Tag Archives: Austen
The seams of Nasty-Aunt Norris and Optimistic-Jane Bennet
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
Filed under Family
An aunt is a ‘person of consequence’
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
Filed under Family, Uncategorized
What about Cassandra’s first and only love?
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
Filed under Romance and Marriage
Beware the seemingly perfect person
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
Filed under Romance and Marriage
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
Filed under Feminism
Is sitting at our desks good for us?
Being outside, walking or strolling and being in the elements lifts our spirits. I remember a book once that started out with the premise that GOD actually was an acronym and stood for the Great Out Doors! It made sense; the great outdoors – sunshine, wind, the sky – can bring about a significant increase in wellbeing. Could it just be possible that the reason some of us struggle to find happiness in the modern age is because many of us work at desks? In our world we have so many other things available to make us feel good when we are down but perhaps the simplest and the easiest is Continue reading
Filed under Living the Simple Life
The most masterfully crafted miser in the Austen universe is of course Nasty-Aunt Norris from Mansfield Park. Not only does she love to save her own money but she is happy to spend that of others. And such miserly attributes were also accompanied with a capacity for bossiness that made her see herself as the director of most things. “Her love of money was equal to her love of directing”. Mrs Norris didn’t start out this way, but once she had married on a lower income than she had been used to, she had to economise and once having “begun as a matter of prudence, soon grew into a matter of choice”. I shudder when I read of Mrs Norris as I know too well the satisfaction of having spent less than anticipated and the addictive qualities of wanting every purchase to be a bargain.
Nasty-Aunt Norris likes to involve herself in everything. It is her idea that the little Fanny Price should come and live with her rich relatives. And she was to congratulate herself for her benevolence at no cost to herself. Continue reading
Filed under Money
Jane and the ‘f’ word
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