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Written by Rachel G
(10/1/2012 5:21 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, "Shy" vs. "Reserved", penned by Chandra S
I had a look at the context in which the words 'reserve' and reserved' appear in the other novels. Here's what I found:.
JA uses the terms to describe people who keep their thoughts and feelings to themselves:-
But, Lizzy, you have been very sly, very reserved with me. How little did you tell me... (P&P ch.59)
Edmund .... wanted to know Fanny’s feelings. She had been used to consult him in every difficulty, ........ If she did not need counsel, she must need the comfort of communication. Fanny estranged from him, silent and reserved, was an unnatural state of things; (MP ch.35)
Though shyness may be the cause of a character being reserved, shyness and reserve are clearly different:-
Anne Elliott meeting Capt Benwick:
Many of JA's characters do not warm to people who are reserved, and prefer people who are more outgoing. For example, Darcy is 'reserved', in contrast to Col. Fitzwillam who is chatty and easy to converse with.
Mr. John Knightley ...... with reserved manners which prevented his being generally pleasing. (Emma ch.11)
Mr Knightley's perspective on Jane Fairfax:
Emma's perspective on Jane Fairfax:
A character who is reserved may be perceived by others as being proud and above their company:-
Georgiana's reception of them was very civil, but attended with all that embarrassment which, though proceeding from shyness and the fear of doing wrong, would easily give to those who felt themselves inferior the belief of her being proud and reserved. (P&P ch.45)
Emma's perspective on Frank Churchill:
Marianne does not suspect Edward of being proud,nor does she think that his shyness is the cause of his reserve. Her disapprobation of his reserved character stems from her conviction that a person of true sensibility ought to express all their thoughts and feelings, all the time. She is wrong of course, and has yet to grasp the idea that someone could have deep feelings but not choose to broadcast them indiscriminately.
If Marianne is right and Edward would be reserved even if he were not shy, I have to wonder why he is is reserved. Perhaps he has a secret to hide, as Emma suspects of Jane Fairfax. Or maybe it is a habit formed for self-protection. If his immediate family have a perspective on life which is very different from his, and they don't do empathy, then he may have learned from an early age that it was better to keep his mouth shut and his feelings under wraps.
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