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|But with Willoughby and the horse...
Written by Barbara
(9/27/2012 2:41 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Possibly..., penned by Tess
...Elinor was handling it carefully not to avoid giving Marianne offense, but because she knows Marianne and knows her sister will dig her heels in if there is too much opposition to anything she wants.
"Elinor thought it wisest to touch that point no more. She knew her sister's temper. Opposition on so tender a subject would only attach her the more to her own opinion."
The 'so tender a subject' also refers to Marianne's conviction that her opinion about Willoughby is correct and that she knows him very well, even though it's been only a few weeks.
Even though Elinor wishes very much to ask Marianne outright and has done what she can to convince their mother of the same, I don't think that what is preventing Elinor from speaking is privacy, but more a sense of duty to her mother. Mrs. Dashwood is the one who should ask, if anyone does. It is not Elinor's place to do so when they have a parent who ought to, and furthermore, her mother has firmly rejected the idea. For Elinor to go ahead and ask anyhow would be to go directly against their mother's stated wishes, and I don't think Elinor would do that.
To ask the question may well give Marianne offense for several reasons, including: they aren't engaged and she would have to admit it, the ARE engaged, and it's offensive that anyone would not think so just by having observed them, or Willoughby has sworn her to secrecy, and she would have to answer and tell the truth out of duty to her mother, but then she would be betraying HIS confidence.
Elinor feels that it would be worth it to ask anyhow, but Mrs. Dashwood said no. Even though Mrs. Dashwood isn't very 'parental' at times, Elinor would not wish to defy her, IMO.
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