Sunday, 3 March 2013

Letter No. 3

Letter Number Three

Dear Ashleigh

It has been some time since I have written.  Life gets so filled up with people, activities and distractions.  Wouldn’t it be grand to observe a day in Jane Austen’s life to see the people, activities and distractions that took her away from writing?  I just had this shock of awareness at what those distractions and necessities cost us.  Imagine the books!  Imagine the new characters.

Since our last talk, I have been thinking about the older women in the Austen books.  The women of my generation are not inspiring.  Lady Catherine is arrogant, controlling and lacks the awareness to see how this disconnects her from others.  Mrs. Bennet is flighty and attention seeking.  She does not deal with adversity in a manner that her children could model.  Lady Russell, although she appears to care for Anne, interferes with the relationship between Anne and Frederick.  Mrs. Jennings and Miss Bates are well intentioned but talk a great deal, drawing the contempt of the young women, Mary Anne and Emma.  Aunt Norris is as heartless a character as Wickham or Crawford.  Lady Bertram wins the unenviable title of the most passive person in all the novels.  In one of the films she is portrayed as drugged with laudanum.

Mrs. Bennet, Pride and Prejudice, 
Helen Sewell’s Illustrations
It is a fantasy of mine that Jane would have reached the age of 60 and written about women of my generation as wise, calm and inspiring.  But as you pointed out, if the conflict between Elizabeth and Darcy had not taken place we would not go back to the story repeatedly.  These older women provide the tension that demands that the younger women be assertive, or as in Emma’s case, humble.  There is Aunt Gardiner who likes to travel and writes letters.  I bet she knits!

Let’s finalize our plans for the tea this week.

Yours truly,


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