Posted by Laura Wallace on November 15, 1997 at 16:15:01:
In response to Mebbe so, but . .., written by Sari on October 17, 1997 at 13:13:19
I am inclined to agree, yet in the novel, she keeps mentioning it before to Mr. Tulliver, and how she is almost eager for him to die first then she could wrap him up in the linen? Or something like that? I wasn't too sure, and had the tendency to wave it aside as female silliness, but it kept popping up in the book, so I was naturally curious.
I haven't read the book, so perhaps I am misunderstanding your question. But in addition to table linens, linen was also used for a few other specific purposes. One was underclothes. Another was a fine white shirt that a gentleman would wear. Another was as a shroud to wrap a body for burial.
Hence, the term "wrap it up in clean linen." I interpret this saying in two ways: one, putting clean clothes on, pretending that what's underneath isn't dirty. The other, shrouding it in linen and burying it, or pretending that it didn't happen. The term applies figuratively to a situation one wishes didn't happen and needs to explain away. In modern parlance, we would say, "put a spin on it."
Posting followups to old messages is disabled; instead go to the main index and post a new message which mentions this one.