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|Right Way & Wrong Way
Written by Robbin
(10/24/2011 12:24 p.m.)
There have been a few parallel (or nearly so) situations which highlight the right and wrong ways to cope, reason or behave. This is not a test but I am sure all can guess which folks are in the right and which are pretty much in the wrong all the time.
a thicker letter than usual from Mary was delivered to her [Anne]; and, to quicken the pleasure and surprise, with Admiral and Mrs. Croft's compliments. (18)
Sir Walter unfairly accuses the Crofts of delivering the letter in order to secure an introduction at Camden Place: “those letters are convenient passports an introduction” (18). Sir Walter has no right to be flinging such accusations since he actually wrote a letter to Lady Dalrymple soliciting a formal introduction. The Crofts merely played postman. It seems delivering the letter does require attention; a “visit of ceremony was paid and returned” (18) but I am sure the Crofts only thought of doing a kind service for Mrs. Musgrove. I can’t imagine any undo calculation or self-serving reasons in their part of the business.
Sir Walter humbles himself by writing “a very fine letter of ample explanation, regret, and entreaty, to his right honourable cousin” (17) the Lady Dalrymple in order to reestablish the family connection and gain a formal introduction. The effort to obtain the connection is completely self-serving. That the ladies are nothing in themselves is irrelevant; Sir Walter and Elizabeth’s attendance is assured by their rank. Their cousins cards are displayed “wherever they might be most visible” (17) and “Our cousins in Laura Place…were talked of to everybody” (17). It is all to aggrandize the Elliot’s place in the society of Bath by association with the nobility of England and Ireland.
While Sir Walter and Elizabeth were assiduously pushing their good fortune in Laura Place, Anne was renewing an acquaintance of a very different description. (17)
Anne learns of Mrs. Smith’s residence in Bath and realizes the lady has “the two strong claims on her attention of past kindness and present suffering” (17). Miss Hamilton had been “useful and good to her…and could never be remembered with indifference” (17). Anne considerately asks their mutual friend if her attention would be welcomed by Mrs. Smith. When the friend “answered for the satisfaction which a visit from Miss Elliot” would give Anne proceeds to renew the friendship with a visit. Unlike Sir Walter and Elizabeth; Anne is all consideration for Mrs. Smith for the right reasons. She seeks the relationship as much for friendship as it is called for by duty and kindness. Father and sister have no reasons of kindness and I think the smallest excuse of duty.
Mary whose complaints of illness, if they have any substance at all, are minor but generally are probably no more than the discontent of loneliness and boredom. Mary’s suffering, if it may be quite generously called so for the purposes of this comparison, is self-inflicted. Mrs. Smith is seriously ill and has suffered the death of her husband and serious illness. Anne could “scarcely imagine a more cheerless situation” yet she sees her friend had “moments only of languor and depression to hours of occupation and enjoyment” (17). Mary is whiney, discontent and useless. She needs others to cheer her out of her low spirits. Mary creates her own sickroom of course but in my opinion it does not hurt the comparison of how each lady deals with her situation. This quote pretty much sums up one’s strengths and the other’s weaknesses:
"Here and there, human nature may be great in times of trial; but, generally speaking, it is its weakness and not its strength that appears in a sick-chamber: it is selfishness and impatience, rather than generosity and fortitude, that one hears of." (17)
Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Clay are widows “between thirty and forty, with little to live on, and no sirname of dignity” (17). Mrs. Smith has “no child to connect her with life and happiness again, no relations to assist…no health to make all the rest supportable” (17). Yet she uses her spare time to knit little trinkets to acquire the means of doing something for families who are poorer than herself. Mrs. Clay has two children and a father (at least) to assist her. In addition when marriage may be thought of she still possesses youth, health, an acute mind and pleasing manners and is “altogether well-looking” (5). Mrs. Clay has far better prospects and much more to be grateful for yet it appears her activities are all self-promoting. I don’t think her usefulness to Elizabeth qualifies as it is self-serving rather than generous. Instead she has been trying to lure Sir Walter into marriage—a solely mercenary endeavor as abandoning him in favor of Mr. Elliot (24) reveals.
There is probably more of this to be found but this is all I have come up with so far. Thanks for reading! (:D)
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