|Kate Beckinsale as Lady Susan in the recent film, "Love and Friendship"|
Q1: Though Lady Susan quickly wins over most of the Vernon household, including the lovelorn Reginald, how does Mrs. Vernon begin to see cracks in Susan's mask? How does she begin to show her true "naked" features?
Q2: In criticizing her own daughter's affection for Reginald, Lady Susan writes that "Artlessness will never do in love matters, and that girl is born a simpleton, who has it either by nature or affection." What does she mean by this? Why does Lady Susan always place 'art' above 'artlessness'? What does she fear her daughter will never understand, that will make her "ridiculed and despised by every man who sees her"?
Q3: Is Lady Susan supposed to be read more as a comedy or a tragedy? Most epistolary novels were tragic in nature, and contained perilous life and death stakes for their characters (The Coquette, Pamela, Clarissa). Is Austen showing us the danger that results when reputation hangs in the balance? Or is she, like Pope, merely making fun of the pretensions and plots of the upper classes? Use a specific scene or letter to illustrate how you read the novel.
Q4: In class on Monday, I suggested that Lady Susan is in competition with ever woman in society--including her own daughter. Where do we see this mother/daughter competition in these letters? Is Frederica aware of the competition herself, or is this simply a byproduct of Lady Susan's vanity and ego?