5 Matching Annotations
  1. Last 7 days
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    1. perfectly good spirits

      Lady Russell is minimising Anne's heartbreak - she whisked Anne away to Bath to get her mind off Wentworth unsuccessfully. Anne's aversion to Bath is probably why she doesn't visit with Lady Russell each winter (it seems odd for Lady R to leave her behind)

  3. Mar 2022
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    1. She says there was hardly any veal to be got at market this morning, it is so uncommonly scarce.”

      Veal, the meat of young male calves who are slaughtered between eight and twelve months of age, is not as popular in the UK now as it was in Austen’s time. At the time, it was an expensive food, hence Mr. Bingley’s decision to offer White Soup, which was made with veal broth, at the Netherfield Ball. It is unsurprising that Bath residents like the Allens would be accustomed to finding this expensive meat in the market since, as Maggie Lane explains, Bath was second only to West London “in the range and luxury of its shops” ('Domestic economy' 14). Its geographic location put it at great advantage to receive variety and high quality in foods: meat from Wales; fruit and vegetables from the Cotswolds; dairy produce from Somerset and Devon; fish from the River Severn; and imported wines from Bristol (13). So, Mrs. Allen’s concern about a shortage of veal in the Bath market strikes Lane as somewhat odd. However, as Lane herself states in more recent work, “any mention of a specific food stuff in Austen is made by a character who is thereby condemned for being greedy, vulgar, selfish, or trivial” ('Food' 268). Austen’s letters confirm that she learned about the complex social meanings of food and eating from her own domestic duties. So, although this might seem like a passing remark on Mrs. Allen’s part, it brings attention to the triviality that characterizes both Mrs. Allen and Mrs. Thorpe.

      Mrs. Allen’s remark highlights her selfishness as well as her inadequacy as a guardian. Catherine is walking in from spending more time with Isabella and Mr. Thorpe, and her intuition about his dishonesty, although not yet formulated as such, is conveyed through her thoughts about him. She realizes that he “did not excel in…making those things plain which he had before made ambiguous.” After being with him, she feels “extreme weariness” creeping over her. But Catherine’s intuition is not affirmed by her temporary guardian, Mrs. Allen, who rather than ensuring that the Thorpes are good company for Catherine, is much more concerned with the shortage of veal. The veracity of Mrs. Thorpe’s information itself must be questioned, given that her children characterize deceitfulness. Yet, in addition to underscoring character flaws, Mrs. Allen’s and Mrs. Thorpe’s reliance on the market to acquire their meat emphasizes their class. As Barbara K. Seeber points out, “[t]o be able to command food that others cannot inscribes social hierarchy” (94, 97). In this case, while Mrs. Allen and Mrs. Thorpe might be performing refinement and wealth in their preference for veal, their inability to access it emphasizes what they do not have—a large estate and cattle.

      Today, veal is consumed globally. It is prized for its tenderness, which requires that calves be restricted from exercise to avoid building muscle. For long, the farming industry has used crates to confine calves and restrict their mobility, a practice that animal advocates deem inhumane. In January 2007, the European Union banned these crates. The UK has implemented this ban for calves destined to be slaughtered for food. Otherwise, since bulls don’t produce milk and adults are not deemed good for meat, male calves are often shot when they are born. Calf crates continue to be used in the US and other countries.

      Veal production and consumption remind us of the power dynamic that justifies human dominance over nature. Seeber has argued that this dynamic was familiar to Austen, who was well aware of its intersection with male dominance over women (97-99). Indeed,these two power dynamics intersect in characters like John Thorpe, whose preference for hunting and mistreatment of horses signals his perception of Catherine Morland as prey to be caught and consumed.

      Works Cited

  5. Jan 2022
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    1. Every morning now brought its regular duties—shops were to be visited; some new part of the town to be looked at; and the pump-room to be attended, where they paraded up and down for an hour, looking at everybody and speaking to no one.

      Jane Austen’s contemporaries, including everyone from the laboring poor to the royals, shared a belief in the restorative power of spring water and in the consumption of natural remedies. In the years when Austen was writing Northanger Abbey, the warm springs offered at Bath’s Pump rooms were a popular treatmentfor those suffering from loss of appetite, nerves (Mrs. Bennett!), gout, and ailments affecting the stomach, head, and vital parts.

      In 1813, a guide to the resort claimed that the waters contained carbon dioxide, azotic gas, sulphates, muriate of soda, selenite, carbonate of lime siliceous earth, and a very small portion of oxide of iron (Guide 32). These properties probably gave the water a sulfuric aroma. As the opening of this chapter suggests, though, whether ill or healthy, the resort provided for all. For the healthy visitor, the prime activity was to consume in ways that are familiar to us: purchasing clothes or textiles, as Catherine learns to do from Mrs. Allen, window-shopping, and people-watching.

      These lines express Austen’s awareness of the period’s rapidly growing consumer market, resulting from an unprecedented growth in the middle class, which in turn increased demand for domestic and foreign goods. Purchasing power allowed Bath visitors to pay about one guinea a month for access to the warm spring waters served in the newly renovated Pump Room, and to provide a handsome gratuity to the pumper serving water from the King’s Springs .jpg) (Guide 38). But they would likely also be paying to imbibe other popular drinks, including tea, coffee, and chocolate, which albeit pricey were increasingly affordable to the growing middle-class (Selwyn 215). As any Austen fan knows, the Pump Room continues to serve tourists today. Although bathing is no longer allowed, tea, chocolate, coffee, and warm spring waters can still be imbibed.

      Walking the streets of Bath with Catherine as we read through Northanger Abbey’s first volume, we might keep in mind who teaches Catherine her consumer habits, and how the novel’s development may be commenting on these practices. We might also consider how the novel records a turning point in the consumption of natural remedies and other goods extracted from apparently distant communities and environments. How much do our current consumer habits differ from Catherine’s?

      Works Cited.

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    1. Neither robbers nor tempests befriended them, nor one lucky overturn to introduce them to the hero.

      Is Catherine Morland’s journey to Bath really as dangerous as the narrator leads us to believe? Or is the mockery of the sentence simply a way to highlight Catherine and Isabella Thorpe’s absurd fascination with romance and adventure? The narrator’s concern about poor weather, robbers, and accidents is not at all unfounded or unexpected. Travel in the Regency era was difficult, expensive, and could be dangerous. Today, travel by train from London to Bath takes about an hour and a half; on the coach, it would have taken about 14 hours. This chart provides more details. Roads were frequently full of mud and ruts, which only slowed down journeys. Horses were replaced about every ten miles and carriages only went between eight and ten miles an hour!

      Stagecoaches were the primary mode of long-distance travel during the Regency era, but they were not always a safe or fast method of travel. The stagecoach was first introduced to English roads in the early 16th century, and by the 17th and 18th century had become a common sight on the roads. Drivers were not on their own to plan journeys. They had the very handy resource of Cary’s New Itinerary; or, An Accurate Delineation of the Great Roads, Both Direct and Cross throughout England and Wales; With many of the Principal Roads in Scotland which provided information on routes, inns, and other important travel information.

      While coaches had become common, their rise in popularity resulted in the expansion of the presence of highwaymen. These men terrorized the roads of England, and for 100 years Hounslow Heath, near London, was the most dangerous place in the country. The roads to Bath and Exeter ran across the Heath and these travelers provided rich targets for the highwaymen. Learn more about the highwaymen here.

      Catherine’s journey to Bath is uneventful, which is to be expected, but the dangers that came with stagecoach journeys highlight the possibilities that came with travel in the Regency era.

  8. Jul 2017