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|Oh, no, we wouldn't want anything like that! ;-)
Written by Kathi
(2/9/2004 3:01 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Not to rehash the whole argument ;), penned by ifung
Is this really something that has been debated over a long period of time? Or is the "subconscious attraction theory" a fairly recent interpretation? (Please understand that I'm not being sarcastic or anything. I'd really like to know.) And do you think Jennifer Ehle's performance has had anything to do with promoting it?
] I'm sure this has eaten up a lot of storage space on the RoP as well. ;)
That I can't possibly dispute.
] I fully agree with you that one can (and most readers do) subscribe to a LITERAL, 'fundamentalist', 'concrete' interpretation of the novel, where there is no subtext. In this reading, the narrator and dialogue provides all of the information that exists, and the characters have no subconscious motivations or private thoughts. In such an interpretation, all of the characters' statements are accepted as literal truth (except for Wickham, who is shown to be a dissembler by events and testimony of other characters).
I can't speak for all who reject the subconscious attraciton theory , but I do think you have misunderstood my position in relation to it. I do not take everything literally, and I certainly see a great deal of subtext -- I just don't see any that indicates that Lizzy is attracted to Darcy before she falls in love with him after seeing him at Pemberley. And as those who have argued with me over whether Darcy was justified in believing Jane was indifferent, I don't believe everything every character says, and I do think some characters have subconscious motivations. Every character has private thoughts (in fact, a whole history), some of which we aren't privy to.
However, if the narrator says something, we have to believe it.
] Thus, when Elizabeth professes a dislike of Mr. Darcy, the literal interpretation assumes she cannot have any other feelings.
I don't deny that she has no other feelings, only that if she does have other feelings, I expect to see some evidence of it, somewhere. For example, I'd expect some evidence that she's dwelling on Mr. Darcy in her thoughts. I don't see any. What I find is that she's dwelling on Mr. Wickham in her thoughts, once he shows up on the scene.
] Similarly, when Mr. Darcy says he was a selfish being: ...I have been a selfish being all my life, in practice, though not in principle... , the literal interpretation takes the stance that this is the literal truth. He's a selfish lout who has been reformed at the end of the novel by the virtuous Elizabeth.
This is not a representation of the position that anyone I know holds, and I have missed very few posts on that subject on the P&P board since 1998. (And before you accuse me of being too literal, I do realize that you're exaggerating to make a point. At least, I hope you are. In this case, though, I don't think it's an effective technique.)
] There is nothing wrong with the literal interpretation. I think it makes for a fairly straghtforward and cohesive plot. It has the advantage of being completely supported by the text - therefore, if you get into any dispute with a non-literalist you can always say, "There is no support for your view in the text!"
I think you are presenting this as if there were only two poles, which is obviously not so. In any case, you're prefectly free to believe something for which there is no support in the text (a fine concession, indeed!). The problem is, it's difficult to get other people to believe that that was what JA intended. I have to agree with Joan, too's response: "IMO this really belongs in FanFiction! JA would be wondering what book you were reading were she to see this!"
] However, a minority of readers find such a literal interpretation less satisfying than a more nuanced reading - one which accepts the possibility that the characters might not be telling us what they actually think and feel, one where there are subconscious or unspoken motivations under the surface that do not necessarily jive with the dialogue.
I would agree that a reading of the text "accepts the possibility that the characters might not be telling us what they actually think and feel, one where there are subconscious or unspoken motivations under the surface that do not necessarily jive with the dialogue."
] One does not find MUCH literal support for such an interpretation, but JA leaves little clues which are pretty intriguing and open for such interpretation.
I have read most of the posts you reference already and don't find them convincing.
] Needless to say, I find these interpretations more appealing than the literalist approach. To each his/her own! ;-)
As you say. ;-)
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