Posted by JacqueJ on July 23, 1997 at 14:32:09:
To put this in context, I have read through letter 9. I thought I understood Catherine Vernon until I got to letter 8.
Initially, she seems to be a fairly savy, smart woman. She has her eye on LS and sees her for what she is. She sounds like she has her feet squarely on the ground.
In her description of LS in letter 6 seems to be candid and honest. She is willing to give praise where it is due – Lady Susan’s beauty and accomplishments – but she also is still aware that these outward attributes cover a questionable interior. She even shows her own humor by getting in a cheap shot.
But I cannot forget the length of her visit to the Manwarings; & when I reflect on the different mode of Life which she led with them, from that to which she must now submit, I can only suppose that the wish of establishing her reputation by following, tho' late, the path of propriety, occasioned her removal from a family where she must in reality have been particularly .happy.
She is not totally wise to LS – she thinks that LS is corresponding with Mrs. Manwaring, when we all know that the correspondence is with Mr. Manwaring.
However, in letter 8, her judgement falters. She referrs to Reginald’s letter (#4) and it sounds like she completely missed the point (at least it sounds like she read a different letter than I did!). I read Reginald’s letter as saying he was looking forward to meeting LS, and while he knows her reputation he does not condemn her for it. CV says:
What stronger proof of her dangerous abilities can be given than this perversion of Reginald's judgement, which when he entered the house was so decidedly against her? In his last letter he actually gave me some particulars of her behaviour at Langford, such as he received from a Gentleman who knew her perfectly well, which, if true, must raise abhorrence against her, & which Reginald himself was entirely disposed to credit. His opinion of her, I am sure, was as low as of any Woman in England; & when he first came it was evident that he considered her as one entitled neither to Delicacy nor respect, & that he felt she would be delighted with the attentions of any Man inclined to flirt with her.
I suppose that it is possible that upon his arrival Reginald affected contemptuous attitude in order to play hard-to-get, but it still seems to me that CV misread his letter.
Any other takes on this are welcome.
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