Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Prized Then?

I've been thinking about what people want in a woman today and what people wanted in a woman in Regency times.

Everyone loves Lizzie as a character. Girls want to be her. There are hats that say "Mrs. Darcy". I should know, I own one. The thing is, we love Lizzie now. She's what we like in a modern woman. She has wit and fine eyes. But was she prized in Regency times? We know Mr. Darcy prized her in the end, but not at the beginning. If we remember the movie at least we know Mr. Darcy didn't think her a beauty. Isn't there that line about "I'd as soon call her mother a wit." Very funny, Caroline.

So let's talk about me, Jane Austen. I was not pretty. I was pretty average at least from the one painting of me that still exists. But I do have wit and I wrote some lovely books and while I am prized now and people love me enough to dedicate blogs to me and to write fan fiction about my novels, was I prized in Regency times?

I think it must have been very hard for me. To fit into a world where I had little power as a woman. I had wit, but I was suppose to embroider and be a good housewife, which I never got to be. If my tongue hadn't been so sharp would I have had other offers? I know I turned one down.

Did Cassandra always understand me? Did I ever say sharp words that hurt her?

I wonder. I can't quite recall all of my time when I was writing my novels. I only know of what I read, but as a woman who now as wit and a pair of fine eyes, I wonder if I will be valued even though I'm not incredibly thin. On the Fourth of July I was mocked because I was the only one of my neighbors to own a bookcase. All night long I heard "Maybe we could say educated things if we bought a bookcase." Also one of my male friends just told me that a woman has to be hot in order to make the relationship last. She has to be thin and wit alone isn't going to make a relationship. His argument was I cared just as much since I wouldn't date Stephen Hawking. Joke's on him. I would date Stephen Hawking. Think of the great conversations you could have!

Maybe I haven't changed so much since Regency times and really maybe men's expectations haven't either.


  1. Hi:) Love your post...and I do wonder how Jane fit in...But- I hope to soon find out...a couple of days ago I bought: The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James at my local 'used'bookstore. Cant wait to read what she had to say!

  2. PRIZED? You couldn't be.Like any other genius you were TOO AHEAD to be understood or prized. Great post, as usual.

  3. this is off topic and I usually only lurk here but I have a question that I hope someone here can answer--- I just re-read Peruasion (after tons of years) and having the movie versions fresh in my mind I am struck that the recent BBC version and the 2000 Amanda Root version both have the scene wher Cptn. Wentworth asks Anne if the Crofts need to leave the estate because of her impending marriage. This scene is not in the book (I am sure, or did I miss it) so why is it so pervasive in the film adaptation. Anyone know if the 2000 film was the first to have it?
    Thanks for the help y'all and love the blog.

  4. Well the scene is and isn't in the book. It all depends on what version you purchase. If you get the Penguin Classic edition you will see that I died before I had completed the book. There were other scenes that I had written and the one where WEntworth asks Anne about leaving the estate is actually one of those scenes. I believe, although I could be wrong, that my nephew chose which version was ultimately printed. Now, in modern times, it seems that people prefer that scene. It is also in the 2007 version starring Sally Hawkins. I, however, prefer the 1971 version. It is four hours long, but it is by far my favorite. In fact I am watching it now.

  5. thanks Jane! I just watched the Hawkins wersion because I love the male lead but I found the adaptation not very satisfying. But I noticed the scene was there as it was in the Amanda Root one and wondered. The writen version I have is the one you can download for free through Project Gutenberg (sorry to be stealing your royalties!) and it did not have the scene.
    I will check out the 1971 version. Thanks again. It was bothering me no end not to know about the origin of the scene.

  6. I do want to say that my Penguin classics version was purchased in the UK. I'm not sure if it's in the US editions.

    I also love Rupert Penry-Jones and was disappointed with the Sally Hawkins version. There were some scenes that I did like in the Hawkins version, but I do find the 1971 version to be quite well done except for Anne's hair which is way too Victorian for me. I hope you enjoy.