Driveling along ;-p
Posted by Erin on May 04, 1998 at 23:12:56:
In response to Even longer... (I'm sorry), written by Helen on May 04, 1998 at 17:43:54
Well, I think that here we run into the problem of the construction of the work of art and its relationship to life. In interpreting a piece, every member of the audience/reader should take the hero's situation and apply it to themselves. The minor characters simply don't have that kind of function. So you can't say, "what statement is made with Charlotte", because we simply aren't supposed to take her on the same level as we take the heroes. Ultimately, in these terms, her life is simply less important.
I think we can agree that Darcy and Elizabeth hold center stage in P&P, and that the Mr. Collinses, Lady Catherines, Lydias, etc. play "supporting roles" or functions. However, I think there is an exception with the character of Charlotte. I find the significance of her portrait second only to Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. This may be due to the fact that I find her life-choice to be interesting from a late 20thc. perspective. And if that's the case, we may just want to throw this out the window. On the other hand, I suspect (which is all that I can do) that Austen treated the character with notable ambiguity, which is why I am not able to entirely dismiss the significance of Charlotte. But we go 'round and 'round in mindless speculation....
I don't think even this is tragedy - it's too grounded in the day-to-day realities of life... a train of novelistic thought which will reach its apex in Arnold Bennet, ie. presenting life as basically grinding people down. It's depressing rather than cathartic.
I grant that describing Charlotte's "inability" to affect Austenian virtue falls outside the formal, Aristotelian definition of tragedy (not to mention the fact that P&P is not tragic), I find it hard to accept the claim that Charlotte-as-statement and its reception by an audience regarding a human condition is merely depressing rather than cathartic. I would staunchly argue the point that what is often a "depressing" report eventually transforms into a cathartic, life-altering revelation. (This idea is the essence of Nietzsche's thought).
To return to the theory of Greek tragedy/poetry, I would argue that the nature of catharsis, simply put is the process by which the audience perceives that the origin of the particular instances of pity and fear is a universal reality of the human condition. Catharsis is an intellectual clarification, which enables the viewer to apprehend the universal nature of a particular event or action. This corresponds to Aristotle's theory, where the essential goal of tragedy is learning --defined as seeing the individual act and the universal law it illustrates.
Erin, darling, I'll always listen to your drivel... you drivel better than anyone I know... ;-)
LOL! Oh my dear friend why do I feel ambiguous about this comment? ;-) Based on my comments above, I continue to drivel. ;-p
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