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Written by BarbaraB
(4/18/2003 9:48 p.m.)
It's been kinda neat watching the learning/growth process of Catherine. We learn right from that start that our dear girl has no love of learning. She'd rather tumble down hills than be confined to being educated. Her parents do not insist on it as much as they should but I think they do the best they can under the circumstances. With a neverending flow of siblings, I'm sure they couldn't spend but so much time with the frustrations of keeping Catherine still and focused on the tasks of schooling. I would have liked the tomboyish Catherine but today she would be a 'fright' in the classroom. I would venture to say there would be much discussion about having her tested for Special Ed or to see if she was ADHD.
Her trip to Bath begins another level of education. She commences to learn immediately from her experiences there, the things she sees and the people she meets. She even learns from Isabella and John---[The 'It-Girl and His Royal Thorpness :-)]. Catherine accepts them on face value thinking they are no different than the people she has associated with all her life. She discovers that the world is made up of many types of people, some with less than desireable character. This teaches her that she needs to be more discerning and observant which leads her to being able to begin to think for herself.
Catherine is now beginning to see the value of all the things she spurned as a young girl, the things that would have helped her to transition into a young lady in society with confidence. She now regrets the cavalier attitude toward learning which she has always held so dear. "In the present instance, she confessed and lamented her want of knowledge; declared that she would give any thing in the world to be able to draw;" Enter Henry and Eleanor who do much to instruct her. Her declaration of wishing to know how to draw prompts Henry to instruct her on the picturesque. Both of them point out the merits of reading/knowing History. The 'I-have-learnt-to-love-a-hyacinth' statement is the result of Eleanor's tuteledge. I belive it represents that the fact that Catherine has learned to appreciate the beauty of flowers and gardens in general. As a youth she "Indeed had no tastes for a garden and if she gathered flowers at all, it was chiefly for mischief..." I think partly her embarrassment in her conversation with Henry about hyacinths stems from her feelings of inadequacy, of having to admit yet, again, an area where she is lacking.
Then she visits the Abbey and as Cheryl, I belive, has pointed out she stumbles along her journey of improvement. A possible defense might be the fact that things 'so-gothic' so to speak, emerge and with Henry's eventual departure, she allows herself to venture into her imagination spurred on by her love of it and gothic-like events. (Just a theory). Nevertheless, she has learned a great deal. Unfortunately, she has chosen to forgo the use of her newfound sense of observation and reasoning for the thrill of placing herself in the role of a heroine of a gothic adventure. Watch out, Catherine!
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