Posted by Arnessa on November 12, 1997 at 19:02:47:
In response to Moral rigor, written by gkb on November 11, 1997 at 20:57:30
Also, the small communities she wrote about mirror our own communities psychologically, so we can see how to work out the problems of public/private selves in her work. She brings real problems of the individualized self as against and within the community--how to achieve individual freedom yet observe our duties to one another--what could be more relevant in the age of 'ethnic cleansing'?
I think the world of JA is attractive to us today because our communities have disintegrated so much. (except our little community at Pemberley, which is so special precisely because it flies in the face of this trend)
People work, go home, get up and go to work again, hardly ever taking the time to stop and get to know their neighbors, much less invite them over for a bit of socializing.
I remember reading a few years back how things had changed so much that it is now an act of rudeness to drop by someone's house unexpectedly. There are no more visiting hours where people welcome society into their homes. I remember thinking how strange it was in P&P that Lizzy's reasoning was that since Georgiana and Darcy had done her the kindness of a visit on the very day of Georgiana's return from town, it was incumbent upon her to visit Georgiana at Pemberley THE VERY NEXT DAY. Today, we'd probably think that rude. We would probably think it better to wait to visit after a few days, so the host just returning from a trip wouldn't be so harried. I suppose part of the difference is that they had servants and we do not. But I think a large part of the difference is that we don't value society as much as we do privacy nowadays. And I think we like JA because she makes us realize the value of society even while exposing its ills. She evidently enjoyed people herself and that comes across in the books.
And however awkward it is for our heros and heroines to conduct a courtship in full public view, it seems somehow sweet. All the difficulties and confusions that society, in the guise of the Mrs. Bennets and the Mrs. Jennings, throws into the mix seem quaint, much more quaint than the difficulties and confusions a single woman faces now in trying to determine whether the seeming gentlemen she just met at a bar is a mass murderer.
Anyway, that's my take. I have to get back to work. More later.
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