Manners makyth man
Posted by Helen on January 21, 1998 at 15:50:02:
In response to The nature/nurture debate, written by MB on January 19, 1998 at 19:18:11
] This is based purely on my thoughts about P&P, not on any knowledge of 18th century schools of thought (as mine would fit in a thimble!)
Would that be a C18th thimble, then? and could you tell the difference?
] JA does seem to "support" the nature end a little bit more. Darcy being drawn to the "natural" Elizabeth Bennet, JA contrasting the artificial "friendship" and "kindness" of the Bingley sisters to the real affection of their brother, admiring the "real" elegance (no false adornment) of Pemberley over the extravagance of Rosings, etc.
Yes, but what about Lydia, as pure, unadorned "natural" woman? Hardly an argument in favour of Rousseau's method of letting the child discover itself unchecked? This relates to Patrick's post on balance in Persuasion above, where he says that P&P doesn't blame society. I agree, it doesn't, but it does seem to blame individuals for their own faults and for the faults of their children - the tension between nature and nurture is a consistent theme in JA's work, and I think gets its fullest treatment in MP (though no definitive answer).
Also, on the "real" elegance of Pemberley: I got very carried away in thinking about this with proposing Capability Brown and his landscapes as a model for JA's ideal of the nature/nurture balance - think of the gentle, rolling fields at Pemberley: not wild and untamed, nor over-cultivated, giving an air of naturalness but in fact the product of many hours of careful gardening. In this sense, one could almost take Pemberley, in Darbyshire, as a midpoint again - between the wildness of the Lakes (which Elizabeth never reaches) and the social constraints of the South of England.
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