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|Interpretations--The Men of NA: Is it just me?
Written by BarbaraB
(4/23/2003 12:35 a.m.)
First I want to say that I am truly enjoying this group read. I love reading/studying/discussing JA's works with fellow members of Pemberley. I am very grateful to Cheryl for having us, for being such a great host and keeping such a wonderful sense of humor about it all.
There is a particular topic that I am having trouble with in NA. To begin with, this book has a uniquely modern feel to it to me. (Applause to JA; how does she do it! If you traded the modes of transportation, clothes, and manner of speech, it could easily be taking place in today's world.) Maybe this is what, to some extent, is causing me such a difficult time. My problem is the signals I'm receiving from the men in NA and the reactions of the characters, general interpretation and to some extent author intent as related to the time period.
For instance, take Frederick and his flirtation with Isabella. Can there be any doubt that he is stepping outside the code of gentlemanly behavior when he engages Isabella in a flirtation particularly when she is engaged even though she is willing? And even if this were to be overlooked, what about the disrespect he is showing James by this behavior. Didn't men actually challenge each other sometimes for things like this? While I can't see James doing this, wouldn't there at least be grounds? Henry, one of my favorite JA characters, so honorable, responds very mildly to this himself. Then there is the General sending Catherine off on her own. This seems to me to be an extraordinaryly outrageous breech on his part regardless of what he thought of Catherine. Anyone noting a young girl traveling alone might have taken advantage under the circumstances. The signal given in such a situation is that there is nobody who cares about this young lady. She might be seen as fair game, wouldn't she? It seems to me she was put at terrible risk being made to travel alone at such a distance. The reaction of the her parents is surprise, wonder at what the General could have been thinking, but they quickly brush it aside. I know they are trying to be soothing to Catherine but it seemed to be the end of it for them too. And, I know there wasn't much they could do about it but they seemed to get over it so easily. And then, I guess everyone is pretty familiar with how I feel about James and his lack of concern for his sister's welfare.:-)
I guess the point I'm making is where are all the Regency codes? Is it just me? Am I trying too hard to make my interpretations through the Regency period. Does this story call for a more relaxed view of the expectations of these men than JA's other works where the men who step outside the bounds seem to come under sterner censure? I know we all respond to things differently which in my estimation is what makes discussions so great but there also must have been some author intention in this area. Does anyone have a clue to the meaning of it? I feel like I've suddenly lost my way, am rather turned about. I would kindly appreciate any responses that would help me sort things out. I hope this all makes sense. It's rather late and my waning brainpower has my lightbulb on dim. :-) Thanks.
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