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|The puzzling James Morland (long)
Written by Art
(4/20/2003 6:54 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Well, Speaking of James......, penned by BarbaraB
I read such different accounts of James as puzzle me exceedingly :-). When he first appears back in chapter 7, he seems not only to be a good brother to Catherine ("being of a very amiable disposition, and sincerely attached to her"), but to be immune from John Thorpe's blustering ("Morland remonstrated, pleaded the authority, of road-books, innkeepers, and milestones" ... "it was only ten o'clock when we came from Tetbury" ... "you forget that your horse was included"). Six chapters later, he's joining the Thorpes in their underhanded attack on her. And if the earlier speculation about his studying for the clergy is correct, then his support of John's lie to Eleanor Tilney is astonishing. Perhaps he even drank more than his bottle a day in Oxford, contrary to Catherine's belief.
Then there's Isabella's influence. Most of the time, he takes Isabella's side of things, but there is also that time in chapter 9 when he directly contradicts Isabella, making her change her mind -- or at least her stated opinion: "till Morland produced his watch and ascertained the fact; to have doubted a moment longer then, would have been equally inconceivable, incredible, and impossible"
And then his letter in chapter 25. Though undeceived about Isabella, he still thinks well of John -- "his honest heart would feel so much". I would think that, after constantly correcting John on the facts, he would have at least a suspicion of John's true nature. Which takes me off on a tangent speculating how James and John became friends in the first place, and whether it was based on the same naive trust that characterized Catherine's early acquaintance with Isabella.
Is anyone else puzzled by these apparent contradictions? Or does everyone but me understand him perfectly?
One more thought, and I shall have done: given James' concern about Catherine meeting Captain Tilney -- "I wish your visit at Northanger may be over before Captain Tilney makes his engagement known, or you will be uncomfortably circumstanced" -- I wonder what James thought of Catherine's marrying into the Tilney family. Would he be the least bit shocked that his beloved sister is joining the family that had played such a role in his own disappointment?
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