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|Lady Elliot and Mrs. Elliot
Written by Robbin
(10/12/2005 12:41 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Another small prequel clue, penned by Barbara
“Colonel Wallis had known Mr. Elliot long, had been well acquainted also with his wife, had perfectly understood the whole story. She was certainly not a woman of family, but well educated, accomplished, rich, and excessively in love with his friend. There had been the charm. She had sought him. Without that attraction, not all her money would have tempted Elliot, and Sir Walter was, moreover, assured of her having been a very fine woman. Here was a great deal to soften the business. A very fine woman, with a large fortune, in love with him! Sir Walter seemed to admit it as complete apology; and though Elizabeth could not see the circumstance in quite so favourable a light, she allowed it be a great extenuation.”
I think the idea that Sir Walter married his wife in much the same way makes a lot of sense and that is a terrific observation. In Chapter 1 we learn his wife was sensible and amiable with good judgment, “if she might be pardoned the youthful infatuation which made her Lady Elliot.” So we see that Sir Walter has experience in this method of obtaining a wife—obviously the charms of a lady infatuated cannot be denied or withstood by a vanity driven person such as Sir Walter. I should think the delight of being the objection of an infatuated lady would gratify his ego immensely and we already know according to Chapter 1 that “Sir Walter only does what he is imperiously called on to do; but blameless” he would be for it. :) I do believe it would explain why he could admit it as a complete apology for it has been his experience also—how can he blame another, his own heir even, for what he has done himself—he certainly cannot now think him self wrong or weak minded! As to Sir Walter’s heart, I think he hardly has one to soften but his tremendous ego, softened it surly could be by this explanation from Col Wallis and the attending excuses and flattery from Mr. Elliot in Chapter 15—“Mr. Elliot appeared to think that he (Sir Walter) was looking exactly as he had done when they last parted" ten years ago!
There is some similarity between Mr. Elliot’s wife and Lady Elliot because we are told they are both overwhelmed by their emotions and marry men who are not right for them. Mr. Elliot’s wife was said to be excessively in love with him and Lady Elliot had been infatuated with Sir Walter. Except for this fact, I would say they could not be very much alike from what I have tried to deduce about them specifically from the text and from how their marriages are reported to have progressed. I have come up with two reasons for the belief that they are alike only in the excessive feelings they had for their husbands before marriage and that they both did not find complete happiness in the union.
- - Mr. Elliot’s wife was of low birth and Lady Elliot could not have been. First of all, she was Lady Russell’s friend prior to marrying Sir Walter and we all are well aware of her fondness and preference for rank. Second, I do not believe Sir Walter would ever, ever allow himself to be as agreeable as it is in his power to be, which is saying little I know, to any lady who was either inferior to him by birth or rank and more than likely, even wealth. I think if Lady Elliot had been inferior in any way she would have never seen enough of him to be able to create this blinding infatuation of which she suffered until wedded bliss opened her eyes.
- - Mr. Elliot and his wife are reputed to have had an unhappy marriage which is very unlike Sir Walter and Lady Elliot, because “She had humoured, or softened, or concealed his failings, and promoted his real respectability for seventeen years; and though not the very happiest being in the world herself, had found enough in her duties, her friends, and her children, to attach her to life, and make it no matter of indifference to her when she was called on to quit them.” In all likelihood she kept Sir Walter happy as well as maintained his image to others and because of her attentions and his character he was probably unaware that she was not as happy as she could be. I only speculate that Mr. Elliot’s wife did not have the same kind of mind and abilities to keep her husband satisfied and therefore their marriage was considered unhappy, at least in retrospect according to Colonel Wallis.
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