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|Charles, his children, the times, and JA's language
Written by Kalyn
(9/27/2005 3:40 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, It does when..., penned by Barbara
I think there is a danger in judging Charles and other characters by our own child-centered times. Children were treated very differently 200 years ago--all of the "seen, not heard" ideas of behavior, as well as all of the rules relegating upperclass children to the care of nurserymaids and governesses, and determining when they could be present at dinner with their own families, let alone in company. (Having said this, I must admit that my own mother could never enjoy P&P as much as I do, because of her continual desire to scream "Get a job!" at Mr. Bennet! It's hard sometimes to move beyond anachronisms. :) )
I think we need to pay particular attention to JA's tone and language when she talks about Charles (Tracy has many good quotes earlier in this thread, "in defence of Charles" I think)--which I interpret as being favorable towards Charles, and lacking the irony and satire with which JA discusses many other characters.
As far as reading and books are concerned, many of JA's characters are great readers (although, as Elizabeth Bennet herself says, she deserves neither such praise nor such censure!). But would you say Bingley is not being shown in a favorable light, just because he prefers hunting and cards to books?
Incidentally, may I recommend Daniel Pool's "What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: Fascinating facts of daily life in the nineteenth century". Not particularly for our discussion of child-rearing--just in general!
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