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Written by James S.
(10/22/2006 3:33 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Good heavens!, penned by Karinna A.
First, Elinor paints and reads. Self-improvement, and the marker of the Lady, as in a woman of the aristocratic order. Marianne plays the piano and talks of the Sublime, also the marker of the aristocratic lady. I cannot go into the historical reasons for this in England and the Continent, because it would make this post more appropriate for the JA's Life and Times Board. You'll have to trust me that it is the mark of aristocracy :).
In our day and age, when a woman takes on these habits, we no longer attach a class significance to them. But in 1811 ...
"Self-Improvement" is often, then and now, a code word for reaching a better, more financially prosperous social class. Social climbers do tend to look down and despise other classes of people. Sounds lik elitism.
Is Elinor a social climber? Only the end of the book will tell, and I can't give away spoilers. But most of JA's characters do marry "well." Another code word for getting out of an undesired social class (good riddance!) and into an affluent social group.
Again, I think some posters assume that because I termed the Dashwood sisters elitists than they must be awful people. No, that's my point. Nearly all of us are elitists. But it is better to be conscious elitists, and aware of our own faults, than it is to overly congratulate oneself. I get a sense of "self-congratulation" from the sisters.
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