Quick Index Board Index Home FAQ Site Map
|Mean Spirited Eliza II
Written by Robbin
(10/13/2006 1:25 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, No direct evidence, just conjecturing how Eliza II views Brandon, penned by Tom P2
While it is clear that a lone maiden entering a commercialized entertainment would be regarded by many as an easy prey, or worse, young ladies probably enjoyed more freedom in other settings than we have been accustomed to think, although it is difficult to gauge female freedom absolutely because the privileged were inured to the presence of servants, and may easily have taken their company for granted when noting the excitement of a solitary expedition Nevertheless, eighteenth-century novels suggest that genteel girls walking in pairs aroused little criticism...and even the stiffest high Victorians assumed that a lady could walk alone in parks and promenades in the mornings, and elsewhere at other times if accompanied by a friend or servant. (Chapter on Propriety)
If Eliza was about three when Brandon found her mother dying in the poor house fourteen years ago then Eliza would be about seventeen when she is seduced by Willoughby—Chapter 31, Brandon’s confession. I think the problem with Eliza was gullibility and high spirits which in retrospect would have made it prudent to place her in a family who could have watched her more carefully or provided her with a constant chaperone but in general I do not think Eliza is being particularly careless with her virtue when going about Bath without a chaperone, at least during the daylight hours. She was not alone and young ladies of about seventeen roam Bath and other places walking, visiting friends, and even going for rides in an open carriage with a gentleman without a dent to their virtue in other JA novels. Even being alone with a gentleman for the span of several hours to accomplish this ride was not seen as virtue assaulting unless they did it too often with the same gentleman. Marianne and Willoughby tour Allenham alone for several hours, they ride in his curricle alone and they spend large quantities of time mooning over each other and Marianne’s virtue remains in tact.
Willoughby probably saw and was attracted to Eliza and then made it his business to seduce her and while her virtue was certainly overcome by him it does not automatically follow that she was flippant or ungrateful towards Brandon just as roaming Bath with her friend was not automatically unvirtuous behavior.
When we meet Brandon in Chapter 7 he is described as “neither very young nor very gay” but Eliza has been missing for eight months so I should expect him to be sad and grave especially at this time and he may have been slightly happier before Eliza disappeared and Marianne showed up and he fell into unrequited love with her. I doubt if Brandon was so grave with Eliza that she dislikes him for it—he said that he visited her at school whenever he could and brought her to Delaford for frequent visits after he inherited five years before the novel opens. I think Brandon rather doted on the daughter of his deceased first love and her visits were probably very happy times for him and he admits to being over indulgent with her so I do not see a reason for her to disrespect or dislike him. Brandon describes Eliza’s character as like that of her mother’s and if he is correct, and I have no reason to doubt him, then that might preclude negative feelings on her part towards him—they may get along famously—there is more evidence for a cordial relationship than a discordant one IMO. I think it is safe to say many seventeen year old girls are foolishly seduced without owning a mean or guardian despising bone or tongue in their bodies. Sometimes they are just young and stupid and easily preyed upon unscrupulous men. (:D)
Groupread is maintained by Myretta with WebBBS 3.21.