Tuesday, 31 December 2013

William Walter Elliot- another type of hypocrite

From volume 2 chapter 5 of "Persuasion"- Anne Elliott about William Walter Elliot:

"...Though they had now been acquainted a month, she could not be satisfied that she really knew his character. That he was a sensible man, an agreeable man, that he talked well, professed good opinions, seemed to judge properly and as a man of principle, this was all clear enough. He certainly knew what was right, nor could she fix on any one article of moral duty evidently transgressed; but yet she would have been afraid to answer for his conduct. She distrusted the past, if not the present. The names which occasionally dropt of former associates, the allusions to former practices and pursuits, suggested suspicions not favourable of what he had been. She saw that there had been bad habits; that Sunday travelling had been a common thing; that there had been a period of his life (and probably not a short one) when he had been, at least, careless in all serious matters; and, though he might now think very differently, who could answer for the true sentiments of a clever, cautious man, grown old enough to appreciate a fair character? How could it ever be ascertained that his mind was truly cleansed?

Mr Elliot was rational, discreet, polished, but he was not open. There was never any burst of feeling, any warmth of indignation or delight, at the evil or good of others. This, to Anne, was a decided imperfection. Her early impressions were incurable. She prized the frank, the open-hearted, the eager character beyond all others. Warmth and enthusiasm did captivate her still. She felt that she could so much more depend upon the sincerity of those who sometimes looked or said a careless or a hasty thing, than of those whose presence of mind never varied, whose tongue never slipped.

Mr Elliot was too generally agreeable. Various as were the tempers in her father's house, he pleased them all. He endured too well, stood too well with every body. He had spoken to her with some degree of openness of Mrs Clay; had appeared completely to see what Mrs Clay was about, and to hold her in contempt; and yet Mrs Clay found him as agreeable as any body.

Lady Russell saw either less or more than her young friend, for she saw nothing to excite distrust. She could not imagine a man more exactly what he ought to be than Mr Elliot; nor did she ever enjoy a sweeter feeling than the hope of seeing him receive the hand of her beloved Anne in Kellynch church, in the course of the following autumn."

The 1st paragraph in the excerpt is reminiscent of Fanny Price's thoughts on Henry Crawford in "Mansfield park", but the rest is different, making William Elliot, compared to Henry, a more hypocritical hypocrite, less 'noticeable', more dangerous. For the time being I don't know what he'll do or what I'll think about "Persuasion" after reading the whole book, but this part is so astonishingly well-written, which, again, proves Jane Austen a master and the best at depicting phonies*, that I have to post it here. 

*: At this, in my opinion, she's also better than Tolstoy, at least "Anna Karenina" doesn't have such a variety of phonies as in her works, and the phonies in "Resurrection" are even more similar, less vivid, less convincing, more like caricatures, as at that point of life Tolstoy sacrificed his arts for philosophy and politics. 
This entry was intended to be published before midnight, but my writing was interrupted by fireworks :D So, 

Update at 4.40pm: 
I suppose the last good thing that happened to me in 2013 was the discovery of Jane Austen (not when I read the 1st book, "Emma", but when I came to see her greatness, 1st whilst rereading many parts of "Sense and sensibility" and then saw it more clearly in "Mansfield park"). For, along with this discovery, were several other changes. 1 is the view on life, human beings, myself, relationships between men and women... (which, in turn, affected my opinions of certain works, including "Jane Eyre"). More important is my view on literature, as I realise that the subject matter is not very important. A book is well written or badly written, that is all.

No comments:

Post a Comment