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|I was about to call you out
Written by Anselm
(9/26/2009 9:15 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Why does Elinor really go back for more?, penned by Barbara
"Honour" I can understand. She's been forced to admit, against her deepest wishes, that Lucy and Edward are formally, if secretly, engaged. The right thing to do is therefore to back off, and also not to be so underhanded as to put a spanner in the works by letting Mrs Ferrars know, either directly (difficult if not impossible) or indirectly (through, say, her brother John - thanks to Tom P2 for this intriguing suggestion). Honourably, she does indeed do the right thing. I think the word "honour" here implies a public attitude as much as a private one. She acts honourably by Lucy's and Edward's publically-sanctioned commitment (even if it is secret).
But every which way I look at it, Elinor seems dishonest. As you say, she deliberately sets out to deceive Lucy about the nature of her feelings for Edward. She also implicitly deceives him, by seeing him as little as possible (contrary to both their inclinations), and lastly - and arguably worst of all - herself by suppressing her own feelings for him. The more I think about it, the more I can't find one aspect of her determination that is in fact "honest".
I'm sure that the following suggestion is wrong: JA is using the word "honest" ironically, thereby opposing it to the word "honourable", used "straight". Whatever she wrote, she meant it (that's JA for you!), so it's up to us to find the answer.
Tom P2 suggests that Elinor's coming back for Round 2 in Chs.23-24 (coincidentally, my son's just playing the soundtrack to the Rocky films - how apt!) is a form of damage limitation. True - but why does she feel the need to? Does she have an inferiority complex of her own - as, he quite convincingly suggests, does Lucy?
Another question: why does JA set up the opportunity for their first intimate conversation in Ch.22 as casually as she prepares an extremely elaborate and convoluted mechanism, taking fully the second half of Ch.23, to enable their second one? I guess the necessity for a buildup of tension once the hammerblow of Ch.22 has fallen is involved, as is the assumption that Lucy would have been looking for an opportunity for their Ch.22 tete-a-tete for some time. Does anyone have any other answers?
Too many questions - too few answers - my brain hurts!
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