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|Why was Elinor different?
Written by Glenn
(9/10/2009 1:56 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Doubt, belief and proof, penned by Barbara
I also read the introduction to the Norton Critical Edition. Mrs. Dashwood and Marianne are of a like mind (to wish was to hope, and to hope was to expect) and Margaret appeared to follow their path. Prior to the death of Mr. Dashwood, they might have had a sheltered existence. So why was Elinor more rational and doubting? Naivety is often destroyed by bitter experience, although some people can learn from the mistakes of others. We know of no bitter experience in Elinor's life prior to the start of the novel so I'm wondering if she, as the eldest daughter, had more responsibility thrust upon her. Perhaps she was old enough to listen to the advice or experiences of her father or other relatives.
From a scientific viewpoint, I read that the amygdala (seat of emotions) is fully developed by the age of 16 but the prefrontal cortex (center of rationality) doesn't fully develop until 20. Mrs. Dashwood's prefrontal cortex should have been completely developed so I wonder if she had such complete dependence on her husband (and her parents before marriage) that she never developed her critical thinking skills. I doubt her husband criticized her naivety. She reminds me of Lady Bertram in her childishness, although she has much stronger emotions.
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