The seams of Nasty-Aunt Norris and Optimistic-Jane Bennet

English: Henry Austen (1771-1850), brother of ...

English: Henry Austen (1771-1850), brother of Jane Austen ? However, see David Cecil : A Portrait of Jane Austen, where it shows as James, not Henry Austen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What  is remarkable about the Austen family is that they could maintain such good relationships throughout their life despite the disparity in income and lifestyle, achievements and abilities. The naval officers, Charles and Frank were often away for years at a time. Keeping in touch must have been a priority. There is also Henry’s bankruptcy which must have caused friction as various brothers lost money. And if this wasn’t enough, James and Henry were rivals for their cousin, the sophisticated Eliza! It might just be that Jane Austen changed the genders with her love trysts in Mansfield Park and Persuasion. She must have seen first hand the emotionally charged atmosphere when two brothers compete for the one woman.

The Austen siblings must have been guided by a core set of principles that their parents passed down, based on the experiences of their families in generations past, their own personal experiences and the classical education steeped in the Greek philosophers that Mr Austen provided his children, such principles promoted family and friendship. Honesty, integrity and thinking of others permeate the Austen Six just as much as the smell of lavender and the sight of a muslin frock. It is not explicit but it is implicit; it is there in the seams of Nasty-Aunt Norris and Optimistic-Jane Bennet; it is there in the struggles of Nauseating-Nice Fanny and the humbling of our Spontaneous-and-Sentimental-Marianne. And in reading and listening to these beautiful novels we can glean an understanding of how to achieve a happy life.

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