Posted by Margie on June 12, 1997 at 11:08:40:
In reply to S&S and Emma posted by Kathy F. on June 08, 1997 at 15:45:52
] Why was the secret engagement of Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill so morally reprehensible in Emma but the secret engagement of Lucy Steele and Edward Ferrars no big problem in S&S? Was it that people object to LS so violently that the bad morals of the secrecy was not thought of?
] Thanks for any input.
Great question. It's had me thinking for a day and a half,
and I'm delurking to participate in the discussion.
What I've been thinking is that the plots of Emma
and S&S, the characters of the people commenting on the
engagements, and the characters of the people involved in
the engagements, all led to a greater level of moral outrage
being expressed toward the Churchill-Fairfax engagement.
In Emma, the characters commenting on the engagement
are known for their frank and open tempers. The only
constraint Emma would feel expressing her opinion to Mrs.
Weston, is that she knows Mrs. Weston is fond of Frank, and
it wouldn't be mannerly or kind to bash him too severely.
Knightley experiences no constraints at all when talking
to Emma about the engagement. Also, as others have pointed
out, Emma's friends thought that she was attached to Frank,
and that he had deliberately led her on. I think this
contributed to their sense of moral outrage, and the fact
that she wasn't actually attached to him allowed her
friends to speak freely about it in front of her. Frank
tries to excuse himself for seeming to court Emma, by saying
that he believed her to be immune to falling in love with
him. You can't trust this, because it's so self-serving,
and in fact, Emma was initially strongly attracted to him.
Also, Frank seemed to enjoy aspects of the deception,
and this too, seemed to contribute to the reaction. Jane,
who didn't enjoy the deception at all, got a lighter
sentence in the court of public opinion, I think.
In S&S, Elinor is the first to hear of the Ferrars-Steele
engagement, and she has three reasons not to express a
strong reaction to it: Lucy had asked her to treat it as
a confidence; she didn't want to give Lucy a reason to
gloat over her own (Elinor's) suffering, and she didn't
want to aggravate her own suffering by whipping up her
feelings with what she thought and said. When the
engagement became more generally known, it seemed to me,
people who were close to Elinor, tried in some degree to
respect the way she was handling the situation.
Though JA does say that, at first, Edward seemed to Marianne
to be a "second Willoughby", and Elinor had to talk
Marianne out of her bad opinion. I also think, like you,
that people had other things to be outraged about relative
to this engagement, and so expressed less outrage about
the engagement itself. Elinor's nearest and dearest,
were outraged that the poisonous Lucy Steele had trapped
Edward, and everyone was outraged that nasty Mrs. Ferrars
was cutting Edward off without a cent (or rather, without a
shilling). I also think Edward was treated more gently in
the novels than Frank, because Edward was basically a more
decent guy than Frank. Edward really did believe that
Elinor was immune to him, because he, unlike Frank
(or Hugh Grant), was genuinely a modest man. Edward also
seemed to have a fairly tender conscience, and didn't
enjoy the false position he was in.
Anyway, those are my opinions. Thanks for making me think!
Now for a stupid newbie question -- is it OK to let the
lines wrap, or should I be inserting hard carriage returns?
All the best,
(JA groupie since 1962)
Posting followups to old messages is disabled; instead go to the main index and post a new message which mentions this one.