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|GR:Henry's Wisdom & Isabella's Plea
Written by Tori Marie
(4/16/2003 1:39 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, GR: Brothers and Sisters: The Morlands and Thorpes, Week3, penned by Cheryl
Yes, I like this exchange. Catherine is so full of feeling for her brother and Henry seems to feel for her too. He's wise enough to know that stopping this flirtation isn't going to do James any favors in the long run, but gentle enough to frame that information in the kindest possible way when presenting it to Catherine.
I hadn't thought about his encouraging Catherine to think and decide for herself here, but I have to agree that he's doing that too. Chalk up another aspect I wouldn't have noticed if not for a Group Read. :-)
] In contrast, Isabella spends much energy in pleading her brother’s case.
I read that a little differently. I got the impression that Isabella mentioned it because John asked her to do so, but that her heart just wasn't in it. Also, I thought she was quite cutting--mean-spirited, even--in much of what she said to Catherine. I didn't believe at all that Isabella really wanted Catherine to marry John.
When Catherine is surprised to hear that John has an interest in her, Isabella says:
"Nay, my sweetest Catherine, this is being quite absurd! Modesty, and all that, is very well in its way, but really a little common honesty is sometimes quite as becoming. I have no idea of being so overstrained! It is fishing for compliments."
Aside from the "my sweetest Catherine", (which I write off as one of IT's insincerities) I see the whole thing as an insult. Even worse than calling Catherine a liar, it looks like she's calling her an unattractive liar, lying in order to look good. Well, she thinks it works for herself so why not? ;-) Not that she'd 'fess up to it. ;-) In fact, she says outright she wouldn't do this herself. :-P
When she finds that Catherine is "determined against poor John", she doesn't push as I read it. She does, however, assume an "all for the best" posture that I find ominous. All along, Isabella has been saying the opposite of what she feels. In fact, I have a theory that for much of the novel so far, you can determine what Isabella means exactly by turning it completely upside down.
However, I think that Isabella is doing something unusual in this meeting with Catherine. I think she's telling the truth. ;-) But it's a truth that I believe would hurt Catherine very much if she really saw it.
In all her talk about not living upon love, understanding how someone would want to get out of an unprofitable alliance if they could, etc., I believe she's saying that she's not willing to live upon little more than ethereal romance and that she wants out of her engagement to James, that she didn't really love James and that, based on a change of circumstances, she regrets entering into the engagement in the first place. Rather than say as much, however, she attributes these feelings to Catherine.
One line among these speeches is a real clincher for me. When she says, "I only wonder John could think of it; he could not have received my last," it feels like she's actually admitting that she wrote some rather unflattering things about the Morlands in her most recent letter to John. Insufferable!
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