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