JA and interference
Posted by Laraine on April 23, 1998 at 14:18:16:
In response to Interference, written by Kinter on April 23, 1998 at 13:23:42
] ] On reflection, the only example of interference which JA seems to approve of totally is Mr Darcy's action in forcing Wickham to marry Lydia. (Though maybe Marrianne's marriage to Col. Brandon might count here, too.)
I think JA felt that interference should be judged by what motivated it and by whether it had a fortuitous outcome. I tried to think of some examples:
- the ending of NA: ...professing myself moreover convinced that the general's unjust interference, so far from being really injurious to their felicity, was perhaps rather conducive to it, by improving their knowledge of each other, and adding strength to their attachment, I leave it to be settled, by whomsoever it may concern, whether the tendency of this work be altogether to recommend parental tyranny, or reward filial disobedience. (bad motivation, good outcome)
- Lizzy trying to interfere about Lydia going to Brighton (good motivation, just unable to win the point, and to a horrible end)
- Colonel Brandon interferes by telling Elinor about Eliza Williams (good motivation, the best outcome)
- Mrs. Norris constantly tries to interfere, but her motivation is completely selfish. Sir Thomas doesn't interfere even though he knows Maria doesn't love Rushworth; his motivation is at best inattentive and at worst greedy.
- Emma interferes in Harriet's life because she's bored. Mrs. Elton interferes in Jane Fairfax's life because she's a control freak. These enterprises are doomed. But Mr. Knightley interferes in Robert Martin and Harriet's life because he knows they are well matched; his work eventually has a happy result.
- Mrs. Smith interferes in Anne's life (tell her story) at first because she needs the help and then in order to help Anne know her cousin's true nature. This has some mixed motivation, but in the end Mrs. Smith is trying to do good for unselfish motivations, and the positive result is thatWentworth helps her to get her property back. I don't think that Mrs. Smith has any effect on Anne's actual behavior. She'd have rejected Mr. Elliot for FW no matter what.
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