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|Admiring Pope 'no more than is proper'
Written by Barbara
(9/24/2006 6:39 p.m.)
After Willoughby's visit to the cottage in Ch. 10, Elinor 'congratulates' Marianne: "You know what he thinks of Cowper and Scott; you are certain of his estimating their beauties as he ought, and you have received every assurance of his admiring Pope no more than is proper."
I've always been puzzled by this line. I think it means that for Marianne it was permissible to admire some things about (Alexander) Pope, but that he ought not to be held in as high esteem as Cowper and Scott and her other favourites.
I also think that Jane Austen never throws names like this at random, and generally means to suggest something when she does. Certainly her very well-read family would have picked up on any intended allusions.
In the S&S2 movie, when Marianne is listing off her favourite heroines in her "to die for love? What could be more glorious?" rant, among them is Eloise, the heroine of Pope's Eloise to Abelard, who is supposed to be a character of great sensibility, I think. You can imagine how lines like these might appeal to Marianne just now:
On the other hand, he also wrote The Rape of the Lock, a mock heroic 5 canto epic that satirizes how much was made of the incident of Belinda, a young lady who had a lock of her hair 'stolen' from her (!) I did a little reading about it, and the poem is apparently mocking the way that high society in that time would make a huge deal out of seemingly trifling incidents--things like erring against decorum.
The editor of the Broadview edition has a bit to say on the poem, but focusing a bit more on an incident that actually is in next week's section.
However, James-Cavan also asserts that Pope was associated with "anti-sensibility", without, to my mind, really explaining why. Does anyone have any ideas on this?
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