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Thanks! -- Arnie Perlstein, now living in "Portlandia"!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

More of Lucy Ferrars' (Lucifer's) Satanic Scheming

In Janeites this morning, Anielka Briggs wrote the following:

"If Lydia acted as she did in a sustained act of planning that creates a crisis from which she emerges with an elevated status, might we suggest Lucy Steele behaves in a similar manner? We might surmise she has even gone to the lengths of "catching" Edward when all along her affections were given to Robert: that she and Robert planned the crisis in order to disinherit Edward?"

I responded as follows:

That is close to the scenario that I was the first to ever write about.

In July 2002, I went halfway there, when I wrote the following in Janeites:

"Chapter 41 of Sense & Sensibility: Edward comes to Lucy to announce the news of Colonel Brandon's generosity, and she "rejoices". But surely that is not what she wants at that point, because my theory is that she's already working on Robert, her latest project. As the narrator will shortly describe in Chapter 50, if he's already given up on trying to stop the engagement, he must have already gone to see Lucy, and so Lucy's already baiting the hook.After all, a living at Delaford isn't beans compared to the Ferrars family inheritance. But she's just getting started with Robert, that's not a sure thing, because Elinor visits John and Fanny, and John says that the family now expects Robert to marry Miss Morton. So it sounds to me like Lucy has not yet sealed the deal with Robert--if she had, you can bet she'd have already whisked him away and married him before anyone could stop them."

Then by 2006 my thinking had evolved to the point that I could crystallize my thinking publicly as follows on the S&S Board at the Republic of Pemberley:
"Which is exactly what Robert would be doing, i.e., keeping his relationship with Lucy secret, in reliance on Lucy's assurance that once she springs the trap on Mrs. Ferrars, by giving her the petard to hoist herself on, a great deal of money will be his in a way that cannot be taken back. And it all comes out exactly as Lucy promised, how could he resist her? In fact, I just realized one of JA's wonderful ironies. In Chapter 22, Elinor at first guesses that Lucy is secretly engaged to Robert Ferrars, but then Lucy tells her it is really Edward. And then, in Chapter 48, we have the bookend of that scene, where Elinor guesses that Edward has married Lucy, but then finds out that it is (after all) Robert who has married Lucy. Of course this can be read ironically without subscribing to my reading, but it is ironic in a new and additional way under my reading. And read the first few paragraphs of Chapter 33 and consider the possibility that Robert Ferrars is there on purpose, and is checking Elinor out while pretending to be obsessively interested in a toothpick case at Gray's. Which is why he takes so long, and why he keeps looking Elinor over. He already is Lucy's "partner in crime" at this time, probably having the thrill of his life participating in such a scheme."  END QUOTE

As you can see, I have been fond of the Hamletian "hoisting on one's own petard" analogy for a long time.

As I have been blogging about Lucy Ferrars for some time now…

…that sort of "judo" is indeed how Lucy lives up to her married name, LUCY FERrars ==> LUCIFER, which is the name puzzle Jane Austen created 202 years ago, and which I was the first modern scholar to solve 8 years ago. The Devil never acts directly to do bad things, the Devil is like Iago--(s)he always works through the hands of others.  Because, in a deeper psychological sense, the "Devil" is nothing more than human foibles projected outward onto a mythological external being, instead of owning one's own foibles.

On another related subject, thanks to you, Anielka, yesterday I revisited my own prior research about Satan/Devil/Lucifer in Jane Austen's fiction, and I came upon yet /another/ literary allusion in regard to that infernal matrix (literally) hiding in plain sight in one of her novels, an allusion which I had never detected before (nor, as far as I can tell, has any Austen scholar). This allusion to the Fallen Angel, like the Lucy Ferrars wordplay, is not Biblical (or Miltonic). But it goes to the heart of the Austen novel in which that allusion occurs, and it is a beautiful thing, hiding in plain sight like all of JA's best allusions.

The Black Gentleman was never far from JA's radar screen, and, as I have suggested, this is in part because JA as an author is so Satanic, i.e., via the Jane Austen Code I've been investigating for 11 years now, she always allows the reader to walk down the garden path of misperception voluntarily, she always plays fair and always gives the reader a fair chance to avoid error.  Popular movies like The Devil's Advocate and Bedazzled pick up on this same essential motif, which dates back to Marlowe's Doctor Faustus and beyond....

Cheers, ARNIE
@JaneAustenCode on Twitter

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