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|GR: Confessing to Elinor
Written by Barbara
(9/18/2003 1:44 a.m.)
Here, I wanted to talk about the two confession scenes in this novel. There are no other scenes in Jane Austen's writing where a man makes a long face-to-face 'confession' to a woman about his past. Poor Elinor has to experience this twice, both from men involved in one way or another with her sister!
One thing I think is interesting is the kind of information our 19-year-old heroine is put in the position of hearing: an elopment, a duel, children born out of wedlock, pre- and extra-marital liaisons and affairs, a man whose 'pleasures are not what they ought to have been', family treachery, an account of a self-confessed libertine who plays games with young women's affections for fun, hatred for one's spouse, wishing one's spouse dead--even, and it pains me to say it--Colonel Brandon wishing Eliza Sr. had died rather than overcome her regrets of him and sink 'deeper into a life of sin'.
It's very strong stuff--particularly when earlier in the story, Mrs. Jennnings did not want to speak of the colonel's supposed illegitimate daughter for fear of shocking the young ladies present.
I really felt sorry for Elinor in having to hear all of this which must have been quite shocking to her, and worse, having to figure out how to put both of the confessions into words that would hopefully help Marianne more than they would hurt her.
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