Wednesday, January 09, 2008

the trouble with Austen

I do love a good costume drama romance. The current BBC adaptation of Sense and Sensibility being a case in point. I wonder though, whether they're quite good for one. However tangled and supense-filled the romantic upsets and twists and turns, there's always a happy ending, the heroine always finds her man, although she usually learns some important lessons on the way. Do they paint a picture that's too neat, too hopeful, too much certainty of finding love and marriage? Perhaps. But the process of learning is important too. Jane Austen's heroines don't get their husbands on a plate, they must learn and change first, whether that means leaving behind sily notions of gothic romance or wrong first impressions. It's the humanity of the process that makes the novels more than silly romances and that makes them last, as well as Austen's wit and narrative voice. Perhaps they're not a bad impression of finding love after all. I think it's just the apparent inevitabilty of the process that worries me. Hmm.


Nathan said...

What do you make of Mansfield Park, where Fanny does get A man, but only by reverting to boring, mousy, scaredycat type and forgetting all she learnt from being with that more interesting but ultimately sadly unreliable chap with a name like Crawford? Might that be a JA book where the heroine sort of doesn't get THE man?

Although I may be talking rubbish as it's 12 years since I read it.



Pig wot flies said...

It's a while since I read MP and I think I've only read it the once. Hmm. It probably tells you something about what Austen thinks are the necessary virtues a young woman ought to have.