What does the beast from Beauty and the Beast and Mr Darcy have in common? Well they are both unreconstructed males until love brings them to self knowledge and a better version of themselves. What I like about Austen’s prose though is that she is often even handed in doling out the imperfection in her Continue reading
It centers on one couple: Rabih and Kirsten. It is very modern in that the nuclear couple reign supreme; the friends and family only get a passing glance. But it is a very poignant look at the couple in modern life. It feels like an everyman couple; a couple we can all relate to. And its premise, that the proof of love begins when the romance fades is so apt. Rabih and Kirsten are like minor characters in an Austen novel, they are Mr and Ms Bennett, Mr and Mrs Palmer or Mr and Mrs Musgrove in the Austen Six. Only in a post modern novel can they take their place centre-stage. But that is the beauty
of the modern; the ordinary Continue reading
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
On this St Valentine’s Eve let’s ponder on what sort of a partner Austen might recommend. Are we all looking for the perfect partner? And is there a danger in this? It is interesting that in the Austen Six the seemingly perfect partner is often introduced early but inevitably found wanting.
In Emma, Jane seems to be suggesting that the seemingly perfect partner has issues. Once Frank Churchill has been found to have been playing a duplicitous game Emma says:
“It has sunk him, I cannot say how it has sunk him in my opinion. So unlike what a man should be! – None of that upright integrity, that strict adherence to truth and principle, that disdain of trick and littleness, which a man should display in every transaction of his life.”
It is as if Jane Austen is telling us exactly what we want in a partner, or at the very least, should want: Integrity and honour rather than succumbing to the romantic idealism often inside the Hallmark card.
English: Silhouette of Cassandra Austen (1773-1845), sister of Jane Austen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
More successful than Jane’s first love but with a tragic outcome was Jane’s sister Cassandra‘s love affair with Tom Fowle. Tom was a friend of the family having spent time as a pupil in Mr George Austen’s school. In some ways these young adults grew up together. The school was part of the house and George Austen’s pupils joined the Austen family, both the brothers and the sisters in family life.
Cassandra became engaged to Tom in 1792, but there was no money and so rather than a marriage, Continue reading
sally hawkins and rupert penry-jones filming persuasion (Photo credit: Owen Benson Visuals)
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. Continue reading
English: Persuasion, ch 21: Anne Elliot read a letter from Mr Elliot. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Jane Austen warns us to suspect the perfect person. Mr Elliot, from Persuasion, the heir to Kellynch estate is such a perfect person. He says and does all that is expected of him. He doesn’t let himself behave like an embarrassing git. In society, he conducts himself in an exemplary manner, tuned in to all the wishes of all around him and he plays court to those he wishes to infiltrate very successfully. Continue reading
Wedding (Photo credit: teresachin2007)
Upon reading Hannah Seligson’s, The Me, Me, Me Wedding, and learning of the export of the western Bridezilla phenomenon to other cultures, I am reminded of the last words of Austen’s Emma:
The wedding was very much like other weddings, where the parties have no taste for finery or parade; and Mrs. Elton, from the particulars detailed by her husband, thought it all extremely shabby, and very inferior to her own.—”Very little white satin, very few lace veils; a most pitiful business!— Continue reading
English: Thomas Langlois Lefroy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In Jane’s own life there is ample evidence that women can live a fulfilled and contented life without getting married. As we have seen Jane writes in Emma, “it is poverty only which makes celibacy contemptible.” As far as we can tell, Jane Austen, herself, lived a contented single life enjoying her family, her friends, her writing and a country lifestyle. Sure she might have liked to marry one of the loves of her life but it was not to be. Like today, a variety of reasons can conspire to leave a woman single. However, Jane certainly knew what love was and her first love was indeed a wonderful experience both in the highs but also in the lows. Her first love was indeed heart wrenching and disappointing like many first loves can be.
Jane certainly fell in love. First, when Jane was twenty-one, there was Tom Lefroy, who she describes in a letter to Cassandra as her ‘Irish friend’. He was a young Irishman visiting a relative who happened to be an older friend of Jane’s, Madame Lefroy. An attachment undoubtedly occurred. How much time Jane actually spent with Tom is open to conjecture. Continue reading