Virtuous and Undervalued Anne Elliot does regret her family’s lack of feeling when she is to marry Captain Wentworth. She had “the consciousness of having no relations to bestow on him which a man of sense could value.” An extended family that is supportive and fun is an attractive part of any partner’s dowry:
“The disproportion in their fortune was nothing; it did not give her a moment’s regret; but to have no family to receive and estimate him properly; nothing of respectability, of harmony, of good-will to offer in return for all the worth and all the prompt welcome which met her in his brothers and sisters, was a source of as lively pain as her mind could be well sensible of, under circumstances of otherwise strong felicity”. Continue reading
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 Continue reading
CassandraAusten-FannyKnight (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Jane was close to her siblings and her siblings’ children. Her first nieces, Fanny and Anna, held a special place. Fanny was “almost another sister”.
Jane Austen took being an aunt seriously. When writing to a younger niece Caroline, in her later life she says, Continue reading
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 Continue reading
I often feel for poor Harriet in Emma. Without family, or the knowledge of who her family were, she was left adrift, especially painful in the 18th Century when family connections conferred status and security. Harriet is Emma’s new friend; Emma has discovered Harriet once her old friend, Miss Taylor, now Mrs Weston, originally her governess, then her mentor and friend, has married. Initially Egotistical-Emma, who needs a new project, Continue reading
Philosophers, the world over, from east to west, from radical to traditional, dwell on this question. Obviously one’s childhood has an effect. Children from happy and stimulating homes do well in life. But what about children who have to struggle? Can this also be a motivator? A child can have all the advantages and fail. How many children from extremely successful parents lose their way? And why do men like Bill Clinton, or Barak Obama, men from some-what struggling single parent families, rise to be Americans presidents? Continue reading
Jane did live 200 years ago. She did write from a domestic point of view but within this she has much to say that can be generalised to us in the modern world. The interest in Jane Austen is now phenomenal for very good reason as she had much to say about children, family, romance and marriage, feminism or the woman’s question, money, resilience and living the everyday life.