Posted by Kathy F. on June 16, 1997 at 19:06:47:
The following is completely my own biased opinion, but I think there are two reasons that S&S is most people's fourth favorite: No proposal scene, and most of the love occurs outside of the book. (The second idea was put forth by somebody on this BB, I think, about Mansfield Park, so I am flagrantly plagiarising.) ;-)
In "the top three" books (P&P, Persuasion, and Emma) JA writes out proposals from the leading men to the leading ladies. I absolutely adore those scenes. She does not, however, for S&S, MP, and NA.
In P&P, P, and E, somebody's love is almost always in the forefront. In S&S, Elinor becomes attached to Edward within the first few chapters, then she has a relatively few moments throughout the rest of the book where she thinks about him, then they're engaged. Marianne spends too much time weeping about Willoughby and in the sick chamber because of her lost love, so for a good part of the book she is pining for something that cannot be. MP has the Crawfords as the major "love" sections, but they are not fit lovers for their objects, so they lose; then Fanny and Edmund get engaged with almost nothing written about his love, and her love getting weaker and being transferred to Henry Crawford, slightly. NA has the "mystery" as the main story, and little is said about Catherine and Henry falling in love until they are engaged. In these three novels, it is obvious at the end that the couples concerned are in love, but the scenes leading up to it are almost given as an epilogue--a few chapters at most, or else several lines scattered well throughout the novels.
Just a few thoughts...
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