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» Ship of Fools   » Community discussion   » Heaven   » April Book Group: Cotillion by Georgette Heyer (Page 3)

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Source: (consider it) Thread: April Book Group: Cotillion by Georgette Heyer
Brenda Clough
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# 18061

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He clearly has important business interests there, risking life and limb to go supervise them.

Another fairly dingbat theory I heard the other day is how Pride & Prejudice has a hidden background around enclosure.

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Net Spinster
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# 16058

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quote:
Originally posted by Brenda Clough:
He clearly has important business interests there, risking life and limb to go supervise them.

Another fairly dingbat theory I heard the other day is how Pride & Prejudice has a hidden background around enclosure.

There were a few other crops grown in Jamaica though pepper and coffee are the only one I'm aware of (apparently Jamaica pepper is also known as allspice). However sugar was the best known product and Jane Austen would be assuming that her readers would interpret the Bertram fortune as being in large part on sugar (nothing else would explain the father spending so much time in Jamaica and taking his heir given the risks such as yellow fever).

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Jane R
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# 331

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Enclosures started in the 16th century IIRC and were mostly done by the 1750s. I doubt they would have been a major social issue in 1810.
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Brenda Clough
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Sugar is a notoriously labor-intensive crop, which means that the Bertrams were indeed either slave-owners or heavily involved with slave-owners. There's a million Ph.D theses in the analysis of slavery in English literature -- Mr. Rochester's fortune is clearly tied to wherever it was Bertha Mason came from, and his complaints about her may be tied to her Creole ancestry. A touch of the tar-brush could be blamed for all her mental issues.

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Jane R
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# 331

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Enclosures were an issue in England, not the West Indies. In medieval times, agriculture was more of a cooperative venture - the inhabitants of a village had parcels of land in the community's fields, together with the right to graze animals on common land. This all came to an end when landowners realised that it was cheaper, easier and more lucrative to enclose the land and graze sheep on it (which provided wool for the English cloth trade), but it happened much earlier than the time Jane Austen is writing about.

If the starry-eyed optimists are right and Sir Thomas's mysterious trip to Antigua was to free his slaves, it is probably because his family land was enclosed early, giving him the opportunity to make huge profits in the Agricultural Revolution. Thus allowing the family to maintain their lifestyle with less income from the West Indies plantation.

Agree with you about Mr Rochester, btw. Not such a great prize, even before the fire.

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