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|Week 1: Parents
Written by kathleen (elder)
(9/25/2005 7:31 p.m.)
(1) The principal parent we see in action during the 1st 4 chapters is Sir Walter. He is one of the most neglectful fathers ever in Austen. Part of his problem is his stupidity, and perhaps he had poor examples from his own parents -- but surely he could have learned from his wife.
Sir Walter is selfish as well as stupid, however, and he doesn't even rate his favourite daughter that highly -- the quote from Chapter 1 is telling: "For one daughter, his eldest, he would really have given up any thing, which he had not been very much tempted to do." He wouldn't likely give up anything for his other two daughters (especially his second who was "only Anne."), and very little even for Elizabeth.
His lack of empathy for Elizabeth, too, regarding her age and unmarried state, make me actually a little bit angry -- if Elizabeth weren't so dislikeable herself, I might almost pity her her state. :-)
(2) There is little information given about Lady Elliot as a parent, but we know that Anne loved her. We also read, again in Chapter 1, that "Lady Elliot mainly relied [on Lady Russell] for the best help and maintenance of the good principles and instruction which she had been anxiously giving her daughters." I wonder if Lady Elliot saw how like Sir Walter Elizabeth was?
(3) Mrs Clay is a parent, though we have no evidence of it other than the narrator telling us that she has "the additional burthen of two children" (in Chapter 2). No mention by Mrs Clay of these children, but that's to be expected when she's visiting people who don't want to think about anything but themselves.
(4) Lastly we have Mr Shepherd, and he seems most agreeable to helping his daughter lead a healthy (?) lifestyle. I love the quote in Chapter 3: "for Mrs Clay was present; her father had driven her over, nothing being of so much use to Mrs Clay's health as a drive to Kellynch ... ." Sorry, but I just find myself saying, Yeah, I bet she finds that drive healthful! Papa Shepherd is so good to his daughter, with no ulterior motives -- yeah, right! I wonder how much of a "burthen" Mrs Clay & her 2 children are on the Shepher household?
The only good parent so far is the dead Lady Elliot.
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