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|Persuadable, malleable, manipulative.
Written by Rachel G
(10/13/2011 3:43 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, persuadable Louisa?, penned by AmyFlo
Good analysis; I think this is spot-on.
Louisa seems quite immature to me. Apart from being livelier and more outgoing than her sister, I don't think her personality has firmed up yet into the distinctive shape it will take when she is fully adult. She is still malleable, capable of shaping herself and persuadable by others, which is ironic considering that what Captain W thinks he wants is firmness.
I notice that Louisa can also be somewhat manipulative: when she urges Henrietta to walk down to Winthrop and see Charles Hayter I think her main motive is to elbow her sister out of the competition for Captain W. This manipulativeness may not turn out to be one of Louisa's defining characteristics though. It could be temporary, and driven by the biological imperative to get her man, as could the present malleability of her character.
Perhaps there is sense in this youthful flexibility. In an age with no contraception, high infant (and maternal) mortality, and effectively no divorce, perhaps it made biological sense for a woman to marry young, when she was at peak fertility and fitness, and when her character was more readily adaptable to that of her partner in life. These days it is generally thought wiser to delay marriage until women are more mature and have completed their education and established their careers. I'm just speculating here and make no claims about which way is best; the past is another country.
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