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|Edward didn't come from London though
Written by Barbara
(10/3/2006 1:00 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Wicked London, penned by James S.
When Edward first arrives at Barton Park, they are (unpleasantly) surprised to learn he has been in Devonshire for a fortnight before coming to see them. "He looked rather distressed as he added, that he had been staying with some friends near Plymouth." Why Edward feels the need to rush back to London and/or Norland when he has no fixed commitment, and no particular reason he needs to go is another mystery.
Also, at this point in the story, we don't know why Willoughby took off for London like that, other than his assertion that it was at Mrs. Smith's insistence and that she "exercised the privilege of riches upon a poor dependant cousin, by sending [him] on business to London." He speaks of 'dispatches' she has given him, as though there is some sort of urgent business on Mrs. Smith's behalf which he must undertake without delay. That's all we know so far.
It's true, though, that we do have rather an epidemic of suitors or would-be suitors who mysteriously disappear (or reappear) and seem to have something weighing rather heavily on their minds when they do.
I have read in a few places the theory that this might be a leftover from the original epistolary form of Elinor & Marianne. People need to go away so there can be correspondance! But, I've also read the theory that this is just the sign of a less experienced novelist who got her characters 'off stage', as it were, until she had something in particular for them to do again.
It certainly makes the prospect of journeying to London, as they do at the very end of this week's reading section, all the more rife with possibility!!
As for the plot going slack and not a lot happening around Barton, this emphasizes the point in the novel of how it was a woman's lot in those times to be forced to wait and wait and wait. Wait for someone to come back, wait until someone could take her somewhere--so many people making decisions that affected her that she could not make for herself. Jane Austen wrote in her own letters about waiting until one of her brothers could come and get her and take her somewhere else, even though she was inclined to be gone well before then.
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