Why is it that when we really like someone we can hardly speak, let alone tell the target of our fantasies of our feelings? Yet this can be crucial. It is humbling to put yourself out there and it is one big risk. But courage is necessary and the results can be revolutionary. It seems that this message is reiterated many times in the Austen Six.
In Persuasion, Virtuous-but-Undervalued Anne knows she needs to show
Captain Wentworth that she loves him. She tries unsuccessfully at a concert,
but the Poisonly-Perfect-Mr Elliot, who has his own designs, thwarts her. Later
she sees Wentworth at the Musgroves. In a stroke of pure brilliance she
manipulates a conversation that he can overhear and says about women:
“All the privilege I claim for my own sex (it
is not a very enviable one, you need not covet it) is that of loving longest,
when existence or hope is gone.”
Wentworth listens in agitation, seizes the moment
and spontaneously writes the love letter that inevitably draws them together.
We need to have courage to
flag our interest. Jane Austen is again showing herself to be surprisingly