歐美研究季刊第46卷第3期 - page 330

330
E
UR
A
MERICA
Austen gives the affective core of indifference another
touch as her narrative draws to an end. After Nancy Steele
carelessly exposes Lucy’s secret engagement, Elinor tells
Marianne that she has known it for four months, during which
she behaved as if nothing had happened. Marianne interprets
the appearance of indifference in terms of emotional
inadequacy, as Brontë did. Assuming that Elinor is able to
remain calm in the face of disappointed love because she does
not love Edward very much, Marianne says: “if the loss of
what is most valued is so easily to be made up by something
else [i.e. wishing Edward a happy marriage], . . . your
self-command, [is] . . . a little less to be wondered at” (Austen,
2006: 298). Elinor tries to undeceive her sister. She is able to
“appear indifferent where [she] ha[s] been most deeply
interested” (299) because, she tells Marianne, “I did not love
only him” (297). The adverb “only” challenges and transforms
Marianne’s understanding of Elinor’s indifference as lack of
feeling. It suggests the presence of another form of feeling that
exists alongside romantic yearning. Elinor succeeds in
appearing calm and unconcerned because her strong affection
for her family trumps her inclination to indulge in her personal
sorrow: “while the comfort of others was dear to me, I was
glad to spare them from knowing how much I felt” (297).
The extinction of Marianne’s strong feeling has long been
regarded as the key element in her transformation. When
Mudrick argues that “Marianne . . . has been betrayed” (1952:
93) by her author, he is lamenting the loss of Marianne’s
“heart of passion” (91). More recently, Shawn Lisa Maurer
sees Marianne as an emotionally unstable adolescent and
maintains that by the end of the novel she has outgrown
“psychological excesses” typical of a teenage girl (2013: 750).
But the role feeling plays in Marianne’s emotional maturation
is more complex than both critics allow. Consider one passage
where a repentant Marianne agrees to behave calmly and
I...,320,321,322,323,324,325,326,327,328,329 331,332,333,334,335,336,337,338,339,340,...VIX
Powered by FlippingBook