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.
This is from what is perhaps the greatest Austen adaptation of all, Sense and Sensibility, with screenplay by Emma Thompson (her book that includes the screenplay and her diaries is a must-read), direction by the brilliant Ang Lee, and stellar acting by Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, Alan Rickman, and many more.
May fortune smile upon you as it did upon Edward and Elinor.
In honor of Austen in (mostly) August, one lucky winner will win Emma Thompson’s Sense and Sensibility Screenplay and Diaries plus signed copies of Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict and Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict. Giveaway ends Sept. 10 at 11:59PM EST. Head over to The Book Rat to enter this giveaway.
Every year, Austen in August has an irresistible array of fun activities and an opportunity to connect with fellow book lovers, some of whom are longtime readers of Austen, some of whom have never read Austen and are curious to try. You can join read-along discussions of this year’s featured work, Sense and Sensibility, decide if Jane Austen’s world was really as attractive as you may have imagined, discuss your favorite film and TV adaptations, rank your most beloved and most hated Austen characters, participate in Twitter parties, enter giveaways, and much more.
And if you’ve ever wished your favorite Austen characters could say something like this:
then check out my guest post, Sense and Sensibility: Throwing Shade Edition.