April and Austen

April and Austen

April is the month of LOVE… And, as the world opens – at least the Midwest does – it feels aptly named.

As I was thinking about the subject for something entirely different, I started to ponder the many different faces of love – affection, friendship, sibling love, parental love, all the varying familial love, romantic love, sacrificial love, God love.

I also thought about what makes a good life? Or, in keeping with what we discuss here, a good story? And I concluded that in either, lived or experienced on the page, it’s a story of depth, richness and fullness – a multi-faceted reflection of love.

And – as we all know or we wouldn’t ADORE her – Jane Austen gives us that. She doesn’t give us simple romantic stories. Yes, Boy does meet Girl, something bad does happen (Mr. Darcy calls Lizzy “tolerable”), hurdles must be leaped, and eventually, for those worthy, all does end happily…

But let’s look a little closer…

Look at Mrs. Jennings in Sense & Sensibility, generally clueless, but a woman who wants the best for Marianne and seeks to help her in any way possible. And when Marianne is sobbing in heartbreak, she hopes to stopper the tears by tempting Marianne “to eat every delicacy in the house.” That’s love.

Look at Mr. Knightley, from Emma, who puts Emma’s character development above his own interests when he “talks” with her after the Box Hill picnic. Colonel Brandon and his love for Marianne in S&S might come to mind at this moment as well. Both these men love these women, but are willing to put that aside for their beloved’s best, whatever that may entail.

“This is not pleasant to you, Emma – and it is very far from pleasant to me; but I must, I will, — I will tell you truths while I can, satisfied with proving myself your friend by very faithful counsel, and trusting that you will some time or other do me greater justice than you can do now.”

Look at Persuasion’s Anne Eliot who stays with her querulous sister Mary and quiets her tongue over and over when her insipid and vain family members, primarily sister Elizabeth and father Sir Walter, open their mouths to spout spoiled nonsense – constantly.

“Then I take it for granted,” observed Sir Walter, “that his face is about as orange as the cuffs and capes of my livery.”

UnknownAnd page in and page out, we can look at Marianne and Elinor (S&S) and Elizabeth and Jane (P&P, of course) – sisters who may disagree or even argue (okay, Lizzy & Jane never argue) – but who ALWAYS show up for one another. Sibling love at its best!

These are just a few treats I adore within Austen. There are so many more, too numerous name, because she frames every aspect of her stories around them – around differing aspects of love.

Please share with me some of your favorite scenes. I believe these constitute some of her most delightful moments – deliciously depicted; intricately woven and so compelling that they draw us back to her again and again.

Thanks for visiting and Happy April!

10 Responses to April and Austen

  1. Thanks for reminding us to savor the other forms of love Austen shows in her books. I’ve always loved Elinor and Marianne’s relationship and Knightley’s friendship with Emma. It’s really noble of him to put her good and eventual happiness over how he must feel at the time. Happy April!

  2. My favourite scene is Wentworth’s love letter to Anne and her reaction to reading it. That counts as one of the most romantic letter that I have ever read.

  3. Great post, Katherine. It’s the “little” things about Austen that appeal to me about Austen. I always think of Anne Elliot’s friendship with Mrs .Smith.

  4. When Fanny’s brother brings her the cross pendant. Or when Captain Wentworth places Anne upon the carriage after she’s injured herself. Or when Elizabeth rescues poor Georgiana from Bingley’s gossiping sisters during their dinner at Pemberley. Or when Emma apologizes to the sweet Miss Bates after humiliating her. Or when Colonel Brandon provides a living for Edward Ferrars. Or when sweet Catherine’s apologies when she finds herself whisked away by the annoying John Thorpe and inadvertently treats them rudely. Or when Elizabeth squashes her pride to see her dear friend Charlotte…. And okay. I’ll stop. lol! You’re right. There is definitely such a wonderful overall theme of goodness and love that runs through Jane Austen’s stories. 🙂

  5. I didn’t know April was the month of love! How apt! I love the Knightley quote above. I think he is such an underrated hero. He may not be as dashing as Wentworth or Darcy, but I’ve always loved him. Maybe it’s because Emma was my first Austen novel; I don’t know.

  6. It may be a cliché but Darcy, in rescuing Lydia, certainly humbles himself and shows a true love, not wanting credit for it in the fear that Elizabeth might accept him out of gratitude…is one of my favorite parts of P&P. The Tale of Two Cities also comes to mind in that the greatest love is that one lays down one’s life for another.

    • Sheila, Two wonderful examples. Exactly what I’m talking about — honestly those moments and iterations of love, to me, are often more compelling than the “love story” played out on center stage.

  7. One of my favs is from the 2006 P&P movie where Jane and Lizzy are talking in their room. Something like “But Lizzy, I would wish…I would so much like to marry for love….” “And so you shall, only take care to fall in love with a man of good fortune…” “And You?” “I am determined, nothing but the very deepest love will induce me into matrimony…” Now, what could be better than that? ~Jen Red~

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