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Thread: Austen's heroines if she'd lived longer and written more

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Austen's heroines if she'd lived longer and written more

    This is probably a question for the ladies. Jane Austen's heroines were all different in each of her books. Lizzie Bennet is witty and assertive. Emma Woodhouse is well-meaning, but her emotional intelligence is not the best. Anne Elliot is more mature but rueful. Fanny Price is morally upright, uptight, but passive. Catherine Morland is a typical teenage girl. Elinor Dashwood is officer calibre, but Marianne Dashwood is emotional. So my question is if Jane Austen had lived longer and had written more books, what would her other heroines have been like? Would she ever have made a heroine out of someone like the worldly woman, Mary Crawford, or adulteress, Maria Bertram, from Mansfield Park? Personally, Maria Bertram is the only character from any of Austen's books whose future I would have been interesting in hearing about.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    Ecurb Ecurb's Avatar
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    Four of Austen's heroine's have to disabuse themselves of their incorrect perceptions: Elizabeth, Catherine, Marianne and Emma. Fanny is an anti-heroine, steadfastly refusing to go out into the world to seek her fortune (as traditional heroes do). I think Austen picked her heroines because she was interested in trying new literary structures. Mansfield Park is the opposite of most novels in both its tone and its plot. The villains are charming; the heroes dull.

    Austen wrote of Emma (from memory) "I shall take a heroine whom nobody but I will like." I think she set herself a goal of writing a great novel about an unattractive (in some ways) heroine. I'd bet that if she lived she might go in a similar direction -- thaking heroines who maker her authorial tasks more difficult, and heroine's that require her to manipulate her readers with her massive talent.

    I'm interested in Austen's "foils". What happened to Mary and Henry Crawford? How did Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax's marriage work out? Mr. Eliot is a bit of a bore (I doubt he ended up with Mrs. Clay), who serves mainly to peak Wentworth's interest. But I always liked that cad Willoughby, who charmed me like he charmed Marianne (although I admit he was wicked). Wickham is a bore, but Willoughby has real charm (as does Henry Crawford). John Thorpe, Mr. Collins, and Caroline Bingley exist strictly for comic relief.

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Interesting point about Fanny Price. The more likeable heroines, Elizabeth, Catherine, Marianne and Emma, were all wrong about something. In the case of Marianne, I can't remember what. Fanny Price was the only character who was right. She was physically weak, financially dependent, shy and withdrawn, but was shrewd enough and had enough moral courage to resist being pushed into marriage with a bad man. I suppose that is what makes her a heroine.

    So going back to Mary Crawford, a lady capable of telling dirty jokes; who condoned her brother's falseness towards women; who had little respect for religion. Could Jane Austen ever have made a heroine of someone like her? I have not read Lady Susan. Wasn't she a bit racy? Neither Jane Austen nor her sister ever married. Perhaps she might have written about a heroine who never married. Her depiction of spinsters such as Miss Bates and the hopeless case, Nancy Steele, make the condition sound like lingering death.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    "Her depiction of spinsters such as Miss Bates and the hopeless case, Nancy Steele, make the condition sound like lingering death."
    I think you have got a point there, kev, marriage was the material and social survival of these Austen women, not to speak of the advantages of love and having an own family. Austen wrote about a class of accomplished and well educated women, who weren´t rich enough to be financially independent and not poor enough to survive by working. They existed in a sort of genteel limbo, where a good marriage was the only way out. Not to speak of other family members who were also dependent on them making a good match.
    #Stay home as much as you can and stay well

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    I doubt JA would ever have written a heroine like Becky Sharp. Might she have written a heroine like Cathy Earnshaw or Tess Durbeyfield? Most of her heroines are upper middle class, despite their money worries. Only Fanny Price comes from a lower middle class background. So a heroine like Tess Durbeyfield seems unlikely, never mind a working class heroine like Mary Barton. Cathy Earnshaw is wild, passionate, but selfish. That does not sound much like any J.A. heroine.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

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