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|GR: the role of Margaret
Written by Barbara
(8/13/2003 1:59 a.m.)
With S&S2 in mind, I was struck while reading at the relative absence of Margaret in the novel. Her name appears only 16 times in the whole book and after the way she is introduced as 'the other sister', almost as an afterthought in the last paragraph of Ch. 1, she doesn't say or do anything in particular until Ch. 7.
It seems, at first, small wonder that the makers of S&S0 and S&S1 decided to cut her out of their adaptations.
But then I got to thinking that much of what Margaret does so far in the novel makes Marianne's character at this stage clearer to us. With three girls, Marianne is the middle child, and because this is, in many ways, a coming of age story for Marianne, it's as though she's poised between being an adult and a child. Her interactions with Margaret show Marianne's youth and immaturity.
The Ch. 7 reference is Margaret agreeing with Marianne that Colonel Brandon is 'an absolute old bachelor'.
When Marianne and Margaret go out walking in Ch. 9, they are behaving in a particularly carefree, childlike way, too restless to sit inside and read or draw like their mother and Elinor, laughing at the sensation of trying to resist the wind, and finally running headlong down the hill "with all possible speed."
Margaret tattles on Marianne when she sees Willoughby cutting a lock of Marianne's hair:"Oh! Elinor," she cried, "I have such a secret to tell you about Marianne."
And Margaret and Marianne gossip together. The Ch. 1 reference that Margaret "already imbibed a good deal of Marianne's romance" makes me picture them huddled together, giggling and sharing secrets, as they have done about Elinor. I enjoy this sisterly exchange from Ch. 12:
No, I don't think we can dispense with Captain Margaret in the story at all!
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