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Lecture 12

Lecture 12 - 131021.doc

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University of Toronto St. George
Deidre Lynch

Lecture 12 – 131021 The quiz last week asks to find the contrast between Elinor and Marianne when writing letters - Elinor writes ‘proper’ letters to her mother - Marianne writes letters of passion – cries from the heart o Eventually, Marianne’s letters are laid out for us one by one (we read them because Willoughby returns them) o We don’t read Elinor’s letters o She was counting on Willoughby being a gentleman but he wasn’t - Austen sets things up in such a way that the letters aren’t read by the people who they are meant for o We read them as ready by another party (Elinor and Willoughby’s fiancé, Sofia) - Letter is being read by people to whom it is not addressed to – diverted from its intended address - Austen learns from 18 century fiction – lesson that she draws is lesson from Elinor o Elinor is a figure of passion and does not take written form o We never see Elinor’s letters but we just hear about them from the narrator  We don’t hear her epistolary voice - An epistolary heroine vs. non-epistolary heroine o A post-epistolary heroine - Elinor is on the side of f.i.d – opposed epistolary heroine o We access to her thoughts through narrator rather than her letters - Epistolary fiction disappears or is only brought back for special effects after the 18 century - We feel more intimate with a heroine that writes letters o Austen includes her letters to get a sense of Marianne that isn’t blocked or limited - Insufficient privacy – evident to everyone that she’s writing to Willoughby - Letter form is also associated with ungoverned passion o Not something a proper young lady should be exposed in - Other problem with letters is that there’s a problem of authenticity o Ex: Lord Orville’s letter is actually Willoughby’s letter in Evelina - Vol. 2, ch. 7: Marianne says: “Elinor I have been cruelly used…” o When Willoughby makes his dramatic reentrance to the novel, we find out that his fiancé directed him to write the letter o Vol. 3, ch. 8: “And in short, what do you think of my…”  Within the letter form, there’s a possibility for inauthenticity and unreliability - If we feel more intimate with the heroine who writes the letter that we can read, does that mean we can’t feel more intimate with Elinor? o Elinor is so much about being reserved and saying the expected and polite thing (not saying what she thinks) o Elinor has incredible self-discipline o Because no one else is sympathizing with Elinor, we feel in that gap  We as the readers, we do the work of empathy that no character is doing on her behalf  That increases our sympathy for her - Samuel Richardson (author of middle of 18 century of Pamela and Clarissa) o Cor-respondence  Word “core” is in the term so it’s about the soul  Heart of the self in letters - Samuel Johnson o We don’t lay bare our own hearts to ourselves – we keep secrets from ourselves  “I don’t know my heart; I prevent myself from having knowledge of my heart”  “Why would I lay it open to my friends if I can’t open it to myself?” - F.i.d gives us that’s even more private that what letters give us – gives us what the character only half know of herself (the unconscious as Freud would put it) o Elinor is a kind of heroine with an unconscious o Gives us a way of thinking why we might feel that we know Elinor without having this traditional 18 century access to her o Austen makes a choice to focalize the narrative more through Elinor’s POV throughout the novel  She’s written into the position of heroine a character that defines herself more as the character’s confidante  Elinor is the listener to other people’s stories – closer to being a narrator than being a character  Her story is kind of invisible to the other characters • She gets hurt that we get Elinor wondering whether she’s been forgotten through f.i.d - Austen changes the history of the novel by casting her protagonists as silent and listener to other people’s stories and depository of other characters’ secrets o Elinor’s repression – Marianne thinks that shows up is going to be Willoughby but turns out to be Brandon or Edward o Elinor never thinks it’s going to be Edward – her inability to let herself desire or to acknowledge her desires  She dare not lay open to herself o Elinor is a clearing house for secrets and messages in the novel  Nunciatory function – announces news  She’s the one that passes on Brandon’s message to Edward of the parished priest  She conveys the story of Eliza to Marianne and her story to Willoughby and his story to Marianne • Messenger to this love triangle – only person to know the whole story • Command to all the subplots in the story - Elizabeth is similar to Elinor as she’s more involved in Jane’s love story than her own in Pride and Prejudice - Austen seems to direct attention to the character that’s more forgotten by others in the novel - There are a lot of threesomes and foursomes – perverse novel o “Jane Austen and the Masturbating Girl” article  Marianne in position of masturbating girl  Elinor is livi
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