.]
Now, before I get marched off to Austenuations, I'll scuttle quickly back to P&P. The notes in the Cambridge edition refer to Mr Collins' lax attitudes to gambling, dancing and singing as being offensive to his more seriously minded Evangelical colleagues within the Church of England. In fact, I think I'm right in stating that I can't remember one unadulteratedly Christian sentiment in all of what we've read so far. The man is no Christian in any real sense of the word - he's a mixture of obsequiousness and self-satisfaction.
But he's also worse than that. At the beginning of Ch.20, immediately after his rejection by Elizabeth, we find him in "silent contemplation of his successful love", completely satisfied with "the refusal which his cousin had stedfastly given him[, which] would naturally flow from her bashful modesty and the genuine delicacy of her character."
She says no, but she means yes. What kind of person does that remind you of? (Look away now....)
Not that he is, of course - but his actions spring from the same kind of mentality. It's a demeaning of women, of the sort that saw them as inferior beings, nicely dressed up in the PC stuff about "having their own sphere" (sort of like Jim Crow "seperate but equal". Yeah, right! As if Elizabeth has any choice about the "sphere" - the one that's been chosen for her by Mr Collins and the paternalistic society he so eloquently represents.)
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