A wonderfully insightful piece on Austen’s heroines and whether they would measure up to what constituted an “ideal woman” in Regency England,
by Jenni Waugh of The Jane Austen Centre:
I recently replied to an email enquiry from a student who was looking for an opinion on the question “To what extent does Jane Austen present her heroines as ideal women within their social contexts?” My reply ended up being fairly lengthy and is below. Let me know what you think!
Personally, I’d say that very few, if any, of her heroines are presented as ideal women within their social contexts. They all have their own unique flaws.
Elizabeth Bennet is outspoken and opinionated; just think of her responses to Lady Catherine’s enquires about her age, and her dismissal of Mr Collins, and then later of Mr Darcy. Were Lizzy an ideal woman in society she would have accepted Collins in order to secure her family’s home as per her mother’s wishes, or Darcy when he asked her in order to secure an even better future for herself and her family.
It may be the third millennium, but not much has changed* since the days of getting laced into a corset so stiff that one could barely lean over, let alone breathe. It’s no wonder ladies had to carry around smelling salts, or “vinaigrettes,” as they were called in Jane Austen’s day. Those Mr. Darcy types may have been swoon-worthy, but it was likely more a lack of oxygen than romantic flutterings that caused ladies to faint.
It wasn’t only ladies who were wearing corsets or “stays.” The Prince Regent was a favorite target of cartoonists for trying to mask his size with a corset.
Today, we call these instruments of torture “shapewear.” Sounds friendly and appealing, doesn’t it? After all, who doesn’t want to have a shape?
The promise and the reality of shapewear, however, can be two very different things. If you’ve ever had a shapewear nightmare of your own, you will love Melissa McCarthy’s story. Click here to read more…
Now we know why people have been looking at us strangely.
Photo by Wonderlane
We’ve all read the books (or at least seen some of the movies). We’ve all fantasized about being magically transported to the world of Jane Austen and indulging ourselves in a whirlwind of assembly room balls, elegant gowns, and our very own Mr. Darcy. But would we really have what it takes to make that journey?