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|That expectation of happiness which is happiness itself
Written by Barbara
(9/26/2009 11:07 p.m.)
Mrs. Dashwood and Marianne are quick to let their fancy take flight and start imagining all kinds of (usually pleasant) outcomes, once an idea seizes their imagination. Back in Ch. 2, Mrs. Dashwood's cheerful temper was described, and her "sanguine expectation of happiness which is happiness itself".
That phrase kept running through my mind, particularly during the first few chapters of this week's reading. When Elinor is attempting to object to the trip to London in Ch. 25, her mother says, "What is my dear prudent Elinor going to suggest? What formidable obstacle is she now to bring forward?" Then, a little later, "If Elinor would ever condescend to anticipate enjoyment, she would foresee it there [in London] from a variety of sources."
At first I thought, "Harsh!" This pointed remark from Mrs. Dashwood, even though it was kindly meant, really shows one big difference between Elinor and her mother and Marianne.
But then I kept going back and forth on this. Elinor doesn't really look forward to anything, or expect there will be happiness, does she? I know she has her reasons for not wanting to go to London and have to deal with the whole Edward situation, among other things. But thinking back even to something like the picnic to Whitwell in Ch. 13, for example:
"Their intended excursion to Whitwell turned out very differently from what Elinor had expected. She was prepared to be wet through, fatigued, and frightened;" They were going on a picnic and sailing, and all she could anticipate was being wet and frightened?
I hate to be hard on Elinor, because I love Elinor, but maybe her mother is right about this? Right in general, I mean, about 'condescending to anticipate enjoyment', not necessarily about the trip to London, because Mrs. Dashwood doesn't know about Edward and Lucy.
On the other hand, Marianne is anticipating great happiness at the prospect of reuniting with Willoughby, and yet the anticipation is making her a nervous wreck rather than happy. And, if you build your hopes up so high anticipating something and then it doesn't turn out the way you plan, the crash down to reality is a lot farther than Elinor typically has to fall. Her fall after finding out about Edward left her hardly able to stand.
I'm still torn. Is it better to not expect happiness to have the happiness of expectation, only to have it possibly come to nothing?
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