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Written by Emmeline
(10/11/2005 6:09 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, His preoccupation with appearance., penned by Barbara
Sir Walter's snobbery...is never more apparent than when he complains that naval success is a 'means of bringing persons of obscure birth into undue distinction'. He is incapable of recognising the achievements of the navy. He is satisfied that the Crofts are suitable tenants when he finds out that the admiral is handsome, but the real merit of the navy, which he cannot acknowledge, lies in its having recently repelled the threat of Napoleon Bonaparte's invasion.
For all the pride Sir Walter takes in his status as a baronet, he has scant understanding of the responsibilities implicit in his position. He sees ownership as his birthright, and has no sense of practical necessities; when Lady Russell proposes he learn to economise, the thought horrifies him. He represents the profligacy of the old landed class. It is his financial negligence that requires his family to quit Kellynch Hall and 'retrench' in Bath, a city well know for its frivolous entertainments. The Crofts are his antithesis. When Admiral Croft is introduced, he is characterised in terms of 'hearty good humour' and an air of 'open, trusting liberality'. After he and his wife move in to Kellynch Hall, 'with true naval alertness', one of their first acts is to remove the large mirrors from Sir Walter's dressing-room: they do not share his pompous self-regard. They are also unusual in participating fully in each other's business: Mrs Croft knows a good deal about her husband's ship, while the admiral is not above assisting with domestic tasks. When they ride in their carriage, they take turns to do the driving. They are, in short, Austen's idea of a modern couple. [Collector's Library]
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