This is a long shot but being good to your family and being seen to be good to your family is attractive; those that care for others and treat their own with respect win the prize in the love stakes in the Austen world. (Maybe this sentiment lies behind the fact that men with babies appear attractive.) Beware of anyone who denigrates their own family. It is a warning bell loud and clear. This is not to say that one should be loyal to your family under any circumstances. One wouldn’t want to be like the Mafia! But it is a basic test when looking for friends or partners that someone who can be compassionate to their family and their family’s faults will have a good perspective on life.
Doing the right thing by your family shows commitment and compassion. Even in our world where we fiercely protect a person’s individual rights we know that those seen bitching about their family appear tacky. In Emma, Seemingly-Suitable-Frank Churchill is tardy in visiting his newly remarried biological father, Mr Weston. (Remember Frank was adopted by his rich Aunt and Uncle on the death of his mother when he was young.) Mr Weston explains, “He has been wanting to come to us…Ever since September: every letter has been full of it; but he cannot command his own time. He has those to please that must be pleased.” But we wonder as does Emma, “one can hardly conceive a young man’s not having it in his power…” Mr Knightly, our straight talking man of integrity, has other reasons for disliking Frank Churchill but he makes the pertinent point that doing the right thing by your family shows integrity. He says, “a sensible man would find no difficulty in it”. And “If Frank Churchill had wanted to see his father he would have contrived it between September and January”. Jane is suggesting it is important to do what is right, not what is expedient. “Respect for right conduct is felt by everybody.”
Flawed-But-Fabulous-Elizabeth Bennet jokingly says that she started to be attracted to Mr Darcy when she saw Pemberley in Pride and Prejudice. But with a meticulous meandering I have obsessively read that book and listened to it on my Ipod until I think my family thought I was completely nuts! -and I will credit that she first felt something for Mr Darcy when she read his letter justifying and explaining some of her accusations. Darcy had proposed to her, making it clear that he’d fought himself given her poor connections. It was less than flattering to Elizabeth who is also angry at his role in separating her beloved sister, Optimistic-Jane from Mr Bingly. And we cannot forget Elizabeth’s belief in Dr Darcy having disinherited Mr Wickham. Elizabeth is out walking the next day when Mr Darcy hands her a letter that admits his role in the separation of Jane and Mr Bingly but reveals Mr Wickham as the villain and not hero. Elizabeth reflects on all of Mr Darcy’s actions and a softening towards Mr Darcy occurs when she thinks that “even Wickham had allowed him merit as a brother, and that she had often heard him speak so affectionately of his sister as to prove his capable of some amiable feeling.” This is it – when Elizabeth begins to be smitten, though her prejudice won’t allow her to admit it to herself yet. Being seen to show sisterly love is sexy!
In Pride and Prejudice when Elizabeth Bennet walked across the muddy meadows and arrives on foot (shock) and disheveled (horror) to see her sister Jane who is sick at Netherfield, she is held up to ridicule by the Bitchy Bingley sisters. “To walk three miles, or four miles, or five miles, or whatever it is, above her ankles in dirt, and alone, quite alone! what could she mean by it? It seems to me to show an abominable sort of conceited independence…” But Jane’s beau Bingley’s answer is to swoon for. He says, “It shows an affection for her sister that is very pleasing”. Filial feelings are attractive.
Those that are not nice to their family, always complaining of or laughing at their family’s foibles, are not very attractive characters. Such characters also populate the Austen Six. Mansfield Park’s Nasty Aunt Norris is quick to criticize her sister Mrs Price and to belittle her niece. Northanger Abbey’s New-Best-Friend-Isabella Thorpe says to Genuine Girl Catherine Moreland, “You will be so infinitely dearer to me, my Catherine, than either Anne or Maria (her sisters): I feel that I shall be so much more attached to my dear Moreland’s family than to my own”. This should ring alarm bells. And does! Isabella is proved to be a woman of wonderful words and slippery actions. Be warned slagging off your family is unattractive while showing care and respect raises you in others’ estimation.
And what is the relevance of the accompanying photo? A neighbour, who I have never met, but who lives a block away, decided to make his own Santa statement for his five children. He bought an old ute, painted it red, bought plastic wrap for his presents and stuffed a Santa suit. So many in our neighbourhood have been ready to help Santa on his way and all ages have enjoyed the broken down ute in this semi busy road. He did it for his kids and the whole community have enjoyed it.