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<---More Recent 122. 'Unhappy' painting 121. Chapter 29 in P&P 120. London in books 119. Quick Questions Earlier Answers-->

Name:Heather Eddie
Question 123 (Re: Sense and Sensibility) I need help with a thesis statement regarding inheritance and money. Thanks a bunch!
Reply Dear Heather,

‘Because I'm worth it’ would be a too-facetious title for an academic work, perhaps, but it provides a nicely ambiguous statement of one’s fortune(s), which may be defined by money or a sense of self-worth, according to oneself, but society itself is constantly re-casting this option into assessment through inherited wealth, particularly important in my time as women didn’t have ‘jobs’, on the whole, above servant level. Research might focus attention on the fact that women were assigned a social identity and perhaps might be assessed entirely in terms of their personal fortunes; identified with them, indeed. The scholar who has done most work on this is Edward Copeland, and you may wish to consult the Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen, which he co-edited, and his book on the Woman’s Magazine in which he establishes this identification; women were advertised in terms of their marital appeal and hence prospects with reference to their wealth. In Sense and Sensibility the reference to a Miss Morton, who may marry or be married to either Edward or Robert Ferrars according to taste, but not hers, shows the lady powerful through wealth as a pawn in the cash nexus, just as the unpleasant heiress Sophia Grey marries herself into a terrible marriage with a John Willoughby entirely preoccupied with money worries. The high-minded Dashwood sisters improve their positions rather against the odds, disinherited thanks to the appeal of a toddler to an older man despite their care for him, but, in the case of Elinor, self-respecting and with a modest but firm sense of self-worth, transcending money, entailing ethics, and the self-control which sensibility contemns. How to assess her romantic sister Marianne in the light of all this?

With best wishes

Jane Austen

February 1, 2007 16:30:48 (GMT Time)

Name:Marlene                     Top
Question 122 I have an old large portait or painting entitled Unhappy. Picture of woman & small girl standing in front of piano Has J.A.Austen & lower right. Would you have any information on this. Thanks for any help
Reply Dear Marlene,

I suppose the negative is positive here in that history or a little biography is waiting to be made. This seems to be a reference to an unpretentious firm working in Illinois (?)   As far as my family is concerned American relatives (probably thought of as just relatives in America) don’t really turn up in the ambit of my biography until roughly the 'GI bride' stage.  It would be nice to think that as with that young John Keats my contemporary, I had kith and kin in the US (his letters to his brother there are famous). Unlike Keats’s, my family was one of social pretension, keen to emphasise connections to the landed folk of England, and they were also of course Anglicans, so perhaps we buried all reference to Remittance Men, black sheep with blue blood etc. Again Austen is a fairly common name, e.g.' Judith Austen:  Studied at Pratt Institute (BFA), Bank Street College (Masters), Boston Univ. (MFA, Art).  Exhibits are numerous in Boston area (10 1-woman shows and several group shows).  Teaches art in schools.  Studio located in Newton, Ma.
"Boston Cows" d.1982, oil on canvas, 28 x 50, SLR Passed (!)
I imagine there must be American Austens who are relatives.  Austens who lived after me in various places are given e.g. at the end of the Claire Tomalin biography, if you are interested, but of course this doesn’t exhaust the possibility of more ‘Austen connections’. However, I’m sorry not to have been more helpful.  

With best wishes

Jane Austen  

December 23, 2006 01:54:30 (GMT Time)

Name:callum foley                     Top
Question 121 I have an essay question for my A-level on Pride and Prejudice but I'm a little stuck.
How does Austen tell the story in chapter 29? Struggling to find latinate vocabulary and irony etc.
Reply Dear Callum,

One of the ironies is that Collins, entertaining Elizabeth, whom only Charlotte ’s pleading has brought into Kent in the first place, thinks she will be horribly impressed by his living, and living conditions, and by Lady Catherine, and her house Rosings, in all its pomp and splendour. The idea works for Sir William Lucas, titled nonentity, and his daughter Maria, but the impression of Elizabeth is, like her impression of life at Hunsford, Mr Collins’ parsonage (residence) highly unfavourable, as Lady Catherine inquires into Elizabeth’s (and her friend Charlotte’s concerns ‘familiarly and minutely’ [formal diction of the narrator]), so what Mr Collins thinks is perfection Elizabeth thinks is dictatorial insolence.

One irony is that Lady Catherine is not exactly wrong: the Bennet daughters have been brought up in an eccentric and even inadequate way, thanks to Mr Bennet’s idiosyncrasies and Mrs Bennet’s intellectual limitations and understandable hysteria, and the fruit of it will be Lydia ’s headlong elopement with Mr Wickham. One assumption on which our interpretation is based is a close relation between the teller or narrator and Elizabeth ’s awareness or consciousness. I write more formally than you do now, but keep things light by conveying meaning through actual speech, or by summarising in terms which convey speech, i.e. that of Lady Catherine, e.g. the paragraph beginning ‘When the ladies returned to the drawing-room . . .’ reporting this as if neutrally but conveying the sense of a truly awful character. In a supreme irony, Elizabeth finds Lady C. slightly resembles (physically) the man she will ultimately marry but initially turn down, her nephew Mr Darcy.

Now continue the work on this yourself, Callum, it’s not as hard as it might seem, and also acknowledge our site as you would a book if you find the material helpful.

With best wishes,

Jane Austen.

December 8, 2006 16:52:07 (GMT Time)

Name:Silvia Giannitrapani                     Top
Question 120 I really would like to know about how London is represented in Jane Austen's books in general
Reply London is under scrutiny in Sense and Sensibility, but it is the fashionable West End which is looked at as the centre of a quest for ‘money and greatness’, as Mrs Jennings, the fat, vulgar lady who tries to look after the heroines Marianne and Elinor, has it. Mind you, she seems to enjoy it, as a merry widow with a house in town who loves matchmaking. But the most painful scenes take place there, as Marianne’s imprudent approach to her ‘lover’ John Willoughby leads to her summary rejection (he is marrying himself off to a rich, unpleasant Miss Grey), and Elinor is badly treated by the insensitive Mrs Ferrars at the soiree in her fashionable drawing-room, ambitious as she is for her unsatisfactory son, the unambitious Edward, to marry ‘Lord Morton’s daughter’. London is the world of fashion and ambition which thwarts natural affections, even if Mrs Jennings has no trouble enjoying herself there. The country parsonage and the Colonel’s estate at Delaford are the heavenly termini ad quem here.  

In P&P Mr Bennet, intelligent and ironic, hates London and loves books and the countryside. He is a flawed character, but this emphasis is not felt to be wrong. Caroline Bingley, a ‘bitchy’ character, presses the claims of the fashionable world, but country estates are better places to be, and even Bingley, who can’t decide which is better, opts for one, so he and Jane can be near Darcy and Elizabeth. London spreads the false values associated with the rich and grand, turns Sir William Lucas’s head with its intimidating Court-based world, but also contains the sensible and intelligent Gardiners, Jane and Elizabeth’s Aunt and Uncle, in Cheapside , but their actual address, ‘ Gracechurch Street ’ bespeaks their good values. But the villains Wickham and Mrs Younge are found in London , a good place to hide oneself, or for shady purposes.  

This theme of London as a place of doubtful ‘values’ is much more visible and even structural in Mansfield Park, in which the serious heroine Fanny Price thinks it ‘at war with all respectable attachments’. Worldly-minded Mary Crawford and her friends like ‘Lady Stornaway’ exemplify the habit of judging people in terms of their rank or riches. Edmund, the clergyman hero secretly loved by Fanny, must learn that the ‘London Assurance’ of the Crawfords entails the inference that Mary is not a suitable marriage partner and Fanny should not marry Henry. Also, Maria married Rushworth for the sake of blessings like a ‘house in town’ ( London ), which is not a good reason to get married. However, I quite enjoyed a spot of retail therapy and theatre attendance myself when up in town with my temporarily rich brother Henry. London is something of a symbol in the novels, but it wasn’t being that it wasn’t all bad, apparently!  

With best wishes

Jane Austen.

November 23, 2006 21:26:18 (GMT Time)

Name:Sam (14)                     Top
Question 119 1.Does she have a nickname?
2. Did she set any goals for herself?What were they?
3.Any disadvantages?
4. Was she involved in any politics?
5.Who inspired Austen and how did this person inspire her?
6.Who was one of your closest friends and how did you know her.
7. How often did you play the piano?
8.Any jobs?
9.How did you become famous?
10.What are some of your accomplishments?
Reply 1. Unfortunately (?), Jane was a monosyllable and couldn't be shortened, My society was quite formal and a character in my novel Emma who refers to another as 'Jane' is thought to be over-familiar.
2.Probably to earn enough through writing to be independent of the rest of my family.
3. This is a bit 'sweated down'?!. Poverty, little formal education, not wealthy enough to enter the marriage market as a serious contender.
4. My brother was a Hampshire landowner, father an Oxford man and parson, mother came from an aristocratic line. But there are various political attitudes in my writings which don't square with simple traditionalism and conservatism. 
5. My father was highly literate and encouraging and also gave me the run of the library. Eighteenth-century novelists like Richardson and great writers like Samuel Johnson helped.
6. My elder sister Cassandra was close; among non-relatives a governess, Anne Sharpe, met on the Austen estate in Kent, a local lady called Mrs Lefroy; my niece, brother Edward's daughter, Fanny Austen-Knight. A suitor called Tom Lefroy.  
7. In theory, every day, but I sometimes used the practice time to write!
8. No, except as Maiden Aunt, helping to bring up others' children and also sometimes running the household, with my head full of joints of mutton and doses of rhubarb. And I wrote constantly.
9. With the publication of Sense and Sensibility in 1811 and Pride and Prejudice in 1813. Although I tried to keep things quiet at first..
10. Writing six great novels.
November 6, 2006 20:29:55 (GMT Time)