I often wonder what Jane Austen would have thought of the intense interest in her writings more two hundreds years further on. I wonder whether it had entered her mind that her books would gain a worldwide audience, and her popularity only grow. On the second, I think the answer would be a definite no. It never occurred to her. On the evidence, all she hoped for was the publication of her novels and their acceptance.
On the first, I think she would have been stunned, flabbergasted – and appalled. Appalled at the interpretation by some who attribute political views to her she did not hold. Feminists have given her the status of a feminist icon while the evidence speaks against this.
Jane Austen was a devout Christian, leaning to the High Church of England. Her traditional Christian beliefs, which include the idea of an ordered world, would disqualify this picture before we look at other evidence. In her novels, she savages a range of female types – the stupid, the ignorant, the neurotic, the manipulative, the deceitful, the cruel, and the list goes on. The heartless Mrs Norris in Mansfield Park is perhaps the most vile female character in English fiction.Continue reading Pride and Prejudice again