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|GR: I have no patience with Mrs. Allen!
Written by Tori Marie
(4/12/2003 12:17 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, GR: Mrs. Allen, penned by Cheryl
I've been thinking about this too, Cheryl. Catherine is so young and so naive. Not only is she away from home for the first time, she's in quite a popular resort town during the season. There are a whole host of people there from goodness-knows-where and Mr. and Mrs. Morland are expecting Mrs. Allen (?!) to be a good judge of character? Or, even worse, to guide Catherine through whatever social decisions she must make? I'm sorry but Mrs. Allen's guidance, like her pocket allowance, is all spent on matters of fashion. ;-)
At first I was upset with Mrs. Allen because she was so ineffectual upon their going to their first assembly. While it wouldn't do to be making acquaintances willy-nilly with just anybody,;-) she doesn't bother to take the proper steps to get Catherine introduced to anyone. Although they were obliged to sit down with others in the tea room, she didn't even seek an introduction to these people--not even when Catherine voiced her discomfort with the situation.
Then the Thorpes came on the scene and Mrs. Allen's inattention has all new, very dangerous implications. Because Catherine hasn't met anybody else--except for that meeting with Mr. Henry Tilney--Isabella Thorpe becomes the be-all and end-all of her social existance. From the beginning, I've see IT as an insincere young woman who is either man-crazy or determined to get a husband at any cost (or perhaps both). To be honest, IT sets off my mommy-warning-bells. I don't think she is a good companion for Catherine in any case and as Catherine's primary companion she's particularly dangerous.
If Mrs. Allen had done her job as a chaperone, however, Catherine would have been introduced to several young ladies whom she might be able to call upon, see at the various functions around town and meet in the Pump Room. She would certainly not be with Isabella Thorpe day in and day out. That sort of intimacy would not have been possible.
Then John Thorpe and James Morland swing into town! James also comes in for a fair share of my displeasure when he tries to make Catherine go on outings she shouldn't or doesn't wish to attend. But he is young and in love and, more importantly, wasn't entrusted with Catherine's care and guidance in Bath.
But Mrs. Allen went out of her way to seek that responsiblity and IMO she wholly abandons it. Whenever John, James and Isabella show up to take Catherine on some drive or other, Mrs. Allen might voice an objection to echo Catherine's own, but she waffles whenever John or Isabella offers a counter argument. This is a disservice to Catherine. Sometimes it is the job of a chaperone to say, "No, that is not appropriate", or, "You had better not, my dear." Mrs. Allen does not do this at all. As a guardian, she would make a very nice house plant. ;-)
Not only am I quite put out with her inattention to her duty, I am very unhappy with Mrs. Morland for letting her take this precious charge in the first place. Granted Mrs. Morland has only ever seen Mrs. Allen in the smaller society of Fullerton, but how could such a glaring example of wishy-washiness escape her notice? Shouldn't she have noticed that Mrs. Allen would be utterly incapable of exerting herself on Catherine's behalf or of setting limits of any important kind? Why on earth did she allow Catherine to take this trip with the Allens?
] But, one thing Mrs. Allen's vacillating does - it forces Catherine to begin to think for herself and reason for herself and depend upon her own judgement as to the "rightness" of an action.
This is true. That which does not kill us does make us stronger. ;-) But it would be much better for Catherine if she had Mrs. Allen to back her up when she is trying to do the right thing. For example, Catherine might have been spared the whole scene with the Thorpes physically holding her back and James calling her selfish if only she'd been able to say, "I'm sorry, but Mrs. Allen would surely forbid it", and known that this is, in fact, what Mrs. Allen would do.
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