No, not a liar.
Posted by Humpty-Dumpty (Margie) on October 10, 1997 at 21:57:38:
In response to Re: Good man?, written by Kathy F. on October 09, 1997 at 23:39:58
] ] At one point Jane even calls him a good man. I don't understand how she could view such a manipulative, exploitive, and self-centered man as good. She has such a wonderful honesty, and St. John is anything but honest. There are times when he's clearly feeling angry and vindictive toward Jane and he tells her he's not feeling these emotions.
] I would hesitate to call St. John a liar, because he truly feels that what he is doing is the right thing. Blind, yes. Liar, no. When he says that he is not angry, etc. towards Jane, I think it's more like he knows that he shouldn't be angry at her, and he's trying to stifle those emotions--more of a statement about what will happen if he can control himself, than what he is actually feeling as he is saying it. He probably thinks it is better to say that he is not angry at her and hope that he will eventually be not angry at her, than to say, "Yes, Jane, I hate you, you've ruined my plans, and you can go to the devil!" even if that is what he is thinking at that time.
Hi Kathy F.
I wouldn't call St. John a liar, either. I did a really bad job of expressing myself in my previous post. In particular I didn't say what I meant by the word honest in the phrase "anything but honest", and I used as an example "he's clearly feeling angry and vindictive toward Jane and he tells her he's not feeling these emotions", when the issue to me is not what he's telling Jane, but what he is telling himself.
To me, not being a liar is only part of what it takes to be truthful. I think being truthful has several aspects, but the only one that our culture seems to recognize is not lying. I think being willing to acknowledge the truth to oneself is a fundamental, and difficult, aspect of being truthful. That ability to own up to one's feelings, motivations, and the discrepancies between one's ethics and one's behavior is what I meant by "honest". (I feel just like Humpty-Dumpty now. A word means what I say it means!) I think JE has honesty in spades, and I think St. John lacks it.
I hear what you are saying about him trying to stifle the anger and vindictiveness and not act out of what he is experiencing at the moment. My own take is that he won't acknowledge to himself that he is experiencing those things, and it leaves him free to withdraw into a punitive and hostile silence -- it leaves him free to punish Jane. If he
could admit to himself what he was feeling, he would probably not allow himself to punish her.
I think that what I am calling "anything but honest" you are calling "blind". Yours is, by far, the kinder expression. I suppose in some ways "not conscious" would also fit. Whatever it's called, it's what makes St. John a scary character for me. Because he won't acknowledge his motivations and examine his behavior, he's free to ride roughshod over others in his attempts to get his own way.
Thanks for your input.
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