Tag Archives: Jane Austen
This week we celebrate International Happiness Day. More learned commentators will be able to guide us on how to achieve happiness but does Austen have something to contribute? Not only does reading her six novels delight but within the subtext there are some lessons on happiness. Pride and Prejudice’s Mr Bennet is a case in point; he knows how to live contently despite a plethora of problems and a nightmare wife! Continue reading
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
Jane Austen has at times been accused of snobbery as she makes her clearly imperfect characters say snobby things. Emma is perhaps our best example. Egotistical-Emma likes the position she commands in society and she likes to be in control. When she finds out that her new best friend Harriet has begun a love affair with a local farmer, she is none too happy. 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.
On this day, Jane Austen‘s birthday, it is interesting to reflect upon Jane’s birth. She was born in the December cold of 1775, sixteenth of December in the little village of Steventon, in Hampshire in England. She was her mother’s seventh child and she was born at home, without a doctor but with the help of a sister-in-law. Perhaps surprisingly for us, and our assumptions of the past, and to the delight of today’s breast feeding adherents, she was Continue reading
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
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
Every age has its doctrines: capitalism, individualism, economic rationalism; and it is less uncomfortable to analyse those from the past with the help of hindsight, than those in the present. Spontaneous-and-Sentimental Marianne in Sense and Sensibility is an idealist. Remember she believed in truth and sincerity in all situations. She would not moderate her feelings whether they were pleasant or unpleasant. When she starts to fall in love with Willoughby Continue reading
John Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility is a masterfully crafted character. He is manipulated by his wife to be ungenerous towards his sisters. Despite a deathbed promise to his father to look after his sisters, he easily acquiesced to his wife’s wish to do little more than be neighbourly. Rather than be generous he chooses to be mean. To add insult to injury, John Dashwood Continue reading