Quick Index Board Index Home FAQ Site Map
|My Mrs. Jennings
Written by Vianne
(9/1/2003 6:52 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, GR Pragmatic perspective, penned by Barbara
] Exactly. She is benevolent and motherly and as solicitous of the girls' well-being as she could possibly be, but with her pragmatic perspective she is never going to see that dried cherries and olives are not going to cure what ails Marianne, (snip)
] Doesn't believe in it--or perhaps doesn't even realize that such a thing as introspection of this type exists?
I am in agreement with you in all but this one point, and I admit it’s based solely on my own personal interpretation of Mrs. Jennings’ character. I think Mrs. Jennings does realize that such depth of feeling is possible, but refuses to allow these feelings to gain the upper hand; and I suspect it may be a coping mechanism taught her by life and experience. I say this, because I have known a Mrs. Jennings; a woman with a reputation as the party clown, the jolly mischief maker, one who talked a great deal too much and not infrequently went too far in jest. No one believed that she was capable of deep feeling, or possessed of any degree of sensitivity. I had the opportunity, indeed perhaps the privilege, of seeing this woman in the first moments of dealing with a deep personal loss, and what I saw gave me a new perspective on her character and endeared her to me. There was no doubt that she felt the deepest pain, but regained her self-control almost immediately. I could literally see her pluck herself up and go on. She tried to talk of pleasant memories and happy times; she sought diversions and distractions. I don’t know if she broke down again privately, but no one else saw the degree of grief she felt. She carried on, not through grim stoicism, but through a determination to look for life’s beauties. It was remarkable.
This lady has become “my” Mrs. Jennings, and I contend that behind her jollity, her somewhat unrefined prattling, and her occasionally tactless raillery, lay a soul who knew deep pain and despair, but refused to give in to it or be ruled by it. As such, I agree with you that she was very much better for Marianne’s present state of mind than Mrs. Dashwood would have been. Although seemingly ridiculous, offers of cherries, olives and sweetmeats have the advantage of not adding to Marianne’s misery. I think Mrs. Jennings knows that these cannot cure a broken heart, but she is wise and experienced enough to realize that nothing, save time, can. She talks of Marianne’s future with the Colonel, because she probably knows that Marianne believes herself at that moment to have no future at all. She seeks to distract her, to take her out of herself, and it is this solicitude which makes the “vulgar” Mrs. Jennings one of my favourite Austen characters.
] Believe me I am not criticizing Mrs. Jennings here, but if she did have the same types of strong feelings as Elinor and Marianne, she could not possibly be happy for her own daughter Charlotte and the behaviour of her son-in-law Mr. Palmer.
Is she really happy? And for that matter, is Charlotte? Or are they putting on a brave face, making the best of it, and refusing to allow disappointment to rule them? I don't say they are refined or even very bright, but they may have a wisdom of their own, and have decided that their own happiness depends to no small degree on their own attitude. Perhaps a bit like Pierrot: clowns with a tear?
Sense & Sensibility is maintained by Barbara with WebBBS 3.21.