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|On second re-read,
Written by Natchie
(8/29/2013 11:18 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Up through chpt. 31 now, in the re-read, penned by Nancy Ann
I have seen something else in Marianne that I hadn't noticed the first time through the novel. Whatever Marianne did before her marriage to Brandon was in "excess," whether it be her relationship with Willoughby or other things. She was what I call an "all or nothing" girl. As she revived somewhat in rational judgment after her long sickness and had through much thinking as she lay in bed somehow come to grips with the fact that she could move on without Willoughby continually in her thoughts, we get this sentence in Chapter 46 from Elinor, after Marianne tells Elinor that she has a plan for structuring her future days of reading and music: "Elinor honored her for a plan which originated so nobly as this; though smiling to see the same eager fancy which had been leading her to the extreme of languid indolence and selfish repining, now at work in introducing excess into a scheme of such rational employment and virtuous self-control."
Elinor was aware that Marianne's plans for structurng her life still smacked of excess. How many can spend their entire days reading and practicing the pianoforte?
The reason I was so struck by this is that I partake more than I want to admit of doing activities in huge chunks rather than in moderation. It has definitely characterized my reaction to the JA novels. I have read and read for long hours on end (all of yesterday to finish my second re-read of S&S, except for meals), been obsessive about posting on pemberley, and assiduously making up character and place lists and doing Internet research on Regency times--almost to the exclusion of everything but the most pressing personal business. Yes, I'm a regular Marianne in that, although--being of the more cerebral than feelings-oriented type--I would never have cried continually and refused to eat and ignored people over a lost love the way Marianne did.
One of the rewards of studying JA is that in her characters we find pieces of ourselves. Just as little children learn what to do and not to do from the famous children's stories that transfer the situation to those of speaking animals, Austen does the same for us in her characters. Even exaggerating their traits, she helps those of us caught up in the same condition to finally see just how bad it is to behave like that. It's such a temptation for me to lose myself in JA novels and not read them "in moderation." And what an excellent role model is in Elinor, where we see how moderation and keeping her thoughts to herself work themselves out to her advantage in the end.
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