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|Anne as Cinderella, and other characterizations
Written by Caroline SO
(10/6/2008 9:16 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Elizabeth: Chapter one, penned by Cheryl
It is interesting that JA gives Elizabeth more "page space" than Anne on first introduction, but even on my first reading, I don't think I ever thought E. would be the heroine. As one critic pointed out (and, alas, I can't now recall and retrieve the source), Anne is an archetypal "Cinderella" character: her beloved mother has died, she is at the mercy of two sisters, one of whom (E) is "still as handsome as at age 16," and the other (Mary) is "coarse." Anne's father fills in for the wicked stepmother, and to some extent (her benevolence toward Anne), Lady R is the fairy godmother, although Anne's own intelligence and resources will put her life on track (i.e., help her find her prince) rather than her fairy godmother's wand.
Since I am trying to focus on JA's novelistic structure and devices, I was intrigued by how quickly in these chapters she introduces most of the lead characters and uses outside "reports" (i.e., letters or, in this case, the Baronetage), either to advance the plot or establish character.
A few characterizations that I noted are the following, brisk and to the point:
Anne -- "faded and thin" (really, JA's first words about the heroine! Cinderella indeed!)
Beat that for succinctness, Ernest Hemingway!
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