How could Charlotte Lucas, best friend to Lizzie Bennet choose such an odious partner? Surely this choice, the choice made by our pragmatic Charlotte for Clawing Mr Collins, has been gasped at through the centuries by countless readers of Pride and Prejudice.
Recall Charlotte says, “I am not romantic, you know. I never was. I only ask for a comfortable home”. Surely Jane Austen is making a comment on the choices that women must make in such an unfair and patriarchal world. Highlighting such limited and odious choices suggests Austen’s feminist credentials.
Emma, our spoilt princess, lives a quiet life with her father, her mother having died when she was but a young child. Her sister has married and moved to London. When Emma was twelve, she had become the mistress of the house. “The real evils indeed of Emma’s situation were the power of having rather too much her own way, and a disposition to think a little too well of herself.” And so a friend close by and malleable was naturally attractive, to our spoilt princess, socially superior but with time on her hands, adopts the attractive, pleasant and Malleable-Harriet. Continue reading
Signature of Jane Austen. Taken from her 1817 will. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Throughout Jane Austen’s life she developed close friendships with a number of women that survived her moving from Steventon in Hampshire, to Bath, Southampton and its surrounds, and then back to Hampshire to the little village of Chawton. These friendships endured despite quite an unsettled period in the middle of Jane’s life where she was in quite straightened circumstances. These friendships endured despite the fact that she held a very humble place in the society of her time; she was unmarried and poor. Both of these factors meant that no one would befriend her for an ulterior motive. Her friendships endured obviously because they must have embodied the principles that she so often wrote about.
It seems that Jane’s first significant friendship outside of her family was Continue reading
Wendy Squires in today’s The Saturday Age (Even pregnant women are only human 09/02/13) answers this question. In response to the Chrissie Swan controversy, (she got caught smoking while pregnant) she discusses the time so called friends, dumped on another friend for a minor misdemeanor rather than showing compassion and empathy. Intrinsic in Squire’s article is the belief that we all have flaws and should not judge others too harshly. Are you thinking of the proverb, those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones? So what does Austen show us about friendship? Positive friendships survive even when a change in circumstances might make them a bit more challenging. In the Austen Six a variety of characters, and they are all the heroes or heroines, show they value friendship. Virtuous-but-Undervalued-Anne Elliot shows us what friendship is. She craves not only a lover but a different lifestyle away from the suffocating superficiality of her family. She wants to be friends with people because of their qualities and character not because of their position in the world. It is not unusual to be at odds with one’s family’s values. In Bath, she meets up with an old school friend who has fallen on difficult times: Continue reading
Friendship (Photo credit: Iguanasan)
What made me who I am? I know my family, my culture and my temperament all played a part. But I need to acknowledge that my friends have influenced me. From my childhood and teenage friends to my adult friends they have helped to sculpt who I am today. They are the ones figuratively sitting around the kitchen table right now, encouraging me in this very venture; editing and advising and encouraging and reading. How rich is my life to have such individuals? Jane Austen had just such a coterie around her, consisting of friends and family who helped her and encouraged her to live out her dream. And I would suggest that that is why friendship figures as it does in her novels. Friendship can sometimes be missing in modern media but in the Austen Six, friendship is there and it does bring happiness. Alongside important lessons in love, are important lessons in friendship.
The need to have good friends is a philosophical principle that has come 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.