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|Ch 28: humiliating, devastating party scene
Written by Heather Leigh
(9/28/2009 12:36 a.m.)
I find the scene where Marianne finally sees Willoughby at the crowded party, only to have him be so cold and strained with her, terribly moving. I have watched all 3 film adaptations and I don't think any of them fully captures the emotional impact (though the Emma and Kate version - SS2? - comes close).
Reading closely, I suspect the effect is in part due to the narrative voice, which is technically "3rd-person," yet at the same time so tightly channeled through Elinor's eyes that it might almost be Elinor describing the scene. We get a double account of what Elinor is perceiving and feeling INWARDLY (but unable to express) and of what Marianne is feeling and expressing OUTWARDLY through her facial expressions, gestures, and outbursts. And we get the very perceptive Elinor's account of Willoughby's movements and looks, which betray how horribly awkward he feels and how he's forcing himself first to go through the social motions (approach them, exchange formal greetings) and then to reply coldly to Marianne's warmth.
Somehow this narrative "double whammy" of internal and external signs conveys the full weight of Marianne's shock and disappointment so wonderfully.
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