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Written by Robbin
(10/9/2008 11:52 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Positive and negative connotations, penned by Mia I.
I agree Lady Russell’s use of the word clever has a negative connotation. Being clever at the “art of pleasing” (manipulating) people for your own benefit is a sly, scheming, devious accomplishment. To me Anne is casting Mrs. Clay in the same negative light by saying she has “assiduous pleasing manners.” From Johnson’s dictionary, 1824, page 45, assiduous is defined as “constant in application” which on its own can be either negative or positive. I think Anne sees Mrs. Clay's constantly pleasing (flattering) manners as a way to ingratiate herself, even attach Sir Walter. I do not like her at all—I think in pegging Mrs. Clay a schemer you have been more than fair.
I don’t think Elizabeth is equally dismissive of Anne and Mrs. Clay. Mrs. Clay is allowed to be her companion, to be of use while Anne is denied any relationship or place at all. Her belief Mrs. Clay knows her place is not dismissive but rather a statement of fact. Elizabeth sees it as the natural scheme of things and Mrs. Clay presents herself in this light to be acceptable to her. Elizabeth is dismissive of Anne because she is a different than herself. Anne’s priorities and values are opposite. I don’t see Elizabeth gratified, for example, by doing her duty because it is right. I think Elizabeth’s conceit plays a role in her feelings about Anne and Mrs. Clay—thinking she is better than both of them but in different ways. Elizabeth dislikes Anne because of who she is; Elizabeth pigeon-holes Mrs. Clay socially because of what she is but still likes her. (;D)
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