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|Yes, a mighty pig…
Written by Robbin
(9/19/2006 12:44 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, I disagree; John was a waffler, penned by Mary Ellen
I think you hit the nail on the head—John wants to be seen as generous and his initial impulse to give the girls three thousand pounds is generous but it is hard for me to attribute it to a real feeling of generosity on his part. I think he is too selfish to be truly generous; he not only does not go through with his initial impulse of the three thousand pounds but he also begins to resent their even staying at Norland when he invited them to do so. His passive aggressive laments on the obligations of his purse in Chapter 5 are laughable—perhaps John thinks it is time for Mrs. D and the girls to give him something back already.
"I would not wish to do anything mean," he replied. "One had rather, on such occasions, do too much than too little. No one, at least, can think I have not done enough for them: even themselves, they can hardly expect more." (Chapter 2)
In Chapter 1 John is described as conducting himself with “propriety in his ordinary duties” and when I read it combined with the description of rather cold hearted, and rather selfish” I get the feeling that his conduct and actions are done to the letter of propriety but not beyond unless there is something in it for him or it takes nothing from him. In Chapter two (above) John is worried about what people will think of how he fulfills his duty to his step-family which leads me to believe his initial generosity may have been due to how he wants to be seen by others—society rather than any generosity of spirit. However, his determination to be seen as generous and his determination to actually be generous is not equal to his or his wife’s selfishness—he really is a wishy-washy individual.
Perhaps it would have been as well if he had left it wholly to myself. He could hardly suppose I should neglect them.” (Chapter 2)
IMO when John is sorry and vexed in Chapter 5 it is his conscious beginning to eat away at him. He has broken his promise to his father and while it is all his own doing he wants to blame Mrs. Dashwood. This is not the mark of generosity or regret IMO, just the pique of a very selfish person caught in the act. I agree John was too small hearted to succeed and I do not think his conscious will bother him for long because I feel Fanny will soothe it by repeating some of those juicy rationalizations for neglecting his step-family from Chapter 2. :D
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