Faith in Austen's heroines
Posted by Stolzi on December 07, 1997 at 16:35:13:
In response to Fanny's Faith - corrected (sorry), written by MB on December 05, 1997 at 11:26:48
Does not Elinor Dashwood pray at Marianne's bedside? A part of the novel, naturally, snipped in the movie script.
CS Lewis is amusing on Fanny's religiosity vis-a-vis Anne Elliot's:
"... I can see no evidence that Fanny's standard differs at all from that by which Marianne condemns herself or Anne Elliot corrects Captain Benwick. Indeed, since Anne preaches while Fanny feels in silence, I am a little surprised that the charge is not levelled against Anne rather than Fanny. For Anne's chastoiement [chastisement] of poor Benwick is pretty robust: 'she ventured to recommend a larger allowance of prose in his daily study, and ... mentioned such works of our best moralists, such collections of the finest letters, such memoirs of characters of worth and suffering, as occurred to her at the moment as calculated to rouse and fortify the mind by the highest precepts and the strongest examples of moral and religious endurances' (Chapter II). Notice, too, the standards which Anne was using when she first began to suspect her cousin, Mr. Elliot: 'she saw that there had been bad habits; that Sunday travelling had been a common thing; that there had been a period of his life (and probably not a short one) when he had been, at least careless on all serious matters.' Whatever we may think of these standards ourselves, I have not the least doubt that they are those of all the heroines, when they are most rational, and of Jane Austen herself."
If I had Mr Lewis here (and would that I could!) I would ask him if perhaps we notice Fanny's sense of religious duty more because it is a) backed up by that of her parson-cousin Edmund and b) in contrast at every turn with the cheerful and superficially more attractive worldliness of Mary Crawford.
Lewis' conclusion is that Fanny "is insipid (yet not a prig)."
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