By Barbara Hardy
A analyzing of Jane Austen (first released by means of Peter Owen in 1975) has confirmed itself with critics and readers as a great contribution to the becoming literature in this writer, packed with clean and stimulating perceptions. critical to the observe is Bar
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PP, pp. 265-6) The analysis casts back to an earlier stage which it rejects, not coldly, but emotionally: Elizabeth is ashamed of having felt a dislike that could be called hating; she is no longer repelled by the respect she first felt unwillingly, which has grown warmer than respect, 'somewhat of a friendlier nature'; esteem is slipped in, without comment, and then joined by gratitude, with the rational explanation, an explanation which brings in a warmer word, that of love. Not yet in love, she sees herself as 'grateful* for his past and continued loving, The Feelings and the Passions 53 despite her conduct.
The group is examined, not merely displayed, but her examination is overt and implicit. Her groups are never shaped by the simple conflicts or convergences of humours as they are in Richardson and Fanny Burney, and the comic drama of the eighteenth and seventeenth centuries. She is concerned to compare the behaviour of the individual in the group with his behaviour when he is alone or with his intimates. Some of Jane Austen's characters are only vital in groups, like the simplified, almost caricatured figures of Mr and Mrs John Dashwood, Mr and Mrs Elton, Mrs Morris and Miss Bates.
At the beginning of Persuasion, for example, the sharp, clear-outlined caricature of Sir Walter Elliot makes it very plain that we have before us a case of the perversion of feeling, the channelling of various emotions in one too narrow but powerfully flowing current: Sir Walter reads his favourite book, the Baronetage, where 'he found occupation for an idle hour'. There follows a list of his diverted emotions: Sir Walter Elliot, of Kellynch Hall, in Somersetshire, was a man who, for his own amusement, never took up any book but the Baronetage; there he found occupation for an idle hour, and consolation in a distressed one; there his faculties were roused into admiration and respect, by contemplating the limited remnant of the earliest patents; there any unwelcome sensations, arising from domestic affairs, changed naturally into pity and contempt, as he turned over the almost endless creations of the last century—and there, if every other leaf were powerless, he could read his own history with an interest which never failed....
A Reading of Jane Austen by Barbara Hardy