Was JA pro-balance?
Posted by Helen on January 16, 1998 at 12:43:07:
In response to enlightening FP, written by Caroline on January 15, 1998 at 21:15:23
I think this is a very interesting question - especially in the light of Patrick's vehement argument that she was not! ;-) The problem is that writers do not always make the best (or the most loquacious) analysts of their own material. And like most authors, when she does try to work to a plan (consciously in MP making it address "serious" questions) it is not perhaps her most successful accomplishment. But the "light and bright and sparkling" comment you quote suggests that she was pro-balance - too much light (P&P) and too much darkness (Catherine Morland's gothic romances) are Bad Things.
I think this discussion about MP as an Enlightenment work is very interesting - because one of the trends of the Enlightenment was the move towards secularity in thought, and MP is concerned fundamentally with religion, which complicates matters somewhat.
And the religion element links to what you say about "the concept of being born bad doesn't exist" - because on the one hand, religion as I think JA accepted it did not presume that people were stuck with being bad - but it did demand that they see themselves as born bad in the sense of sinful - and take responsibility for the change, as opposed to the Rousseau-style belief that we are born innocents who are corrupted by society. I think that guess what? JA strikes a balance in the nature/nurture debate. And where do you place the "motiveless malignity" of a Wickham (the quote is Coleridge on Iago, by the way).
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