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|ranging over town
Written by Bridget D
(10/15/2009 5:04 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Weighing Responsibility, penned by Robbin
Sorry, perhaps I am misunderstanding Col B but it seems to me that “ranging” has a negative connotation. If he’d meant that they were behaving as young ladies should surely he would have said something more neutral like “as with most young girls they were going all over town, to the shops and the library etc”
I don’t remember Northanger Abbey, but AFAICR, while the girls were out and about on their own sometimes in the daytime, (though possibly they had a maid with them – like Edward’s invisible groom –) in general, Mrs. Allen would be around in the evenings at balls and suchlike and would or at least should vet any men that they met during the daytime/ I know that Catherine goes for a ride in John Thorpe’s carriage once, but IIRC Mrs. Allen SHOULD have told her that that was improper, but IIRC she wasn’t as quite as active as she should be as a chaperone anyway.
As for “making acquaintances where they chose,” surely that indicates that Col B is angrily saying that the girls SHOULD have been supervised properly by the friend’s father, and should not have been allowed out as much as they were. I agree that chaperonage wasn’t as strict as it became in Victorian times, but still, a young woman, while she might be introduced to strange gentlemen by a social equal, like Mr. Denny or a functionary like the Master of Ceremonies, should not pursue a friendship with them unless her family/ chaperone approved. I thought that it went like “Mr Denny, who already knew the Bennet girls, would introduce his friend Mr WIckham, and they would talk briefly. Then later, if they met at a ball, Mr Wickham would be presented to Mrs. Bennet, and she would give the nod for him to dance with Elizabeth or call on the Bennets and pursue the acquaintance.”
However it seems that Eliza and friend didn’t have any kind of chaperone…and besides even if it was perfectly proper for them to be out so much and chatting to gentleman friends in town at the Pump Room or the library or whatever…once Willoughby suggested retiring to his inn room for a little afternoon fun, or running away with him to Gretna Green, surely Eliza and friend should then have beaten a horrified retreat back to Papa’s house…
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