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|Catherine vs her brother, James
Written by BarbaraB
(1/14/2013 10:56 p.m.)
The brother and sister pair of Catherine and James has always interested me. I am always trying to understand such different behaviors displayed by the two of them. Both, obviously had a good country upbringing having been raised in the same home by the same decent parents who provided them with an equal education in good principles, moral integrity and responsibility. Nevertheless, this does not prepare them for a world rather different from their own or so it would seem. It's true they are gullible and innocent to the ways of the more sophisticated society into which they are introduced and yet, when I think about it, their parents have provided them with what they need to manage.
It would seem that James would be the wiser to the two. First of all he is the elder and has had more experience than Catherine who is encountering her initiation into greater society. Furthermore, James has likely been to public, if not private school, as well as the time he has spent at University. Catherine has never been far from home, a small and unvarying society, and having indulged on a mostly steady diet of Gothic/fantasy/romance, etc., this lack of a variety of reading matter with depth has been a missed opportunity to a realistic exposure of the world. James has had the advantage of, at least, in his schooling of having been exposed, to some extent in his studies and the connections with those beyond his home, to a wider world view.
So James, instead of being an advisor and protector for Catherine as I would have expected, as his parents would have expected, as society would have expected, takes up camp with the enemy so to speak.
I have discussed this in the past but something I read yesterday helped to clarify for me, or maybe reinforced already formed thoughts on the difference in responses and outcomes for the sibling pair. The simple answer is that when Catherine was trying to make her way through the minefield of Bath/Northanger Abbey with all its hidden agendas and unsure of her footing (except for one misstep) she relied on the solid foundation of principles, morals and ethics she came armed with while James chose to ignore them for self-interests. Even as the story is ending James chooses to see John Thorpe as a good man with an honest heart, all while John is deciding the friendship is no longer serviceable and willing to give it up as he maliciously lies about James and his family. I can’t help thinking that James has always felt that John and those they have always hung around with are the ‘cool crowd‘ and he has liked feeling he is one of them. I don’t know how long it will take for James to mature and use the tools his parents provided as a guide for life, but he will probably end up alright in the long run. Just hope it’s sooner than later.
Just thought I’d share.
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