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|GR--Parenthood, JA Style--The Morlands
Written by Tori Marie
(4/5/2003 12:33 a.m.)
I've chosen to focus on JA's portrayals of parents for this GR, and the varying ways in which they approach this most precious of duties. JA gives me a treasure right off the bat, in the Morlands; plain people of sense, whose children are neither over-indulged nor over-praised and who--Heaven bless them!--have just enough arms, legs and heads to go around. ;-) (I love that line--don't you?)
Some of her neighbors might say that Mrs. Morland is quite a slave to her daughters' education--and perhaps that of her sons before they reach school age?--but we know that she has time for visiting and reading. (Sir Charles Grandison, no less!) Today, I daresay we'd all call her "Supermom"! ;-)
However, attentive though she may be to her children's upbringing, she seems to focus on the younger children more and to leave Catherine to her own devices much of the time in her teen years. It is precisely this action which allows a girl who was brought up with so much good sense around her to lose herself in novels. It forms an important part of her character, and I'll be interested in seeing how it influences Catherine's story. Will she see herself as a heroine, as JA seems to be setting her up to do, and act according to that? Or will she fall back on the good sense and good example of her mother and be guided by that? (I think it's interesting how what Catherine has "learned" from novels and what she has learned at home are both so much a part of her character--she's a complex creation all right!)
As for Mr. Morland, well he seems a sensible and reasonable enough guy. ;-) He doesn't give Catherine more money than she can handle (I wonder how this relates to Mrs. Morland's giving her an account book) but he makes sure that she'll have what she needs, not to mention ensuring that she'll will, in fact, write to her father. ;-)
All in all, I'd say that the most remarkable thing about the Morlands as parents is that they're unremarkable. Here their eldest daughter is going out into the big, wide world for the first time ever--so this is also the first time they, as parents, have had to say "Bon Voyage" to a daughter--and they seem able to do it with hardly a shrug. There's no nail-biting over the perils of travel, sickness in public places or treachery of strangers. In short, IMO they're easily the most trusting, unconcerned parents who also cared very deeply for their children.
What I can't decide is whether this absence of parental worry is the result of a sanguine nature or whether Mr. and Mrs. Morland are as naive about the less pleasant side of the world as is their daughter. Frankly, I keep swaying back and forth between the two. What do you all think?
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