The End

Le Fin

Favim

I can’t think of a way to conclude this wonderful study without sounding grandiose and cheesy. We have accomplished our goal. I’ve been thrilled by everything we have discovered together. I can’t believe we get to do this and it counts as work. Truly a rarity and a blessing. If you are a reader that was not involved in the collaboration I encourage you to check out the other bloggers:

Our Self-Portrait Minus One

Our Self-Portrait Minus One

All About Austen

The World According to Jane

Getting to Know Jane

Considering Jane Austen

E.D. Woodworth Writes

 

We fought hard and took no prisoners.

We fought hard and took no prisoners.

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Final Thoughts, Persuasion

Final Thoughts: Persuasion

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Persuasion, I must admit, is one of the novels that I was able to experience for the first time over the last few months. What a treat that it was such a wonderful read. It has definitely become a new favorite. It comes as no surprise that Austen’s last novel would be her most accomplished. After many years of improving skills as a writer, I would think you could only get better unless, and sorry to be depressing, your inspiration has a peak. However, I was not prepared for the novel to be such a triumph.

Anne Elliot is an incredibly well-rounded character. I found her emotional depth truly touching. So many of Austen’s heroine’s express their emotions outwardly. Sure, some out louder than others, even Elinor’s repressed pain bubbled over into euphoria, but Anne held steadfast and expressed her joys and sorrows in subtleties. I cannot read Anne without seeing Jane Austen. I think that she channeled a full life into this novel. Family, mistakes, heartaches, and love and the lines blurred between them. Austen gave up much in her life, but she maintained her wit, and if her novels are anything to judge by, she maintained her optimism as well. I sincerely hope so. And if not, I hope her wonderful stories were a comfort to her.

 

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fanfic, Original, Persuasion

Cordially, Anne

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Anne set aside yet another tear stained paper to dry for later use. Unlike her father she was too frugal to throw anything that could be of use away, even in her great heartbreak. She just could not bring herself to begin the awful letter. She knew that it had to be done. She knew that her heart was playing tricks on her, and this would pass like her sisters’ passing fancies. Yet her heart was ripping slowly and painfully into two misused, bloody halves. She could not write the letter.

Anne was shaking in her desk chair, but she hardly knew it. She was in a haze. She knew nothing, but her own pain. Her face was swollen and sallow from crying and her hair was falling down in ringlets around her face as it slipped from her pins in her current frantic disposition. She gripped her pen firmly and began to write.

My Darling Wentworth,

I love you more than I can bare, but I am prevented from marrying you. It is completely impossible and would only tear us both from loved ones for a life of poverty and isolation. Please do not hate me. Surely you can see it can never be? I must do what is best for both of us and for my family.

Your Most Ardently Devoted,

Anne Elliot

This brought on a fresh wave of agonized wailing that would have brought the whole household into her quarters had she not had a pillow at the ready in her lap to muffle her cries. She could not bare to be mocked by her sisters or father in this state, even if they did not intend it. Her family loved her, but they were not overrun with tact.

She mopped her sore, tired face with her handkerchief and allowed herself to drop this one page into the nearby fire so that seeing it again later could not revive the initial pang. She sat down solemnly and again picked up her pin.

My Dearest Wentworth,

Please do not ask me to explain, but only, I cannot marry you. Please do not be very sad. I fervently apologize for the pain this will cause you. Know that I hold you very dearly in my heart and respect you above all others, and know that I do this for both of us.

Yours Affectionately,

Anne Elliot

Even as she wrote her excuses she knew that she was cutting the strings that connected their two hearts one-by-one, and soon he would be lost to her forever. Each word stung more than the last, but she knew in time she would be numb to its affect. She would endure. Anne Elliot will always endure. And so, with a heavy heart, her hand met her pen once more. She knew what was necessary for them both. Make it quick. Do not drag the pain along for either party. It ends now.

My Dear Wentworth,

I must reject your offer of marriage. I apologize for any false encouragement I may have given you. I hope that we may part on good terms.

Cordially,

Anne

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Gender, Persuasion, Womanhood

On Gender–Part 3

It is no secret that Jane Austen’s novels were influenced by her life, but I believe that as she grew in maturity, Austen’s heroine’s grew with her. I think this is why for so many female readers her characters have different levels of relatability at separate times in their lives.

When I first read Sense and Sensibility at about fifteen, I could feel in convincing detail every single melodramatic emotion that Marianne felt and I wept with her when she wept. I fell a little bit in love with Willoughby, didn’t understand any Colonel Brandon that wasn’t Alan Rickman, and my heart was shattered when she was jilted. I even daydreamed about playing her in a mini-series before they actually released one. I knew I was the only girl who really understood Marianne Dashwood and could portray her with any justice. I was a very intense fifteen year-old.

And on my most recent reading of Emma, I connected with her much more than I had in junior high when I first read it. I know I’ve had my know-it-all moments where I wouldn’t budge and I’ve slipped up and said insensitive things that were meant in jest when I was on a roll  exchanging humor with friends. I even understand why Frank Churchill is so irresistible either as a mate or just a friend. Too often I’ve fallen for the flirtatious guy who keeps pushing the joke just a little to close to the edge that you beg through giggles and exhausted tears to stop or at least keep his voice down. I know what it’s like to not know where the line falls between witty exchanges and flirting. I must admit that I have also daydreamed about playing Emma.

I love Persuasion’s story and I love the characters, but I can’t say that I entirely relate to Anne Elliot. I can fully understand her journey as I would like to consider myself an empathetic, imaginative person, but aside from her patience and endurance which I know all too well, I have never experienced a long-term separation like the one she had from Captain Wentworth If anything, I recognize qualities in her that I have seen in relatives that lost or were separated from a loved-one or sacrificed their own feelings for those of another. And I have certainly heard from others that they connect especially with Anne. I have not yet fantasized about playing her in any theatrical format.

Persuasion, like most of Austen’s novels, I think could only have been written from the first hand experience of a woman who had endured much and grown abundantly in wisdom. It follows a trend, I believe, of a woman who expressed her deepest passions and heartbreaks, as well as her silliest mistakes in pages that created an emotional depth that could not have been achieved purely from fantasy.

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Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice, Really?

The Case Against Mr. Darcy and Final Thoughts on Pride and Prejudice

I’m going to go ahead and say it. I think Mr. Darcy is kind of a jerk. And even when he redeems himself, I still don’t understand why everyone thinks he’s such a hunky dreamboat, no matter how ardent he is. Yet so many people have placed him on the pedestal of best hero/romantic interest ever ever in the history or future of ever. I don’t get it.

And don’t get me wrong, I love Colin Firth as much as the next repressed white girl who replaced relationships with the BBC for the first twenty years of life. Maybe its his sultry, misunderstood, puppy-dog eyes that are to blame. Perhaps if anyone could explain why they loved Mr. Darcy before the nineties I would understand.

Here are the reason’s why Mr. Darcy is the actual worst:

1. Prejudice–It’s in the title, y’all!

We all know that Mr. Darcy’s biased first impression of Lizzie is a snobbish and unfair one, but he was not only rude to her, HE ALSO BLEW OFF THE ENTIRE TOWN.

“It is a compliment which I never pay to any place if I can avoid it.”

There was not a single person in town that could possibly be worth his time, so why should he get to know anybody other than Mr. Bingley and Caroline.

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2. He’s a tad bit sexist, unironically.

You are dancing with the only handsome girl in the room.”

He glanced around the room and decided that all the ladies were hags because they wore country fashions. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but only a little.

“You either choose this method of passing the evening because you are in each other’s confidence, and have secret affairs to discuss, or because you are conscious that your figures appear to the greatest advantage in walking; if the first, I would be completely in your way, and if the second, I can admire you much better as I sit by the fire.”

Yeah. That happened. I would be tempted to chew someone out for that speech even today. Thankfully Lizzie is more cunning than I am hot-headed.

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3. He broke up Jane and Bingley and then proposed…obviously.

I’m not going to even say much here because we all know that was a jerk move and his first proposal was awfully condescending. Thankfully Lizzie calls him out on that one.

4. He only starts treating Lizzie with any manners because he discovers she’s clever.

Mr. Darcy starts to bring the reader around because he begins to treat her like a human being. But he already treated his friends that way and didn’t really extend that privilege to anyone else except Jane because they were the only two that he really had an opportunity to get to know to discover how intelligent and pleasant they were. This hardly convinces me of a miraculous 180 of character.

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5. His one act of valiance could easily be explained as a being bit selfish.

So he rescues Lydia. I admit, that was very nice of him. But maybe he did it because he intended on marrying into the family whose name he would not want sullied by Lydia’s indiscretion. Maybe not. But we really still aren’t seeing a massive inner-growth here.

I really don’t actually dislike Mr. Darcy, in fact I think he is an incredibly well-written, mulch-faceted character. However, as far as the great romantic dish he’s supposed to be, I refrain from endorsing.

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fanfic, Original, Pride and Prejudice

Mr. Bennet Goes to the Ball

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Light flooded in through the nearby window as the clouds moved past and the sun crept into view, rousing Mr. Bennet from a long think. Like an elderly cat in a sunbeam, Mr. Bennet slowly and carefully stretched his achey, disused bones in the warmth and then dragged his hands exasperatedly down his face in an attempt to rouse himself from the quiet, dusty, tucked-away corner of his sleepy mind where he had been residing.

In a few hours he and his rather cumbersome family would be visiting Netherfield Park to attend the ball of the recently arrived Mr. Bingley. The name was burned into his ears, ringing like a shrill bell that sounded a little too much like his wife. It would take him at least as many hours to prepare himself to bear the excursion.

He began reviewing his usual mental blocks, running them over and over to be sure he had them down to a T before entering the social battlefield. Six young daughters and ridiculous wife had given him plenty of practice to develop the ability to seal himself inside the long corridors and bookshelves of his own mind. The trouble, more often, was pulling himself back out again.

He practiced his very best standoffish “I’m musing” face to avoid being drawn into conversation with any of the gossip-drenched tongues of his neighbors. Resting Bennet face would scare off the chattiest of acquaintances. Little did Mr. Bennet know that no one had approached him for a talk in many years. The local population much preferred his loquacious wife.

Then Mr. Bennet started repeating his mental lexicon of responses that he could use despite the context because neither Mrs. Bennet, Kitty, or Lydia would hear a single word no matter how much they badgered him.

“Yes, my dear.”

“Oh, I’m sure.”

“I don’t see why not.”

“What is his name?”

“I leave you to your own trifle amusements.”

“Quite.”

He could always keep the lack of any answer at all in his back pocket if he wanted to completely torment his wife or youngest daughters. He chuckled a bit at the thought. He knew Jane would blossom in her element. Though she may have been somewhat reserved, she was born holding tight to a book on etiquette, he was certain. Mary would, as ever, be the odd one out. She was terribly uncomfortable at these affairs and though she hid it well, her father knew it was her nerves rather than her mother’s that truly suffered. His thoughts made their way to Lizzie and with them came a smile as warm as those rays of sunlight. She held all of the same manners as Jane, but she was bold and bright and tough. She made him prouder than any son ever could and he trusted her above all else to keep the rest of his family in line. And with that comforting thought he allowed himself to drift back into the delectable doze from which he had been roused.

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Pride and Prejudice, Servants

The Help–Part 2

But he was set right there by Mrs. Bennet, who assured him with some asperity that they were very well able to keep a good cook, and that her daughters had nothing to do in the kitchen. — Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Although the Bennets were of somewhat higher means than the Dashwoods, they still employed only a few servants for their small country cottage, despite their dwindling budget and with so many able young daughters.

As most of us have made do without servants and somehow managed to fend for ourselves quite easily, it probably seems a bit odd that a family whose finances have taken a shock would employ any servants. However, according to Kelly Giles in her essay Help!—Servants During the Regency, “before electricity and indoor plumbing it took a lot of manpower (or more often womanpower) to keep a household running. Keeping even a modest home lit, heated, and clean could be a full-time job. Maintaining a grand home and an equally grand lifestyle might require a small army. The Duke of Westminster employed 50 servants at Eaton Hall.” Additionally, the local economy relied heavily on the availability of such positions. Domestic service was one of the few employment opportunities for those of lesser means, especially for women. Many families had members in service for several generations.

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However large estates such as Netherfield and Pemberley would need as many as one hundred servants to take care of both the house and the grounds effectively. It took a ton of hands to keep everything running smoothly so that the stewards of the estates could preserve them for future generations

If you are curious about the servants necessary for the running of homes of wealthier families, PeriodDrama.com has compiled a useful list of the “servant hierarchy” of the nineteenth century:

Served, but were not considered Servants

Chamberlain

Land Stewart

House Steward

Senior Servants

Governess

Nurse

Coachman

Head Gardener

Game Keeper

Upper Servants

Butler

Housekeeper

Valet

Lady’s maid

Cook

Lower Servants

Footman

Under Butler

Groom

Stable Boy

Boot Boy

Hall Boy

Ground Keeper

Parlour Maid

Chambermaid

Upper Laundry-maid

Still-room Maid

Maids-of-all-work (“between maids”)

Under Cook

Kitchen Maid Scullery Maid

Unclassified Servants

Gatekeeper

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For more detailed information about the individual positions mentioned above, definitely check out PeriodDrama.com.

 

Sources

Help!—Servants During the Regency by Kelly Giles

Below Stairs: The Servant Hierarchy 19th Century by Genie Bohn

Regency Servants: Maid of All Work by Vic

More Information

Below Stairs by Margaret Powell

(The 1920’s maid’s memoir that inspired the creation of Downton Abbey. Not the same century, granted, but still a super cool resource!)

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