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|Anne & Lucy Steele (chapters 17 to 25)
Written by Robbin
(10/5/2006 3:20 a.m.)
Anne is the only person that knows of it, and she has no judgment at all; indeed she does me a great deal more harm than good, for I am in constant fear of her betraying me. She does not know how to hold her tongue… (Chapter 22)
I think the Steele sister’s relationship is much labored. Anne, at nearly thirty is in the danger years and still talks of beaux as if she is a very young and foolish teenager and while she is the confidant of her younger sister she is not trusted or respected by her. Lucy has potential but lack of education has left her wanting of the elegance she pretends to and Anne’s foolishness is a constant threat to this facade and to her secret. It must be a strain for Lucy to be constantly on the look out for Anne’s little blunders; several times Lucy is obviously embarrassed by Anne’s remarks and chastens or corrects her accordingly.
"Lord! Anne," cried her sister, "you can talk of nothing but beaux; -- you will make Miss Dashwood believe you think of nothing else." (Chapter 21)
"How can you say so Anne?" cried Lucy, who generally made an amendment to all her sister's assertions. "Though we have seen him once or twice at my uncle's, it is rather too much to pretend to know him very well." (Chapter 21)
"No, sister," cried Lucy, "you are mistaken there, our favourite beaux are not great coxcombs." (Chapter 24)
Their united consistent fawning behavior towards Lady Middleton and her children seems to me to be the smoothest part of their sisterly relationship and not a completely natural one. Anne and Lucy are in collaboration, a collusion of sorts to ingratiate themselves in Lady Middleton’s favor—I think it goes beyond just wanting to remain near Elinor to ensure she has nothing to do with Edward but to also remain at Barton Park to enjoy the benefits of pleasant parties in higher company than they are used to. I think their new found cousins, the Middleton’s, are a connection they desperately want to maintain; I can see how Lucy would hanker to enjoy such a connection at the inevitable showdown with Edward’s family. I think they usually enjoy lower social circles because of Edward’s remark in Chapter 17:
I have frequently thought that I must have been intended by nature to be fond of low company, I am so little at my ease among strangers of gentility!" (Chapter 17)
I find a bit of desperateness to their situation. Anne and Lucy have no fortune at all according to Lucy in Chapter 22; they neither have extraordinary talents, intellect nor elegance to recommend them to the world at large. I can understand why Lucy has held on to Edward for four years despite the obstacles that stand in the way of a marriage—it is unlikely she should attract another man of fortune. Edward, I think must have been secured by a combination of luck—his naivety and sly but consistent efforts on the part of Lucy. Lucy’s efforts to discover Elinor’s feelings and true relationship with Edward smacks of desperation—this just points out to me that Lucy is aware that it is not affection which holds Edward to their engagement so a women who actually does have his affection is a threat.
JA provides the Steele sisters with less than the Dashwood sisters in all areas—fortune, situation, and character—they are almost a picture negative of Elinor and Marianne. Elinor is sensible but with a heart, intelligent and advises Marianne for the benefit of Marianne while Lucy is intelligent but it was not developed so her talents are mean and often ignorant and her practicality is not softened by any sentiment as far as I can tell. She is not so much an advisor to Anne but a corrector and she does it for her own benefit IMO. Marianne is often thoughtless and holds immature opinions—no second attachments for example but she is still an affectionate, intelligent, charming girl. Anne has sort of a child like demeanor, thoughtless and her opinions that we have been privy to are juvenile but she is not misguided like Marianne in her overused sensibilities but really just vacant and ignorant. Elinor & Marianne I believe have a good relationship despite their very different outlooks, they share real affection and try to look out for each other. I think Anne & Lucy are tied together due to their relationship, poverty and unmarried status without the ability to be real companions to each other to make it more bearable. ;D
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