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|JA tells us
Written by Deborah Y
(10/26/2008 2:36 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, A puzzle, penned by Tarn
in ch. 18: "Where could have been the attraction? The answer soon presented itself. It had been in situation. They had been thrown together several weeks. . . . [Anne] was persuaded that any tolerably pleasing young woman who had listened and seemed to feel for him, would have received the same compliment. He had an affectionate heart. He must love somebody."
I'm interested in the similarity between this explanation for the Benwick-Louisa romance and the much earlier explanation for the year-six Anne-Wentworth romance: "Half the sum of attraction, on either side, might have been enough, for he had nothing to do, and she had hardly any body to love." (ch. 4)
It seems to me that in this, arguably the most romantic of all her novels, JA is nevertheless making a rather hard-headed and unromantic point: that whom you fall in love with has a lot to do with chance/circumstance/contingency, that this most crucial of all life's turning points could easily turn out differently. Louisa falling off the Cob and Louisa falling in love with Benwick are equally accidents of fate. It's the opposite of the sentimental "we were meant for each other" POV.
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