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|thinking more about Mary
Written by Heather Leigh
(4/27/2010 3:45 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, The Bennet girls' education, penned by Cheryl
Mary Bennett is the only "bluestocking" character I can think of in any of JA's novels... I think she's basically in this book to provide contrast with the brainlessness of her younger sisters and the emotional intelligence of her older sisters. I.e. through contrast with Mary we get to see how "ignorant, idle, and vain" the younger sisters are, and how socially adept and attuned to others' emotions the older sisters are.
But I do wonder if Austen had other goals in her depiction of Mary; if she was satirizing a certain kind of woman/person that she knew (people with "book-learnin'" but no sensibility or taste or humor).
Austen seems to suggest, through her portrait of Mary, that intellect and study are not valuable in themselves, but only as enrichments of a generous character and sensitive personality.
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