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|Proof of conscious…
Written by Robbin
(10/15/2006 2:13 a.m.)
Their hours were therefore made over to Lady Middleton and the two Miss Steeles, by whom their company was in fact as little valued, as it was professedly sought. They had too much sense to be desirable companions to the former; and by the latter they were considered with a jealous eye, as intruding on their ground, and sharing the kindness which they wanted to monopolise. Though nothing could be more polite than Lady Middleton's behaviour to Elinor and Marianne, she did not really like them at all. Because they neither flattered herself nor her children, she could not believe them good-natured; and because they were fond of reading, she fancied them satirical: perhaps without exactly knowing what it was to be satirical; but that did not signify. It was censure in common use, and easily given. Their presence was a restraint both on her and on Lucy. It checked the idleness of one, and the business of the other. Lady Middleton was ashamed of doing nothing before them, and the flattery which Lucy was proud to think of and administer at other times, she feared they would despise her for offering. (Chapter 36)
Above Lady Middleton’s reasons for not liking Elinor and Marianne are laid out and we know that Lucy cannot like Elinor because she is a rival for Edward and if Marianne’s treatment of her was not enough to dislike her I am sure she does now after Marianne’s conservation with Edward in Chapter 35, then there is just the jealousy of them intruding on their ground with Lady Middleton. Why should they feel ashamed or fear they will be despised so much that they restrain themselves from their normal habits? I think Marianne’s manner might make them so but I have thought Elinor dons a polite mask of manners rather easily. I think Lucy does know that Elinor does not think highly of her but in their situation it is not surprising that some of Elinor’s true feelings should seep through. Does this shame and fear mean that they both see the Miss Dashwoods as superior creatures to themselves and is their feelings of inferiority a part of their dislike of Elinor and Marianne?
What does this show of conscious mean? Is it that LM and Lucy understand their faults and both could improve themselves if they wished? Does it mean they secretly desire the good opinion of the Miss Dashwoods? I think the shame and fear are products of minds that know they are doing wrong—Lady Middleton feels she should rouse herself to activity more than she does and Lucy knows manipulating Lady Middleton is an immoral exercise at best. Does LM wish for the desire to employee herself more because Sir John could not conceal his amazement on finding them (the Dashwoods of Barton Cottage) always employed—Chapter 9? Is Lucy worried that Elinor will tell Edward of her constant flatteries to LM? I have to admit that I was surprised to find LM and Lucy with doubts concerning their own behavior and that they are concerned about the opinion of the Miss Dashwoods. I find myself with a little sympathy for LM and Lucy even though they are such unlikable ladies because they check their own behavior in the presence of the Miss Dashwoods who certainly have no idea of it. (;D)
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