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Written by Chris DS
(9/24/2005 5:28 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, The Pause that Refreshes, penned by Peg
My first interests in JA were stirred, not only by her sublime humour, but by the way in which she creates ambiguity. At least two plausible explanations can be fitted to some key circumstances; and then the truth, when out, whips the rug from beneath both! The unquestioning reader simply nods at JA's suggestions on the way by to be ambushed later.
It is the making of the second invitation to Mr Elliot that baffles me. We are to suppose from what is said about the Elliots' exchanges in London that Mr Elliot did not dispell any fears that he may not come. He was sufficiently enthusiastic in accepting it so that he was expected with confidence. Due allowance has to be made for the intellectual capital shortfalls invested in Sir Walter and Elizabeth. However, in the area of social arrangements their hearts, minds and spirits, would be shown to best effect, I think. So we can be reasonably certain that their confidence was a fair judgement call based on the known evidence.
Then without explanation he never appears, never says he will come later, and never says he isn't coming. Even though he knows he must have given real offence; Mr Elliot is sufficiently sure of his ground, or social powers, that he has no qualms about meeting the Elliots at the next London season. A meeting which he must have known would have been difficult to avoid unless he wished to hide.
Just what is he able to say that satisfies the Elliot's sense of pride, and at the same time engages another renewal of an invitation he then does not keep? Why do they believe him with the same apparent confidence?
The ambiguity lies between Sir Walter and Elizabeth being too flushed with their own importance, or whether Mr Elliot likes to play games, for who knows what reason. Wonderful ambiguity, with lots to be said on both sides!
PS: Thanks for your remarks Peg, and they are reciprocated.
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