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Cecilia
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message 1: by Gabriel (new)

Gabriel Spencer Well, so far (through chapter vi of the first of three volumes), the book plays out just as you might expect an Austen predecessor to play out. Cecilia's conceited, but in a righteous way. She is perfect, displaying no flaws in her own behavior. She is the colorful bird in a cage, taken from her country place and settled in public, where she sits in judgement of others, observing a multitude of flaws in the behavior of others.
I predict she will show herself to be Godly, true, just, compassionate in the face of resistance, beautiful despite her modesty, a little naive in the management of her wealth, and in every degree a progressive woman who considers the advancement of the feminine mind, subservient only to God, the highest good achievable. The evil of the book will come from the men, who look to despoil her beauty by following their brutish appetite, rob her of her wealth, and ennoble themselves with her capture.
When in college, I read a 1694 book by Mary Astell called "A Serious Proposal to the Ladies." It described a type of retreat, removed from the societal pressures of dress and accomplishments and marriage, where women learned to do acts of charity while sharpening their reflective skills of the mind. I feel as if Cecilia has just reentered society, having vacationed at Astell's retreat.
I hope, sorry to say, that I am wrong, and that some flaw will present itself in Celilia's character. Is she going to be a real person after all, or a paradigm.


message 2: by Gabriel (new)

Gabriel Spencer In Chapter nine, Cecilia is practicing her charity by applying for the redress of wages due for an old, poor woman whose husband has gotten too sick to apply for the wages himself. As the wages are yet to come, she has given her some immediate money in the meantime, and would give more, but a would-be suitor of hers, Mr. Arnott, has lavished much upon the woman. Burney writes, "But as her benevolence was a stranger to that parade which is only liberal from emulation, when she found more money not immediately wanted, she put up her purse."
This sentence, though brilliant, I have a problem with. Burney is saying that Mr. Arnott's generosity was borrowed from Cecilia's own generosity, and hence not as valuable, though more voluble. That's fine. Burney is the writing in third person omniscient, and she can say what she likes, making Mr. Arnott as low a person as she likes. But, what I have a problem with, is her suggestion implicit in this sentence that Cecilia would have given more money had she been familiar with the motives of Mr. Arnott. I can't agree with that.
If a person, motivated by charity, wants to give money to a poor person, then finds they are actually well off, their charity ends right there. How many times do we see the upset of charity when the beggar outside of Costco is picked up by a friend in a Mercedes. People don't even need to see this. They can just read about it in the news, and then project what they read to every poor person they see standing with signs in parking lots. The reaction is to put the purse away. If money is not wanted, then charity is not charity.
Regardless of Mr. Arnott's motives, Cecilia wouldn't have given money to a woman who needed none. That's just obvious. I think Burney is making Cecilia into a paradigm that does not encourage anybody.
Or, and I just thought of this, Burney is expressing the naive idealism that commonly strikes young people, people just about the age of Cecilia, who is just about to inherit her independence, and who had just come up with a plan of self-betterment. Burney is showing Cecilia's idealism.
Hmmm. That would be brilliant. But I'll have to see more to be convinced.


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