Category Archives: Feminism

What can a character, even a minor character, say about an author’s views?

Mrs Crofts, a minor character in Persuasion, says much about Jane Austen‘s views on equality. Unencumbered by children, she travels the world with her husband.

The Crofts show the way to an equal and fulfilling relationship even in a time of hypocrisy. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Feminism

Did Austen espouse feminist values?

Now that Now that Jane Austen has her place on the British bank note we can ask: did she espouse feminist values? Previously I had assumed not. Yet,  it is an interesting universal truth if you like,  once you start looking for something you do invariably find it. Such was the case when reading and re reading the Austen Six. Many examples were found. One example of Austen’s remarkably modern critique of the power structures of the world in which the Austen Six is set is in Persuasion. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Feminism

Why is Catherine Middleton respected?

Kate, the Dutchess of Cambridge, on Buckingham...

Kate, the Dutchess of Cambridge, on Buckingham Palace balcony after her wedding to Prince William. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jane Austen seemed to like to make the self important fall and the ordinary and unimportant shine. The Very-Very-Important-and-Vain-Sir Walter Elliot, in Persuasion, believes in consequence. To be important, to be special, is to him the most important concern of life. To be honest and to pay one’s debts does not really figure. Who can forget Austen’s opening lines:

Sir Walter Elliot, of Kellynch Hall, in Somersetshire, was a man who, for his own amusement, never took up any book but the Baronetage; there he found occupation for an idle hour, and consolation in a distressed one; there his faculties were roused into admiration and respect, ……..

“Heir presumptive, William Walter Elliot, Esq., great grandson of the second Sir Walter.” Vanity was the beginning and the end of Sir Walter Elliot’s character; vanity of person and of situation.

He is in direct contrast to his youngest daughter, Virtuous but Undervalued Anne. She realises her own insignificance and finds pleasure in friends and social responsibilities rather than her own consequence. She treats all others with respect. As she describes herself, “she is no card player”. She feels compassion for those less wealthy and does not reject friends just because they are down on their luck. She has her priorities right.

Maybe this is why Catherine Middleton is so popular – she also seems to have her priorities right? Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Feminism

What do Fanny and Julia have in common?

Once upon a time in a little land called Australia, ok it was a big land but a small population, there was a female politician called Julia. She had been born from immigrants who had seen education as the key to advancement and this she did. She advanced in spades until one day she entered Parliament. She worked hard, got on well with others and negotiated through such hostile environments that she was accepted and became very important – so important that she played second fiddle to the very important white males who were the leaders. And then one day, when things weren’t going so well amongst the important white males she thought she may as well be the leader. Naturally, as happens in quaint little democracies, there were loud howls of protest. But she put her head down, did what lots of women do, cleaned up the mess, and got on with business. Continue reading

6 Comments

Filed under Feminism

Jane and the Prince Regent

Prince Regent, Future George IV / Prince régen...

Prince Regent, Future George IV / Prince régent, futur George IV (Photo credit: BiblioArchives / LibraryArchives)

An interesting story about Jane, highlighting her modern credentials, is her diplomatic wrangling of dedicating Emma to the Prince Regent. Apparently he had enjoyed the previous Austen books, had copies in his homes and was happy for Jane to dedicate her next novel to him. Jane could not politely refuse to dedicate her book to the Prince Regent when it was suggested. But she was unequivocal Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Feminism

Did Jane Austen condone unequal marriage arrangements?

Marriage

Marriage (Photo credit: Lel4nd)

In the Austen Six, Jane Austen parodies mercilessly some pretty appalling marriages; like the comic characters, there are the comic couplings. In poking fun at those in ridiculous relationships she is also sending up the mores of the time that made being married prestigious and spinsterhood piteous.  As a single woman she must have enjoyed exposing the holes in the trappings of married respectability. Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under Feminism

Jane and the ‘f’ word

English: One of the symbols of German Women's ...

English: One of the symbols of German Women’s movement (from the 1970s) Deutsch: Ein Logo der deutschen Frauenbewegung (aus den 70er Jahren) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is timely with the passing of International Women’s Day for another year that we consider Jane and the f word: can we use feminism in regard to Austen?  As a woman who grew up in the seventies and seemed to inhale feminist values, I never thought of Jane Austen as someone who help feminist values. Emily or Charlotte Bronte – yes. Mary Wollstonecraft -yes.  Her daughter Mary Shelley– yes. But Austen no. Can we use the f word when we are talking about the Austen Six? Previously I had assumed that my search for feminism would be fruitless; that somehow Austen is about old fashioned values and archaic ways that are an anathema to modern women and feminism. It must have been the fairytale weddings at the end of the books that made me hesitant. And for very good reason; women today want to be more than just the woman who gets married at the end of the novel; they want to be more than someone’s mother, wife or daughter. But when I obsessively re-read and search for the feminism in Austen to my surprise I do find it. What is good news for Austen fans is that if you look deeply into the Austen Six there is ample evidence that Austen wanted women to be equal; she was disdainful about the sexist double standards in her society and that the heroines that she created were indeed feisty and independent women.

What sort of women do we want our girls to become? Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Feminism