My Portrait of Jane Austen

When I began this class I loved Jane Austen’s novels. Pride and Prejudice was my favorite book and Mr. Darcy was my favorite character. I loved the movie adaptations of Jane’s books as well as the movies about her life. As we come to the end of this class, all of the above is still true, but I have a more complete view, or portrait of Jane Austen.
Jane was brilliant. She wrote entertaining social commentaries with wonderful, romantic characters and plots. She was a woman ahead of her time. She had an extraordinary gift of expressing herself, but she was a normal woman. She was a loving sister and enjoyed time with her large family. She enjoyed writing from a very young age and wrote hilarious and inaugural works before writing her most popular works, her novels. Jane had a good sense of humor, enjoyed reading, plays, and balls. The information I have learned about Jane makes me want to know so much more! I wish more of her letters had been preserved or she had written an autobiography!!
From taking this class I have learned so much about who Jane was and the lasting influence she has had on society. This class has given me so many more insights that I will remember when I reread Jane Austen’s novels. I now have a much more complete view of Jane Austen’s world. These new discoveries will make my future study of Jane that much more fulfilling.
So while I love Jane Austen’s writing as much as ever, this class has made me appreciate her more as an author and as a person.

And so that ends my Austen blog! It’s been fun! 🙂

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18th Century Brides…expecting a child.

In today’s society it is not always surprising to see an expectant mother at the altar, but I would have thought it would be practically unheard of during Jane Austen’s time. With the strict rules in regard to courtship, fornication, and marriage it would seem that expecting a child outside of marriage would not have been very common. In Pride and Prejudice, we do see Lydia run off with Mr. Wickham, and we can assume they consumate their marriage before their marriage, but there is no indication that Lydia is expecting a child. It was scandal enough for Lydia to run away with him.

I decided to do a little research about the prevalence of pre-maritial sex and the conception of children, and I was extremely surprised about what I found. While the majority of the population seemed to follow the rules of propriety, many did not. In the late 1700s, more than one third of girls was pregnant when she was married. In some areas of England, 50% of brides were pregnant. As you can probably imagine, this was a huge disappointment and scandal for the brides family. If a woman was pregnant and did not end up marrying right away, she was considered a social outcast. Sadly, many single women abandoned their children or worse.

For more information click here. This article also has some very interesting information about marriage and courtship during the time that is not necessarily scandalous but extremely interesting.

 

Christmas Traditions

We all love Christmas, and I’m sure we all have unique, interesting, and heartwarming family traditions that make Christmas special to us. My personal favorite is that my family waits until Christmas Eve to decorate our Christmas tree. We start in the morning, and spend the day eating cookies, listening to Christmas music, and decorating the tree. This way we can keep our tree up and looking beautiful for a while after Christmas. After that, we go to Christmas Eve Mass, and then spend the evening at my Grandparents home, where we exchange gifts with my extended family. Just writing this is making me excited!! For this weeks blog, I chose to take a look at some of the Christmas traditions that were popular during the Regency. I found one very interesting one that I thought I would share with you.

A British woman contributed to an issue The New Monthly Magazine in 1825. She wrote that her favorite Christmas tradition was sitting around  a large fire with her family and friends. She said that other aspects of the holiday, such as food, were not necessary, but that a huge, blazing fire was the visible heart and soul of Christmas. She said the fire represented all the bright thoughts and hope of the season, and that should not be denied them.

As someone who really loves spending time with family and friends during the Christmas season, this image really resonated with me. I think I would have enjoyed a simple Regency Christmas

 

Footmen in 19th Century England

When searching for this week’s blog topic, I wanted to pick something different. I came across an interesting blog post about male sevants during Jane Austen’s time. After reading the article, I was struck by a few extremely interesting quotes that I want to share with you all. I had never done a lot of thinking about the footmen that appear in the background of the Jane Austen movies I love so much, or about the real people those actors represent.

So here are some quotes and facts I found very interesting!

“Because of their appearance at dinner and in public with the family, footmen were supposed to be the most “presentable” of the male servants. They were evaluated on the basis of the appearance of their calves in silk stocking, and they often gave their height when advertising for positions in the paper–it was considered absurd to have a pair of footmen who didn’t match in height” (Poole, p. 221).

The name “footmen” came from the task the men were required to do. They often ran alongside carriages/

Footmen often competed in contests, running alongside horses and carriages.

The life of a footman was not easy at all. He worked long hours, from early morning to nearly midnight, without much of a break. Here is an account of a footman named John Gorst after seeing a doctor because he fainted on the job. “Dr. Burton asked me how much time I had off for rest and recreation, and I told him that I had not has a day off since I began to work at Ashton-Hayes six months ago. Moreover, I had not had a holiday nor seen my family in more than three years.”

For more information, see this website! http://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com/2008/01/24/footmen-male-servants-in-the-regency-era/

Catherine Morland…A Gothic heroine?

This weekend I was unable to complete this blog post because my power was out. In fact, I felt like I was living inside my own Gothic novel although I had flashlights to penetrate the darkness…

When thinking about this and our blog post for this week I wondered if Catherine Morland is truly a Gothic heroine, or if she is part of Austen’s parody. Not knowing very much about Gothic novels in general, let alone the characteristics of their heroines, I decided to do some research. I found that female Gothic novels typically revolve around a female character who is in need of rescuing. According to the English department at Georgia Southern University, “female Gothic works usually include a female protagonist who is pursued and persecuted by a villainous patriarchal figure in unfamiliar settings and terrifying landscape.”

In my opinion, Catherine does not fit the bill. She has a very good imagination, and is strongly influenced by reading Gothic novels.  Catherine is never truly in danger, but allows herself to invent a danger. For example in Vol. II, chapter 6 (in my book anyway), Catherine opens the mysterious chest in her room. The scene is very dramatic as Austen writes “Her fearful curiousity was every moment growing greater; and seizing, with trembling hands, the hasp of the lock, she resolved at all hazards to satisfy herself as to its contents. With difficulty, for something seemed to resist her efforts, she raised the lid a few inches; but at that moment a sudden knocking at the door of the room made her, starting, quit her hold, and the lid closed with alarming violence” (Austen 115). But, Catherine is not in danger at all.

Catherine Morland’s character serves to help create the parody of the Gothic novel.

Check out this glossary of Gothic literary terms of you want to know more! http://personal.georgiasouthern.edu/~dougt/goth.html

Jane Austen in the Movies

I am going to take the opportunity to write about anything we want this week to tell you about my favorite Jane Austen movies. 

My favorite is the version of Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle. If you haven’t already seen it, I highly recommend that you do. Granted, the movie is about 5 hours long, but every minute is great. Because I love the book so much, I don’t particularly enjoy any adaptation that is not extremely faithful to the book. When watching this version of Pride and Prejudice, I truly feel like I have been placed inside Austen’s novel. Almost all the actors are portrayed exactly like I pictured them the first time I read the book. I especially love Colin Firth, and if you’ve seen the movie I’m sure you know why. He is a great Mr. Darcy.

My second favorite Austen movie is the adaptation of Sense and Sensibility with Kate Winslet, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, and Hugh Grant. Again, I think that each actor is perfect for his or her character. Alan Rickman is a perfect Col. Brandon. I also love the scenery in the film, and the relationship between Elinor and Marianne is portrayed exactly how I pictured it.

If you haven’t seen these movie versions of Austen’s novelS, I highly recommend that you do. Take a Saturday and have a Jane Austen movie day! I promise you won’t be disappointed. Here are a few clips for you to watch in the meantime.

Sense and Sensibility

Pride and Prejudice

Samuel Richardson

As students of Jane Austen it is very interesting to think and learn about the literature that Jane herself likely enjoyed and studied.

In my research, I came across an English novelist whose first major works were published in 1740 and 1747. Samuel Richardson grew up in Derbyshire, a county I recognize from Austen’s novels. Richardson entered the writing world as a printer’s apprentice and then in 1721 set up his own printing business where he became very successful. This success established him as one of the main printers in London during his time. He transitioned into the role of an author, and wrote stories that revolve around topics and characters similar to those in Austen’s works, including loveless marriages, desperate financial circumstances, and female heroines. Richardson is often credited for writing the first English novel, although this is disupted by some. This novel is titled, Pamela, and it is written in letters. Through this novel, Richardson is said to have made the novel acceptable and fashionable to read and write.

Another one of Richardson’s novels that definitely inlfuenced Jane Austen when she was young is Grandison. It is known that Jane read and liked this novel. She is quoted as saying that she knew “every circumstance” of the novel and “everything that was said or done” in the novel.

As a fan of Jane Austen I think it would be very interesting to read Samuel Richardson’s work and compare it to Austen’s. Jane Austen is one of my favorite writers, and I would love to read more of her favorite writers.

The History of England by Jane Austen

In my search for a little history surrounding Jane Austen, I came across something that I found especially interesting. When Jane was 15 years old, she created her own history book titled The History of England a parody of a popular textbook like book by Oliver Goldsmith called History of England. Austen wrote her parody in November of 1791, and her sister, Cassandra, provided illustrations of England’s monarchs. Austen’s history books spans from the reign of Henry IV to the death of Charles I. On the first page of the book, Jane calls herself “a partial, prejudiced, and ignorant historian,” and mentions that her history book will not contain very many dates. Throughout her book, Jane adds her own opinions on historic events and writes with the same wit we see in her novels. She also cites events in Shakespeare plays as facts and inserts her own family members into history.

She states that Joan of Arc should never have been burnt, and that Anne Boleyn was innocent of her crimes. She has an admiration for Mary and a disdain for Elizabeth I, calling her “a disgrace to humanity and a pest of society.” Austen also says that [Elizabeth] “died so miserable that were it not an injury to the memory of Mary I should pity her.” Austen expresses that while she is partial to the Roman Catholic Church, as a historian she must say that during the reign of James I, “the roman Catholics of England did not behave like Gentlemen to the protestants.”

I had no idea about this early work of Jane Austen. I think it is extremely interesting to read Austen’s thoughts on the history of her own country that are not so clearly presented in her novels. The History of England is extremely funny and shows that from a very early age Austen was very well educated and interested in expressing herself through her writing. Her writing here shows that she was a very informed 15 years old, and had strong opinions that she was able to express through wit.

I found a website that contains images of Jane Austen’s The History of England as well as the full text and all illustrations. It is definitely worth a look!

Jane Austen’s The History of England

Book Review

Wish I was in Bath…

As I was sitting in my dorm room tonight finishing my homework, I decided to do a quick Google search to find out if there was anything Jane Austen in the news for our first assigned blog topic. Much to my surprise, I found out that the Jane Austen Festival is happening right now in Bath, England and will continue until September 26. If at all reasonable or remotely possible I would get on a plane and go tomorrow. Seeing as it is not, I will have to be satisfied with looking at pictures of all the lucky people who get to dress up in Regency attire, learn English country dances, and attend balls (Seriously, how cool is that?!). I always have said I would love to have been born in a Jane Austen novel until I remember the whole no modern medicine, get married when you’re 17 thing, so going to the Jane Austen Festival seems like the next best thing!

It seems like those attending the festival will have a very exciting day tomorrow with carriage and walking tours of Bath, a workshop on creating Regency style handbags, and my personal favorite, a class on how to do your hair in a Regency style. And when we are about to start class on Wednesday evening, festival goers will be returning from a day trip to Montacute House, where much of Sense and Sensibility starring Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet was filmed. Come Friday afternoon hundreds of people will gather for the annual Regency Ball for a night of music, food, and excellent company. I don’t know about you, but I’ll be jealous.

Does anyone want to go with me next year?

http://www.janeausten.co.uk/jane-austen-festival/

Hello!

Hi everyone,

Welcome to my Jane Austen blog! I have been reading Jane’s novels since middle school and I love all of them. The 5 hour BBC Pride and Prejudice is my absolute favorite movie and has been for as long as I can remember! I am very excited for the rest of this class and this blog!

~Kathleen