Quick Index Board Index Home FAQ Site Map
|The theft of the lock?
Written by Ivonne
(9/21/2009 11:11 a.m.)
I very much enjoyed the episode during Edward’s visit, when Marianne notices “a ring, with a plait of hair in the centre, very conspicuous on one of his fingers.” She initially mistakes it for Fanny’s, but then self-consciously jumps to believing it is Elinor’s due to Edward’s discomfort when she questions him. Edward stumblingly says it is Fanny's, and Elinor’s response fascinates me—an uncharacteristic flight of fancy of sorts:
“Elinor had met his eye, and looked conscious likewise. That the hair was her own, she instantaneously felt as well satisfied as Marianne; the only difference in their conclusions was, that what Marianne considered as a free gift from her sister, Elinor was conscious must have been procured by some theft or contrivance unknown to herself. She was not in a humour, however, to regard it as an affront, and affecting to take no notice of what passed, by instantly talking of something else, she internally resolved henceforward to catch every opportunity of eyeing the hair and of satisfying herself, beyond all doubt, that it was exactly the shade of her own. ” (emphases mine)
The passage reminds me of a more passive, less offending version of “The Rape of the Lock,” the Alexander Pope poem that Barbara brought to our attention earlier in this group read. Does this scene align Elinor subtly with the formalism of Pope, in contrast to her sister’s passion for the romanticism of Cowper?
And my goodness, how very precipitously Elinor jumps to a conclusion here, keeping pace with, perhaps even surpassing, Marianne! Peppered with her usual good sense rather than wishful thinking, she might have seen it differently. For example, the passage recognizes that she might have taken the theft of a lock of her hair “as an affront.” Would staid, proper Edward ever have indulged in such an action? If he had, would he have set the lock so prominently, wearing it in a ring during a visit to their home, without any formal understanding between him and Elinor? Een Willoughby, who obtains a lock of Marianne’s hair, with her consent, "fold[s] it up in a piece of white paper ... [in] his pocket-book," and we never hear of him sporting it openly. And what about Elinor’s resolve at the end of the scene—to seek proof not as to whether this is her hair, but to rubber-stamp her conceptual leap?
What a jolt for her to learn later from Lucy that it is not hers after all! Elinor is “mortified, shocked, confounded.” Does this describe only her reaction to the extent of the relationship between Lucy and Edward, or to the revelation of the nature of her own, unfounded assumption as well? Lucy gave Edward the ring "when he was at Longstaple last." Why now, apparently for the first time in four years? Did her "jealous temper" get too much of a dose of Elinor's praise during Edward's visit? And what of Edward? Perhaps it is not unusual that he would lie about whose hair it was, given his engagement with Lucy is secret. But why does Edward wear the ring, even away from Lucy, and particularly while visiting the Dashwoods? Just absent-mindedness, or something more?
Would love to hear thoughts on this episode, which, though tucked away amidst much else, seems to add quite a few insights.
Groupread is maintained by Myretta with WebBBS 3.21.