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|The invisible mustache
Written by Adrian
(9/17/2013 11:10 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, As I recall, in NA2, penned by Mandy N
In NA, the novel, we do not learn that John Thorpe has told the General that Catherine is a wealthy heiress of the Allens until Henry tells her in Fullerton at the end of the book. So JA keeps us in suspense about the General's initial favorable attention and eagerness for Catherine to be close friends (to put it mildly) with Henry (and Eleanor).
Nor do we know until the end (in either novel or NA2 adaptation) that the General's sudden change of heart (if he had a heart) was due to a subsequent vicious slander against Catherine and her family.
The invisible mustache in NA2 is informing the audience early in the story, at the opera, that John T has provided the General with an "overly optimistic" assessment of Catherine's wealth--information which the characters (Catherine, Henry and Eleanor) do not know, and had they known John told the General this, would likely have disabused him to prevent a later explosion. Providing this advance information to the audience (like the nature of Willoughby's character in S&S3) makes the "mustache" (usually a negative quality a character keeps hidden--alluding to the heavy mustache often given to villains in early films and similar plays) visible to the audience.
People disagree whether this is good for the drama; certainly many object to revealing Wiloughby's seduction of Beth or Darcy's imminent arrival at Pemberley (the pond scene) before JA does it. But some writers believe that keeping such information concealed is a kind of cheating. It appears that Andrew Davies is one of these; he trades surprise for suspense.
So that's pretty much what an "invisible mustache" is.
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