Welcome to Read Along Wednesday! I hope everyone is enjoying Lady Susan. We’re still playing with our format for these read alongs, so please bear with us as we work out the kinks. Currently we’re posting weekly segments at The Writer’s Block and using it as a forum to share our thoughts and observations about this spectacular little book. Be like Lady Catherine de Bourgh – have your share in the conversation! We want to hear from you.
This week’s reading includes the only letter in the book from a man other than Mr. De Courcy. Catherine Vernon’s valid concerns regarding “the very rapid increase in Lady Susan’s influence” over her brother have become known to her father, Sir Reginald. He writes to his son, and Mr. De Courcy’s response reveals just how far he has fallen under Lady Susan’s spell. Relish the exchange as you read it, for it is wonderful. Do you find Mr. De Courcy’s defense convincing?
Lady Susan only pens one of the letters in this segment, but in it her character is revealed with shocking clarity. The gang and I were brainstorming ideas, in the early planning days of this read along, when Rebecca suggested Lady Susan might be sociopathic. According to the Mayo Clinic:
Antisocial personality disorder, sometimes called sociopathy, is a mental condition in which a person consistently shows no regard for right and wrong and ignores the rights and feelings of others. People with antisocial personality disorder tend to antagonize, manipulate or treat others harshly or with callous indifference. They show no guilt or remorse for their behavior.
Now that we have gotten to know Lady Susan a bit better, what do you think? Austen does an excellent job using letters to expose the inner workings of her characters’ minds, and she has given ample evidence of Lady Susan’s untrustworthiness. Even when writing to Alicia Johnson, when Lady Susan is at her most candid, Austen gives us reason to doubt her words. How far do Lady Susan’s deceptions actually go? Has she even fooled herself, or is her grasp on reality all too strong?
Mrs. Johnson to Lady S. Vernon
My dearest Friend,–I congratulate you on Mr. De Courcy’s arrival, and I advise you by all means to marry him; his father’s estate is, we know, considerable, and I believe certainly entailed. Sir Reginald is very infirm, and not likely to stand in your way long. I hear the young man well spoken of; and though no one can really deserve you, my dearest Susan, Mr. De Courcy may be worth having. Mainwaring will storm of course, but you easily pacify him; besides, the most scrupulous point of honour could not require you to wait for his emancipation. I have seen Sir James; he came to town for a few days last week, and called several times in Edward Street. I talked to him about you and your daughter, and he is so far from having forgotten you, that I am sure he would marry either of you with pleasure. I gave him hopes of Frederica’s relenting, and told him a great deal of her improvements. I scolded him for making love to Maria Mainwaring; he protested that he had been only in joke, and we both laughed heartily at her disappointment; and, in short, were very agreeable. He is as silly as ever.
Continue reading Lady Susan and join in the discussion at The Writer’s Block: http://austenauthors.net/writers-block/lady-susan/lady-susan-letters-9-14/#p128.