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Written by Robbin
(10/10/2006 12:21 a.m.)
Who could I be speaking of but the indomitable Mrs. Jennings! Neither abuse by her son in law or being ignored by her own guest can make a dent in her resolve to be jolly and unreserved in her jokes, her time and even her pocket book. Sometimes JA seems very hard on characters who she likes to poke fun with and in Mrs. J you can see her faults quite plainly, from the moment she steps on the scene they make their presence known but they pale in comparison to her virtues, indeed they shine much too brightly to be ignored. Mrs. Jennings is an undercover angel IMO!
I thought it would be more comfortable for them to be together; because if they got tired of me, they might talk to one another, and laugh at my odd ways behind my back. But one or the other, if not both of them, I must have. Lord bless me! how do you think I can live poking by myself, I who have been always used till this winter to have Charlotte with me. (Chapter 25)
Mrs. J has been a wonderful friend to the Dashwood sisters by taking them to town, even Marianne was grateful at first although spectacularly inattentive and rude to her on their three-day trip to London. I cannot help but think of Jan’s description of Mrs. Jennings hallooing to her friends through the carriage window and telling everyone she is taking them to town—thanks Jan you are the inspiration for this post. ;D Mrs. J receives much more pleasure in taking Elinor & Marianne to town than they do in going to town but IMO it cannot take away from her kindness one tiny bit—there is something basically good in a person who finds such pleasure in giving to others. I think this is a trait shared by Sir John—they seem such a pair, enjoying their vulgar jokes and too interested in everyone’s business. I do think both of them are sincerely interested in seeing their young friends happy. Of all the trails the Dashwood ladies of Barton Cottage must live with I do not think Mrs. Jennings or Sir John is one of them.
Mrs. Jennings on her side treated them both with all possible kindness, was solicitous on every occasion for their ease and enjoyment, and only disturbed that she could not make them choose their own dinners at the inn, nor extort a confession of their preferring salmon to cod, or boiled fowls to veal cutlets. (Chapter 26)
The Miss Dashwoods had no greater reason to be dissatisfied with Mrs. Jennings's style of living and set of acquaintance than with her behaviour to themselves, which was invariably kind. Everything in her household arrangements was conducted on the most liberal plan… (Chapter 27)
Mrs. J knows the little comforts in life matter but really her efforts are not so small. This funny line about encouraging Elinor and Marianne to have what food they like shows me that she is very generous, nothing is to be spared for their enjoyment and comfort, as if taking them to London was not enough. She treats them as if they are favorite daughters placing them in a “very comfortable apartment” which once belonged to Charlotte.
I have been as busy as a bee ever since dinner! But pray, Colonel, how came you to conjure out that I should be in town to-day? …it is a fine thing to be young and handsome. Well! I was young once, but I never was very handsome -- worse luck for me. However, I got a very good husband, and I don't know what the greatest beauty can do more.
He replied with his accustomary mildness to all her inquiries, but without satisfying her in any. Elinor now began to make the tea, and Marianne was obliged to appear again. (Chapter 26)
I think Col Brandon understands Mrs. J’s worth and that is why he answers her with his customary mildness to all her inquiries—she is obtrusive and some of her insensitive remarks must be hurtful on occasion but she is so warm hearted and really good to others she cannot but be treated with kindness even at her most inquisitive. I also love her self-depreciating humor; this is a woman who probably never had an ounce of vanity in her.
"If this open weather holds much longer," said Mrs. Jennings, when they met at breakfast the following morning. "Sir John will not like leaving Barton next week; 'tis a sad thing for sportsmen to lose a day's pleasure. Poor souls! I always pity them when they do -- they seem to take it so much to heart."
Marianne owes Mrs. J a great debt of gratitude IMO. The inattention and rudeness with which Marianne treats Mrs. J however is overshadowed by the fact that Mrs. J still tries to maker her young friend happy—I do not think this speech on the weather and sportsmen is a coincidence. Mrs. J may often be insensible to remarks about herself but I think she understands teenage girls very well indeed and they certainly have no better friend than Mrs. J. I can see Mrs. J bringing one or two unmarried girls with her to London every year—she would not want to poke around by herself next season anymore than she wishes to do so this year. I fear Mrs. J’s footman will have to get used to the antics of heartsick females for some years to come because I do not see Mrs. J’s matchmaking, wheedling, or want of fodder for her jokes dying anytime soon. :D
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