On the 10th Day ’til Christmas my blogger gave to me
A Jane Austen Birthday Wish!
For those of you who don’t know, today is Jane Austen’s birthday. If she was alive today, she would be 237 years old. I know it’s not a Christmas-y movie, but what kind of Austenite would I be if I completely ignored the fact that it is her birthday on my blog?
Jane Austen was an amazing woman who faced all kinds of adversary. Her father was a minister, and while well off to begin with, they ended up losing most of their money living in poverty. She fell in love with a high class man, and wanted to marry him; but his family intervened and sent him away. She was given another opportunity to marry a wealthy man that would have saved her and her family from destitution, but she couldn’t marry him. She continued to wait for her true love; although he never walked back into her life. Her first book she ever wrote, Northanger Abbey (then called Lady Susan) was published post-mortem. Her second novel and the most famous, Pride and Prejudice, was turned down several times before being published. In fact, it was published after she wrote her third novel, Sense and Sensibility.
Austen wrote not only great stories that have stood the test of time, but wrote about real issues and her more radical thoughts/philosophies, that wouldn’t be as easily accepted if spoken in person. In Northanger Abbey, we are all delighted as the main character is someone we can easily connect to. We all feel like Catherine at times in our lives, hoping that we will have an adventure and meet a dashing hero.
This idea of a girl wanting the life of a novel, and ending up living one is later used and recycled in films such as Romancing the Stone. Austen also pokes fun at all the social graces and little customs one must abide by, even though they are silly. It is a satire on societal rules and the gothic novel itself. However, it is a great book and one of Austen’s favorites.
Pride and Prejudice has so many things that are amazing to it. First of all parts of it are taken from her own life-a middle class poverty line woman falling for a high class man. Unfortunately she didn’t get the same ending. But Pride and Prejudice has such wit and wonderful lines; there is a reason why it is referenced in everything, has had a ton of movies and TV shows, spinoffs, vlogs, blogs, etc. I love it because the characters are so real. Elizabeth and Darcy are everywhere in the world. I’m a Darcy myself; every time I read it I always feel for him. But more on our shared traits later. I’m also an Elizabeth, they way she treats Darcy and others, when reading that its like looking into a mirror.
Emma, well I already stated that she and I have a lot alike. Sister’s amor hating you, a guy who won’t stop following you around. In my case 3), a friend who has a trifecta of boys rejecting her, deciding to become a spinster, and has meddled in friend’s love lives…need I go on? There are probably many of you out there who have had similar experiences. Not only that, but Jane Austen was able to share her own ideas of spinsterhood and how being a spinster who could care for one self (like Jane was able to in her writing) was nothing to look down on or pity. Austen said she was going to make a character that only she would love, but Emma has become beloved by all. Just like her modern counterpart, Cher from Clueless, there is something about that girl that is just lovable.
Mansfield Park, while it isn’t my favorite is still a great read. We see a woman, although she is meek and timid through most of the novel, isn’t afraid to say no to a “a good thing”. *Spoiler Alert stop reading now if you haven’t read the book* When Henry Crawford asks her to marry him, even though he is rich and could save her family from destitution, she says no. She holds out for her number one, even when threatened to be kicked out of the Bertram house. Very Austonian there. She even continues to be kind and nice to all around her, even though they constantly use and abuse her. She is a true heroine, very Uncle Tom, never turning to hate or anger.
I know I could never do that; Aunt Norris would have been punched in the eye already.
But Fanny continues to be good, and when everyone else’s lives fall apart; she is there to help all pick up the pieces. The whole guy being blinded by the wrong girl, is also very real, I’ve had two friends like that.
Sense and Sensibility, deals with the line between expression. I liked how there is the question of whether too much of either is bad and how much does one need? We have Marianne full of sensibilities, wearing her heart on her sleeve; but we see this gets her into trouble as she expresses too much, before anything is promised to her.
Elinor, expresses nothing, being purely intellectual and sensible; but this causes her to almost lose the man she loves.
While both sisters are the best of friends; their extremes cause the other to never fully know their sister. Marianne can never see what Elinor is feeling and makes all these assumptions about a “frozen” heart. Elinor on the other hand, never imagines that Marianne has any sense as she assumes she is solely governed by feelings. I liked how the sisters were never privy to each others complete secrets as I feel this is realistic. I can see myself and my sister in these.
Persuasion, is one of the saddest novels that Austen wrote, because even though it ends happily it was pure wish fulfillment. *Spoiler Alert stop reading now if you haven’t read the book* Anne is persuaded by her friend to not marry her love. He ends up leaving but returns, and after a series of misunderstandings the two are reunited. Austen always hoped that her love would return just like Captain Wentworth, but he never did.
She also uses a strong irony in this as Anne was rich when she turned down poor Wentworth, but when he returns Anne is poor and Wentworth rich. I simply love this book because it seems so real, how the characters react and treat each other are the emotions they actually would. Austen also does a great line about women being portrayed as a “femme fatale” so often as men are the writers of these novels; therefore the view is biased. Great book to check out.
Austen lived only 42 years, but changed the history of the novel with her great works. She has changed my life and I hope you give her a chance to influence yours. Happy Birthday Jane!
Now to tie this into Christmas:
“The very first day that [James] Morland came to us last Christmas–the very first moment I beheld him–my heart was irrecoverably gone.”
-Northanger Abbey, pg 142
“I sincerely hope your Christmas in Hertfordshire may abound in the gaieties which the season generally brings…”
-Pride and Prejudice, pg 122
“I remember last Christmas…he danced from eight o’clock to four, without once sitting down.”
Sense and Sensibility, pg 30
“If they were at home to grace the ball, a ball you would have this very Christmas.”
-Mansfield Park, pg 262
“At Christmas every body invites their friends and thinks little of even the worst weather.”
-Emma, pg 97
“On one side was a table occupied by chattering girls, cutting up silk and gold paper; and on the other were tressels and trays, bending under the weight of brawn and cold pies, where riotous boys were holding high revel; the whole completed by a roaring Christmas fire…”
Persuasion, pg 80
So there you go! Merry Christmas!
To start the 12 Posts of Christmas from the beginning, go to On the 12th Day ’til Christmas: The 12 Men of Christmas (2009)
For the previous post, go to On the 11th Day ’til Christmas: The Santa Clause (1994)
For another Northanger Abbey post, go to Mr. Tilney’s Dating Tips
For more Pride & Prejudice, go to On the 12th Day ‘Til Christmas: The 12 Men of Christmas (2009)
For another Sense & Sensibility post, go to Let’s Hear It For the Boys
For more on Emma, go to By George He’s Perfect!
For more on Mansfield Park, go to Part IX: Adventures in Movie Lines
For another Persuasion post go to A Fredrick Wentworth Sighting