Posted by gkb on June 22, 1998 at 11:44:51:
In response to Cruelty in subjecting you to ramblings& possible kernel of truth?, written by Bonny on June 22, 1998 at 07:45:19
]... some people have suggested to me that Sir T.'s anxiety about social position (his daughter's marriages; "motives of greed and ambition" etc)could stem from the fact that the title is only recent, like P&P's Sir Lucas.
This is textually possible, but somehow, my impression is that he is one of a long line of country families. The profound understanding he has of the power and practice of 'influence' does not seem recently acquired, and he has no snobbery, no ambition to hobnob with royalty--he rather disapproves of the 'fast set' that TOm belongs to, and which Maria falls victim to.
...]He interprets everything by his standards (again I'm not quite sure what all of them are)without seeing reality.
This is very true indeed. And how natural! All of us do this to some extent. It is the only method an unimaginative man would have for understanding other people. Even discerning Fanny feels more affection for her absent cousins than they have ever done much to deserve--interpreting their characters by her own standards. I am beginning to believe that Sir T.'s rigidity is based in his lack of imagination--his limited vision-- rather than his wish to control circumstances.
] THE KERNEL
...The way he interprets adults(he respects their rights and views to an extent)/children(interprets them by his own criterion), and perhaps that's why he misses what Mrs norris is about & interprets her so badly. Its his blind spot. I feel he has no insight or flexibility into dealing with his children.
Perhaps insight is a better word than imagination, but either one would enable him to put himself in other people's places, instead of projecting his own standards and reality onto them as though they were a blank screen ready to receive his version of reality. Of course, Lady Bertram IS a blank screen ready to have her mind filled and her being defined by Sir T.'s presence and personality. Now this is a form of patriarchal imbalance which I think is very damaging to the male character--the inability to see another human being as having a separate and equally valid existence as himself. Regardless of whether this blindness comes about because of great love (which makes him subsume the Other into himself as a subsidary Part of Self) or because of great egotism (which makes him discount as worthless the views, opinions and existence of the Other in comparison with the Self), it is the foundation of inequality and the root of domination. Only recognizing--first, last, and in-between--that other people are complete mysteries, other souls, does a man like Sir Thomas begin to develop true insight into individuals, rather than treating them as Types to be manipulated into obedience.
- Woww! Who needs sunglasses now? ;-) nfm Constanza 12:25:28 6/22/98 (5)
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