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<---More Recent 133. Austen playing cards 132. Miss and Mrs Smith 131. Online resources on courtship 130. Did Jane marry? 129. Living relatives of Austen Earlier Answers-->

Name:Grace Darcy
Question 134 Can Jane Austen be seen as a feminist? I'd realy appreciate it if you could give me some advice on how to produce an essay based on this question.
Reply Dear Grace,

Yes, I think I know how you feel; this is something one could write about for ever. Just a few points or pointers must suffice (although other questions already answered have relevant material): the entail afflicting the Bennets in P&P specifically requires male ownership of Longbourn, the family house and grounds, so five daughters in a row means this has not been cut off, and a particularly horrible male will succeed to it (Mr Collins). Hence the family is under pressure to marry wealth, when their feelings and emotions don't necessarily impel them towards men who have this. I show a demeaning proposal from a Mr Collins who assumes Elizabeth must accept him for economic reasons as a fairly penniless female. Elizabeth has the strength of character to turn down not just him but also a rich Mr Darcy whom she assumes has ruined her sister Jane's happiness, but most women would have felt compelled to accept (her friend Charlotte feels compelled to accept the egregious Collins, although the marriage is loveless). Clearly Darcy, by contrast, has the intelligence to realise that Elizabeth's spirited refusal is a plus, not a minus, but one begins to wonder if there are all that many Darcys 'about'. In Sense and Sensibility Marianne and Elinor Dashwood are excellent but impoverished females whose poverty is deliberately contrasted with and caused by the indulgence of a spoilt little male 'heir' to virtually everything; their gender seems to bid fair to give them a difficult life, but all turns out fairly well. In Persuasion Mrs Croft pleads for ladies to be considered rational creatures in the spirit of Mary Wollstonecraft the feminist writer. In Emma the shortage of careers for women is shown as the excellent highly-trained Jane Fairfax may be ending her days poor and bullied as a humble governess, a teacher of sorts but still at servant level. Perhaps Emma herself needed college training or discipline. In Northanger Abbey the ingenuous heroine Catherine Morland is patronised. Everywhere you turn the plight of women is implied, but my approach was nuanced and gender is clearly always related to and involved with other social categories. My women are not necessarily put-upon saints merely because they are women. It's important to make this sort of thing clear in writing about all this, as my novels are subtle writings not crude polemic discourses. Good luck!

With best wishes,

Jane Austen

January 30, 2008 21:47:35 (GMT Time)

Name:Andrew Pearson                     Top
Question 133 I am hoping you can help me with a small problem I have. Each year my wife sets a small task for me to find a particular Christmas gift, this year she would like some Jane Austen playing cards or anything to do with herself, her novels or the films. And I was wondering if you have any idea if such an item exists, and if so where could I purchase them from. My wife is a great fan of Jane Austen and a collector of playing cards and I wouldn’t like to fail her as I haven’t failed as yet, so your help on this matter would be greatly appreciated. I have searched many web sites with no luck until I came across your email of which you could be my last chance.
Reply Dear Andrew,

It seems that there are playing cards involving my image, or at least a caricature version of it. This website sells sets of them. It also sells sets based on ‘women writers’ including my image amongst others including Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Virginia Woolf , Charlotte Brönte and Sylvia Plath. It is an American site, so you may need to make particular arrangements.

Although I did not tend to make my heroines avid card players, the existence of these items is not a huge surprise. The discovery, on another American website, of a Pride and Prejudice board game is a little more alarming. The aim of play is to conduct not only Elizabeth and her Darcy, and Jane and her Bingley to the church’s wedding bells, but likewise Charlotte Lucas and Mr Collins, and Lydia and Wyckham, all as quickly as possible. This doesn’t truly capture the spirit of the book - unless you identify strongly with Mrs Bennet - but it has a certain charm.

There is an even more remarkable item available through ‘e-bay’, specifically: here . Even had I owned my own set of tarot cards, which I certainly did not, I’d never have been able to predict my name being associated with packs of them, I’m sure. They amuse and alarm me in equal measure.

Hopefully you’ll now pass your Christmas task. Merry Christmas to you and your wife.

Best wishes,

Jane Austen.

November 24, 2007 03:00:29 (GMT Time)

Name:Brian Fraipont                     Top
Question 132 I need help in understanding how to contrast and compare the lessons learned from Anne Elliot and her friendship with Mrs. Smith and what Anne Elliot could have shared with Harriet Smith of Emma & Elizabeth Bennet of P&P regarding women, class mobility, & marriage?
Reply Dear Brianna,

Difficult: from “Anne Elliot and her friendship with Mrs Smith”: meaning mainly what she got from her friendship with Mrs Smith (?), i.e., it is said, a sense of that ‘elasticity of mind’ which enables her to combat depression, though ill, poor, and bereaved (we have seen Anne struggling with depression because she ‘can’t get what she wants’, apparently). Wentworth is what she wants and gets, and this ensures her somewhat paradoxical mobility thanks to Wentworth’s, with finally a possible baronetcy on the horizon. Anne had the higher rank but Sir Walter dissipated the family fortunes, roughly what happened to Mrs Smith; but her cure is also Wentworth as he will act to recover moneys from her (alas, West Indian) estate. That’s a start, but there seem to be a number of questions rolled into one, or not quite one; across a range of characters, novels and themes. Anne Elliot shared little with Harriet except that she was persuaded not to accept the suitor who initially pleased her by a ‘wise’ advisor of a higher class, with a slight effect of bullying (Emma and Lady Russell). Anne is a baronet’s daughter, Harriet is an illegitimate wench brought up at Mrs Goddard’s humble village school. Anne is intelligent and literary, Harriet is not. Both are rewarded with the men they love. Emma thought originally this wasn’t promotion for Harriet, but it was; Anne is not formally promoted (Wentworth ‘aspired’ to her hand but improved his position through naval war-faring), but her social lot is improved. Elizabeth Bennet also turned down her eventual husband, and again she was slightly deceived, mainly by Wickham, as to the sort of man he was. She too felt a little depressed as Darcy’s character improved thanks to accounts by the worshipping housekeeper and the sight of Pemberley, supposedly a joke. Fortunately the very fact that things were going to hell for the Bennets brought Darcy into play. Elizabeth was supposedly not socially elevated enough, especially according to Lady Catherine, but Darcy insisted on making a choice based on his sense of her talents and attractiveness. Formally, Elizabeth was ‘genteel’ (her father’s rank and small estate), but marriage opened the Bennets prospects tremendously. No other avenue than such a marriage would have done this. The professional ‘avenue’ open to intelligent ladies seems to be mainly governessing, a waste of Jane Fairfax’s talents and only doubtfully above servant level, putting pressure on them to marry, and perhaps to marry for money rather than love. Hope this provides a start with the thicket of queries and themes.

With best wishes

Jane Austen.

October 29, 2007 04:14:58 (GMT Time)

Name:Valentina Vergari                     Top
Question 131 I have thought that maybe you can suggest me any essay or article that i can find on the web,because living in Italy,is very difficult to find a good English library. I bought some books from amazon, but if you know any link where i can read any free articles it would be very interesing for me.thank you very much
Reply Dear Valentina,

Being an old-fashioned sort of lady I am not so very well up about this sort of thing; but here are a few addresses to start from. You may find interesting material in Persuasions, the journal of the Jane Austen Society of North America, much of which can be inspected on line. Here we are, then:
Good hunting!

With best wishes

Jane Austen.

October 10, 2007 02:56:55 (GMT Time)

Name:Phil Marke                     Top
Question 130 My partner suggested that Jane actually got married - can this be true - she says this a well concealed secret - I have my doubts - please enlighthen me.
Reply Dear Phil,

I never married. The closest shaves with matrimony came when I engaged in a dashing flirtation as a teenager with a young Tom Lefroy, marked out for money and greatness by his ambitious family. In old age he ‘admitted’ that he had reciprocated my love. I was also proposed to by a young landowner-to-be called Harris Bigg-Wither, an awkward young fellow I did not love—but he was heir to a Pemberley-like estate! I accepted him for a brief time, then changed my mind for the reasons just advanced. My children proved to be my books, and I preferred it that way. To bear ten or eleven children then die horribly after yet another pregnancy was something like the fate of too many unfortunate ladies–'poor animals', to use my own phrase!

With best wishes

Jane Austen

September 26, 2007 22:54:13 (GMT Time)

Name:Dinah Shannon                     Top
Question 129 Are there any living relatives of Jane Austen today?
Reply Dear Dinah,

Yes, there are, although of course through my siblings as I myself never married. One might briefly pause to reflect what may be implied from this. For example, my sister Cassandra, close genetically and generally was neither an author nor a literary intellectual. In that sense my closest affiliation was with my elder brother James, Oxford-educated, intellectual, and a poet of some distinction whose poems have recently been reissued. It can hardly be inferred that any modern descendents will have much in common with me, whatever a geneticist’s view of the matter. Informally, a recent television newsreader, Mark Austen or was it Austin (?) seemed to have something of the Austen countenance! That good actress Anna Chancellor who had the unenviable role of Caroline Bingley in the 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice claims kin, no doubt with complete justification. But I’m not quite clear as to through which branch we are connected. Claire Tomalin, my biographer, is a good source of information here. We read of Catherine, a daughter of Admiral Francis Austen, my brother, outraged by the destruction of my letters to him by her elder sister, going out to America to help one of her sons who had obviously settled there, and dying in California . There is more evidence of American descendents, as one of mine (through Charles) was a ‘GI bride’. Family members exist through the large families of my brothers Francis, Charles (both Admirals) and Edward, a landowner, who took the name of Knight. Charles was ‘our particular little brother’, but his descendents had more difficult lives than the others, and one ended up as a bricklayer who graduated to driving a bread van ‘because he liked horses’ (honourable pursuits, but perhaps surprisingly humble for the descendents of an Admiral). He had a son who became a salesman for Morris Motors. The son of one of Charles’s descendents emigrated to Argentina , and his daughter Margaret married a Melvin Greengrass of New York in 1945. As you will see from the family tree(s) produced at the end of Claire Tomalin’s biography of me, as reissued in 2000, many descendents must be scattered abroad, if with ever more tenuous gentic links.

With best wishes.

Jane Austen

July 10, 2007 20:30:41 (GMT Time)