Saturday, 15 August 2009

Jane Austen Quote - Week 69 by Linda

In Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 17, Edward says:

“…I never wish to offend, but I am so foolishly shy, that I often seem negligent, when I am only kept back by my natural awkwardness. I have frequently thought that I must have been intended by nature to be fond of low company, I am so little at my ease among strangers of gentility!”

"Marianne has not shyness to excuse any inattention of hers," said Elinor.

"She knows her own worth too well for false shame," replied Edward. "Shyness is only the effect of a sense of inferiority in some way or other. If I could persuade myself that my manners were perfectly easy and graceful, I should not be shy."

"But you would still be reserved," said Marianne, "and that is worse."

Edward stared -- "Reserved! Am I reserved, Marianne?"

"Yes, very."

"I do not understand you," replied he, colouring. "Reserved! -- how, in what manner? What am I to tell you? What can you suppose?"

Elinor looked surprised at his emotion, but trying to laugh off the subject, she said to him, "Do not you know my sister well enough to understand what she means? Do not you know that she calls every one reserved who does not talk as fast, and admire what she admires as rapturously as herself?"

Edward made no answer. His gravity and thoughtfulness returned on him in their fullest extent -- and he sat for some time silent and dull.


One may take this as a definition from JA for ‘reserved’ and ‘shy’. Yes? No? At another site, there is quite a war about the shy controversy. Personally, I like the above definitions even though we may call it speculation.

Linda the Librarian

Pic: Edward Ferrars, from this site


Icha said...

Wow! Linda, I really think these definition of reserved and shyness. I agree with the shyness... and somewhat finds Elinor's (or Marianne's) interpretation of reserved is so amusing.

Well done!

Lynnae said...

Edwards shock at being called 'reserved' is that somehow Marianne has found out about his secret engagement, another meaning of the word reserved. (also toyed with in Emma, when Frank Churchill says of Jane Fairax, one 'cannot love a reserved lady' after Emma described Jane Fairfax as being reserved.
I think Elinor misunderstands his discomfort and smooths it over by saying Marianne would call anyone 'reserved' who wasn't as outgoing and flambouyant as Willoughby.

Icha said...

Oh... I didn't see it in that context. A good analysis, FitToSeeJane, thanks a lot for your opinion!

So, is 'reserved' an old English word for 'engaged', or was Jane Austen just being cryptic about it?

Mariana said...

Hello Team Jane, I'm back from my long vacation. I see that Maria sent already the banners. They are very beautiful. I Love them both -with a preference for the 2nd one :)) Congrats Maria!!

I found your quota very interesting Linda. I could not stop thinking this may have again something to do with Mr Lefroy, as he was described as a shy person and both main characters, Edward F and Jane F (coincidently, there is a teasing episode about the name of their lovers if you remember, for Elinor in S&S and Jane F in Emma) were secretly engaged and also described as being very reserved/shy ...hmm, this reminds me about that sentence from Jane's first surviving letter: "He is a very gentlemanlike, good-looking, pleasant young man, I assure you. But as to our having ever met, except at the three last balls,I cannot say much; for he is so excessively laughed at about me at Ashe, that he is ashamed of coming to Steventon, and ran away when we called on Mrs. Lefroy a few days ago."


Rachel said...

One definition of 'reserved' is "Set aside for the use of a particular person or party; Cool and formal in manner." It does make sense that Edward is shocked when he thinks that Marianne has found out about his secret engagement. I also had not analysed it in this way but it is very clever.
It really does bring light to the gentlemanly masks of Edward and particularly Willoughby and how underneath these masks, they are actually rather inhumane.