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|GR: Introducing Sir John.
Written by joe m
(8/12/2003 11:26 a.m.)
On my first reading of S&S, I felt that I had completely misjudged Sir John. My initial impression of him as a perfect gentleman in his letter and first visit to the cottage was overthrown once I saw him in his own environs. So I decided on this read, to see what I had missed.
Before learning his name, we learn that Sir John is a “gentleman of consequence and property.” His letter was “written in the true spirit of friendly accommodation”, and in “so friendly a style.” All the offers described in the letter reinforced my first impression of him during my first reading. He is, at first blush, all easiness and gentlemanly.
Sir John’s first visit to the cottage was equal to his letter. “His countenance was thoroughly good-humoured; and his manners were as friendly as the style of his letter.” His words showed a genuine kindness, and it was followed up by action in sending fruits, vegetables and game to the family. So once again, the opinion of my first reading was confirmed. Sir John begins the story as a very affable and amiable man. The first hint that his friendliness may become excessively irritating is in the visit with Lady Middleton: “Her manners had all the elegance which her husband's wanted.”
However, on this reading, I’m finding that the annoyance I had for him later, (when we meet him in Mrs. Jennings company), is far less irritating when you know it's coming. His extra glib style is foreshadowed when he’s described at the end of chapter 6 as ‘chatty.”
At his worst in chapter 7, “Sir John was loud in his admiration… of every song, and as loud in his conversation… while every song lasted.” Still, overall he is all kindness and good nature. There’s a bit of oblivious insensitivity to him, but nothing worse. So it appears my misreading the first time around was not in the first impression, but rather in the follow up at Barton Park.
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