Tag Archives: jane austen

Persistence and Patience: Jane Austen’s Persuasion

When I was seventeen, my parents gave me a set of four Jane Austen paperbacks in a little slipcover case for my birthday or Christmas, I forget which. Pride and PrejudiceSense and Sensibility, Emma, and Persuasion. I’d seen movie versions of the first three by then, but not of Persuasion. I read the other three first I think—it’s a hard to remember, twenty years later. Persuasion was the only one of Austen’s books my mom hadn’t read before, so she couldn’t tell me much about it either. I had to go into it not knowing anything but the blurb on the back cover.

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Pride, Prejudice, & Deceit

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the love triangle trope is as popular now as it was when it was first invented. No matter how many versions, how many different settings, and situations—it never grows old. We like it when the heroine feels torn between two different men and must make a heart-wrenching decision. Jane Austen was perhaps the queen of the love triangle since it featured so often in her novels. My favorite of hers is in Pride and Prejudice, because the Lizzy, Darcy, and Wickham are so closely linked. The introductions of Darcy and Wickham propels Lizzy’s story forward, and it’s a catalyst for Lizzy’s prejudice against Darcy and preference for Wickham. Continue reading

My Literary Journey

The people we allow into our lives shape us. They become a part of our identity whether or not we realize it. I look back on the teenage me and am amazed at how little I knew of classic literature. Oh, sure, there were lessons in Shakespeare and a truly painful course on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, but apart from that my interests were average. I spent most of my time reading flimsy clean romances. Continue reading

Frances Burney

While now known through Jane Austen aficionados as one of Austen’s favorite novelists, for a while the world largely forgot Frances “Fanny” Burney. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Fanny’s social satires and comedy of manners were the books to read. Young Jane Austen subscribed to a circulating library to read Fanny’s latest novel. It influenced her enough she borrowed from said works and incorporated them in her own canon. The wealthy man’s pursuit of a social inferior, the buffoonish suitor, vulgar relatives, the name Willoughby, the phrase “Pride and Prejudice” itself—all originated with Fanny Burney. Continue reading

A Village That Transcends Time


Far, far away in Britain there is a beautiful place called Gretna Green. This small village in the south of Scotland famous for its runaway weddings and romantic wedding traditions dating back over centuries, which originated from cross-border elopements stemming from differences between Scottish marriage laws and those in neighboring countries. So why does this unremarkable village have a wedding capital’s reputation? Let’s try to understand. Continue reading

Almost, but Not Quite: Mansfield Park’s Henry Crawford


In Jane Austen’s novels, the love stories are presented with such contrasts: the heroine with her hero and with the foil, a man who vies for our heroine’s hand but isn’t suitable for her for whatever reason (Sense and Sensibility’s John Willoughby, Persuasion’s William Elliot, just to name a few). This is certainly the case in Mansfield Park: Fanny Price is in love with Edmund Bertram, but “bad boy” Henry Crawford, who is the complete opposite of Edmund and Fanny in personality and character, vies for her affection. While the resulting romance is a foregone conclusion, the way that Henry Crawford’s affections played out in a way leaves him as the second fiddle, the guy who didn’t get the girl at the end. Continue reading

A Conversation with Lydia Bennet



the following is an excerpt from my interview with Miss Catherine Bennet (known by her friends and closet relations as Kitty). Naturally, no recorders were present at the interview as they had not yet been invented in the 1810’s, so what follows is my best recollection of the conversation.

Hannah: “It is very nice to meet you my dear Miss Catherine.”

Kitty: “Please, call me Kitty, most everyone does.”

H: “Thank you for taking the time to meet with me this afternoon for a short discussion on your family.” Continue reading

The Vanity of Mrs. Norris



She may not possess nefarious magical powers used for ill. She may not live in an eerie castle or have a deadly criminal past. Her goal in life is not world domination. But Mansfield Park’s Mrs. Norris is so mean and false in her attitudes and impressions that she makes people’s lives—namely her niece, Fanny Price—ever the more difficult and unhappy. Continue reading

A Man Named Willoughby



Not all villains are bent on evil. Most do not even consider their actions evil. In their minds, they’re looking out for their own best interests or they are “following their heart.” Many even have good qualities; they love and give and show flickers of morality. Mr. John Willoughby of Jane Austen’s timeless classic Sense and Sensibility is one of those villains who is not exactly a villain, but he’s not a good man either. When he makes his debut in the story, he seems to come in the form of a knight in shining armor but in reality he is the downfall of many. Continue reading

Quiet Virtue



Recently I read an article about Jane Austen in which Edward Ferrars was remarked upon as unintelligent and uninteresting.

It’s all the rage these days to denigrate the quiet, virtuous character of Edward, along with the similarly quiet and virtuous character of Edmund Bertram (who was called a “dull parson” in the article). They are rarely dealt with kindly in pop culture essays. Apparently, an interesting character (and especially an interesting lover) must be as proud and handsome as Mr. Darcy, as vivacious and popular as Henry Crawford, and as wronged and attractive as Captain Wentworth to be considered “interesting” in our culture. Never mind that Mr. Darcy’s pride gave great pain to the woman he loved, Henry Crawford’s vivacity couldn’t keep him from being deeply distressing to the woman he pretended to love, and Captain Wentworth’s wrongs made him resentful and hurtful to the woman who loved him. At least they’re “interesting.” Continue reading