It was impossible for Charlotte not to suspect a good deal of fancy in such an extraordinary state of health. Disorders and recoveries so very much out of the common way seemed more like the amusement of eager minds in want of employment than of actual afflictions and relief. The Narrator, Ch 9
Charlotte believes the Parkers ailments are imaginary. Diana makes arrangements for Mrs. Griffiths even though not asked to do so. Charlotte meets Susan and Arthur Parker. One is worn by illness and medicine, the other does not look ill at all. Arthur is engrossed in eating buttered toast and cocoa. Mrs. Griffiths arrives in Sanditon bringing only three young ladies. One is a Miss Lambe a sickly heiress that Lady Denham thinks will do for Sir Edward. Charlotte and Mrs. Parker walk to Sanditon House. Charlotte sees Clara Brereton and Sir Edward secretly meeting. Lady Denham seems put out by their arrival. Clara returns and lies about her delay. Sir Edward arrives unaffected. Charlotte realizes that they deceive Lady Denham who would not approve of their match. Sir Edward extols upon the virtues of sea-bathing and encouraging both ladies to try it. Charlotte realizes that her first impression of Sir Edward and Lady Denham were not true. She and Mrs. Parker walk home. Talk of Sidney Parker catches her off guard.
Charlotte meets the two additional Parker siblings, Susan and Arthur. Visiting there lodgings is like entering a sick ward. The windows are closed and the fire is blazing even though it is a fine summer day. It does not take Charlotte long to conclude that their ailments are imagined fancy since there is a discrepancy with the activity they are about and their hypochondria talk. Diana is running all over town in preparation of Mrs. Griffiths’ arrival and Susan has relocated the three of them from the hotel to lodging moving heavy boxes herself. “It would seem that they must either be very busy for the good of others or else extremely ill themselves.” Arthur appears in good health, though he needs to sit by the fire to ward away damp sea air and his rheumatism. As Charlotte becomes better acquainted with the Parkers medical maladies we begin to really see Austen making fun of people attaching illness as an identity. This family revolves around illness or activity. Such a dichotomy! The bit with Arthur’s speech about toasting bread and sneaking butter behind his sisters was hysterical. This is truly burlesque comedy. Who does not know someone who secretly eats or has done so themselves? Ha!
Miss Lambe was beyond comparison the most important and precious, as she paid in proportion to her fortune. She was about seventeen, half mulatto, chilly and tender, had a maid of her own, was to have the best room in the lodgings, and was always of the first consequence in every plan of Mrs. Griffiths. The Narrator Ch 10
All the wheels of communication behind Diana’s efforts to bring two large families to Sanditon end in embarrassment for her. There is only one Mrs. Griffiths of Camberwell and the West Indians are one Miss Lambe, a sickly heiress that neatly fills Lady Denham’s requirements for a wife for Sir Edward. Her practical nature regrets the long journey from Hampshire, a brother disappointed, an expensive house for a week rented, “and worse than all the rest, the sensation of her knowing that she was not clear-sighted and infallible as she had believed herself.” It did not trouble her for long. Besides Miss Lambe, Mrs. Griffiths brings only two other young ladies with her. Austen describes the two Miss Beauforts as “common as any young ladies in the kingdom with tolerable complexions and showy figures, very accomplish and very ignorant.” This made me laugh out loud. She is mocking what young English ladies are raised to be by showing how shallow they are. Their true ambitions are only the pursuit of admiration by men and the accumulation of fashion in order to captivate some man of better fortune than their own. Ouch! Is Charlotte the only character of virtue in this novel? I do not think I have ever seen Austen dig so deep into human imperfections than in Sanditon!
Among other points of moralising reflection which the sight of this tete-a-tete produced, Charlotte could not but think of the extreme difficulty which secret lovers must have in finding a proper spot for their stolen interviews. The Narrator Ch 11
Charlotte plans to visit Lady Denham at Sanditon House for the first time with Mrs. Parker. Always the salesman, Mr. Parker wants his wife to turn the social call into business opportunity and solicit Lady Denham for a charity cause. His sister Diana, always churning alway at some activity for others has a long list of charities that she would like Mrs. Parker to ask her Ladyship to contribute to also. Now, Mrs. Parker is a very biddable sort of woman, but even she has her limits retorting that she “could no more mention these things to Lady Denham than I could fly.” I did not expect that reaction at all. I love it when Austen has characters react in the opposite of what we are expecting. This point is proved further when Charlotte sees a secret assignation between Clara Brereton and Sir Edward Denham. I expected this from Sir Edward who fancies himself in the “line of a Lovelace,” but not of Clara. What does she have to gain from their relationship? She is an impoverished cousin serving at Lady Denham’s whim. To endanger her relationship with her would be foolish. She seems smart. What does she see in him? Charlotte is puzzled also. “The connection between Clara and Sir Edward was as ambiguous in some respects as it was plain in others.” She seems to abhor their deceit yet sympathize with their plight. “To be continually at the mercy of such an old lady’s whims struck Charlotte as being particularly hard upon a young couple.” Is Austen being purposely ambiguous also?
Still extolling the pleasures of bathing, he sought to entertain them with his longest syllables and most edifying sentences. “To plunge into the refreshing wave and be wrapped round with the liquid element is indeed a most delightful sensation,” he assured them. “But health and pleasure may be equally consulted in these salutary ablutions; and to many a wan countenance can the blush of the rose be restored by an occasional dip in the purifying surge of the ocean.” Now, he hastened to add, trying to bow to them both at the same time, “that either of my fair listeners would need the rose restored to their lovely cheeks.” Sir Edward Denham, Ch 12
Well, there is definitely nothing ambiguous about Sir Edward and his continued foppery and nonsense speeches. His choice of sensual words to two young ladies is most inappropriate, oozing total seduction. How can any woman, no anyone take him seriously? In comparison to Austen’s other bounders, rakes and rattles, he is like a toady Mr. Collins preaching the efficacy of love instead of religion. Our heroine Charlotte sees right through him. The rest of the community, not so much. The only other person who has the potential to set things in balance with his honest opinions, neat equipage and fashionable air is Sidney Parker, who shall sadly remain the mystery hero of Austen’s oeuvre.
superfluity, circuitous, hitherto, efficacy, dross, perturbation, solicitude, importunate, assignation and assiduously.
- Sanditon: On line text at The University of Virginia
- Sanditon: List of Characters
- Sanditon: Plot Summary of Chapters 1-4
- Sanditon: Plot Summary of Chapters 5-8
- Sanditon: Plot Summary of Chapters 9-12
- Sanditon: Quotes & Quips Chapters 1-4
- Sanditon: Quotes & Quips Chapters 5-8
- Sanditon: Quotes & Quips Chapters 9-12
- Sanditon: Additional Resources
- By the Seaside with Sanditon Event Schedule
By the Seaside with Sanditon: Day 6 Giveaway
Enter a chance to win one copy of Sanditon: Jane Austen’s Unfinished Masterpiece Completed, by Jane Austen and Juliette Shapiro by leaving a comment stating what intrigues you about Sanditon, or who your favorite character is by midnight PDT Friday, March 26th, 2010. Winner to be announced on Saturday, March 27th. Shipment to continental US addresses only.
Upcoming event posts
Day 6 – March 20 Review: Sanditon (Hesperus)
Day 7 – March 21 Sanditon Completions
Day 8 – March 22 Event Wrap-up
© 2010 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose