Lines To Love: Jane Austen Speaks
When an author’s work gets inducted into the Hall of Classics, her words automatically get gilded and glorified. That is what has happened with Jane Austen, and well she deserves it.
Jane does not hold back in her opinions. Certainly, she guises them as the opinions of her characters, but you can always tell when she took great pleasure in writing precisely what she thought, like in this line from Persuasion:
The truth of that one doesn’t even need to be explained. I know we all know that it’s true, right, dear reader? This line from Sense and Sensibility echoes the previous one slightly.
Anyone else hearing Frank Sinatra singing My Way in the background? And in that vein:
Now, Mary Crawford gets a bum wrap for her part in the villainy in Mansfield Park. However, I sometimes find I’m inclined to agree with my character Elinor (see post here) on this one. Mary is one of the most interesting characters in the novel. Furthermore, she is very honest when it comes to knowing herself. She’s selfish and has a host of flaws, each of which she knows. And while admitting to this next flaw might not be a thing I would ever do, I can’t deny the universal truth of it- regardless whether or not that universal truth is acknowledged:
Oddly enough, when I read Mary Crawford now as an adult, having read many of Jane’s letters and personal musings, I see a lot of who Jane must have been in that character. Jane Austen was a feisty woman, just like Mary. In fact, this next line could be Jane, but it could be Mary, too.
I’m including this next line because I know I can’t be the only one who has endured the trials of small talk at gatherings. All those insipid questions where people feign interest in you or your passions for the purpose of being polite, but quickly and obviously lose interest when you actually answer their questions. When I read this line, I laughed. I can relate. I’m sure you can, too.
Now, this next one from Emma always puts a big grin on my face. It’s basically the Regency equivalent of Own It.
Jane Austen never married. However, that did not mean that she didn’t have decisive opinions on all aspects of love and marriage. She derided her own sex, but men did not fair well in her estimation either. While her words could be caustic at times, there is a certain prim humor to them, as though she’s writing them with pursed lips because she’s delighting in her own mischief.
And while dating wasn’t precisely a thing in Austen’s time, I believe this next line from Emma Woodhouse is sagacious advice for anyone out there on the dating circuit.
I always derive a great deal of enjoyment from the pithy comments Mr. Bennett makes. For such a quiet, removed man, he really holds nothing back when his opinion is courted. Just take a look at this remark he makes to Elizabeth about Mr. Darcy. It’s both faceted with truth because Lizzy’s parents would reconcile themselves to whomever she chose as her husband because of their love for her, BUT they find Darcy a disagreeable, arrogant man. The fact that Mr. Bennett says it outright is hilarious.
While Pride and Prejudice gifts us with a bevy of silly women who make silly decisions because they love silly things, Jane lets her opinions on women shine in Persuasion. Ah, Mrs. Croft may be one of my all time favorite minor characters to grace the page. While she’s only in Persuasion for a handful of moments, each of them are like those drops that sparkle. This one in particular:
While we can all point to those who challenge Mrs. Croft’s supposition, women are rational creatures. Elizabeth Bennett is one such creature. This next line deals with finding the one for whom your soul longs. Oh, what joy!
If you must take one quote away from this, one which you can post on your mirror to remind yourself, it’s this one:
Dwell on the good things. Remember them. Hold them dear. For they are the drops that sparkle on the waters of life.
And, because I believe that the community here at Whiskers is the best, I’ll let Anne Elliot’s words describe you, dear readers:
What’s your favorite Jane Austen quote?