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Consider a longer excerpt

Posted by Anders on June 29, 2004

In Reply to: Thank you very much Dhm, R. Berg and Bob! posted by Natty on June 29, 2004

Hi all!
Check out a longer excerpt - it changed, or rather cleared up, the meaning for me, cf. below.
To me, there is nothing deviant about it! I.e. no sexual connotations whatsoever. What she means, the woman who entertains this view, is simply that a man who wants to do something (in this case marry), but lacks the power of will to bring it about, is somehow morally depraved. It's harsh, I admit, but entirely untrue. It matters a whole lot if one distinguishes between bring about and TRY TO bring about, which she unfortunately doesn't. The real kicker, though, is the fact that she lumps all bachelors into either one or the other of these two categories - the weak of intellect and the depraved. The quote, of course, serves the literary purpose of describing the woman who utters it - it tells us about her, betrays her - so there's no need to get all worked up (I tell myself)...

I fancy that the fact of my three collaborators being all bachelors diminished somewhat our chances of success, in Ethelbertha's mind. Against bachelors, as a class, she entertains a strong prejudice. A man's not having sense enough to want to marry, or, having that, not having wit enough to do it, argues to her thinking either weakness of intellect or natural depravity, the former rendering its victim unable, and the latter unfit, ever to become a really useful novelist.