Sunday, July 24, 2011

World of Women

I love the women in Sense and Sensibility. there are so many different shades of women in this book more then in the others I have read. They form a diverse tapestry that is the world of women. or at least a world of women. there are Heroins who are unjustly treated, used who come out brighter, smarter, and happier The Antagonists get what they deserve. the thing i like about Jane Austins books is that they really put on display how women interact with each other. at the heart of the book is the ways women say things with out saying anything, and how with a simple minor glance the back biting and fight for superiority in the room can be won without anyone not involved in the Skirmish will not have any idea of what is going on. Men may fight on the football field but women fight at the tea party.

For example we see Fanny go out of her way to get her husband out of any responciblity towards his sisters and step mother. She is now the women in control of the Dashwood house hold and she will not reliquish this hold for anything. there is a great scene in one of the movies in where Edward has just shown up, both Mrs. Dashwood and Fanny at the same time invight him to have a seat. Mrs. Dashwood is used to being the mistress and hostess of the house, Fanny is now the Mistress and Hostess. 

this is also the reason why Lucy Steele is the most hated of the 'villens' of Austen's works. she has mastered the art of feminan fighting. she knows that the way to get any mother to think she is a perfectly amiable maiden is to give the children large amounts of attention. she lets the children get away with many things they shouldn't and Lady Middleton, Mrs. Palmer, Fanny, and Mrs. Ferris can't help but think she is a perfectly amiable, and worthy of all their attention. At the same time she figured out that Elinor is a threat to her secret engagement with mr. Edward Ferris.  So under the guise of friendship she reviles this truth to Elinor under the strictest confidence and by using that as a means for friendship she continually talks about how she doesn't doubt his loyalty. both making her own love seem stronger then it is and deconstructing the love between Edward and Elinor. She is able to maneuver herself into the confidence of Fanny and Mrs. Ferris to the point where if she had been in love with a man of hire fortune then Edward they would have encouraged the match, but not for their own son or brother. 

This of course is one of my favorite points of this book. By their own attempts to thwart an attachment between Edward and an 'unworthy' mate Mrs. Ferris and Fanny encourage the attachment of another girl of low means. there is a scene in the book where Mrs. Ferris hosts a gathering where most of our characters are together. the most important are the Miss Steeles, Miss Dashwoods, Fanny, Robert Ferris, and of course Mrs. Ferris. When drawing by Elinor is shown to the group Fanny and Mrs. Ferris criticize the piece once they know that Elinor is the artist. they also constantly encourage Lucy. This of course is done to say that they will give no praise to the girl they know might be trying to get into their good graces. however by doing so they make Lucy think she is in their good graces which of course turns out to be their undoing when Lucy thinks that they like her enough to consider her worthy to be part of their family. 

Something else that is note worthy in this scene is the reactions of Elinor and Maryanne. Elinor laughs to herself because she knows exactly what is going on. yes it might have hurt her if she had been hoping to be on good terms with the Ferris family but sense she had already mourned her love for Edward, instead she secretly laughs how the women are setting themselves up to have a daughter-in-law who has very few amiable qualities.

Maryanne upon hearing the women unjustly criticize her sister's work she rally's to point out all the good qualities of the art. not because it was done by her sister but because Elinor's art work is very good. She doesn't know that they are rejecting Elinor as a suitor for Edward, thou if she had known that she probably would have said much more about their character, she just knows that they are treating her sister unfairly. So while the women who 'control' the destiny of Elinor's happiness reject her, at least her sister will always think the world of her and defend her.

It is the other thing that I love both in Sense and Sensibility and in Pride and Prejudice, the love of sisterhood and genuine affection the sisters have for each other.  whether it is the care Elinor gives to Maryanne when she is ill, or the way Lizzie refuses Darcy on the bases that he separated Jane from Mr. Bingley. but then i love stories about familial ties. 

I would love to talk about the witty good-natured valgarity of Mrs. Jennings, how Eliza, and her mother, are both examples of how the world can use and abuse innocent naivety. Or how Fanny controls her husband and how she and her mother try to control Edward and Robert. Or about how motherhood is dealt with and understood through the different mothers. but it has taken me to long to get this post out. Tune in next week for a discussion on the theme: widows and orphans.

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