Jane Austen’s insights on love – Part 4


Lesson no. 4: When it comes to love, the rebels are always underrated.

I’ve always loved the character of Lizzie’s spinster-in-the-making sister Mary.  In an era where women of the Bennet’s social class put all their energy into marrying, Mary stands out as a real rebel.  She dresses in somber colors, she’s not interested in ribbons or finery, and she dismisses balls as irrational ways of meeting people.  She’s the ultimate foil to the rest of the Bennet girls.  One could imagine Mary staying happily single for the rest of her life.  With her books and piano as her companions, Mary seeks refuge from the marriage obsession that permeates her household.  What a great little rebel Mary Bennet is.  And so underappreciated too.

Jane Austen herself never married.  She threw herself into writing and became one of the rare women in her time to gain an independent income.  She also became a legendary storyteller who is still revered and beloved down to this day.  Jane Austen wasn’t Lizzie Bennet, Emma Woodhouse or Anne Elliot — heroines who ended happily in marriage.  Jane Austen was the Mary Bennet of her time — a real rebel in every way.


4 responses to “Jane Austen’s insights on love – Part 4

  1. In the book there are lines that Mr. Collins says that are given to Mary Bennet in the movie version that you’re speaking of. One in particular is the commentary on balls not being a good way to actually get to know people.

    I like Mary too. I don’t think that I agree that she would be indifferent to remaining unmarried. She, as you recall, in the book is interested in Mr. Collins, she relates to him, and believes that they share similar interests . Being passed over by Collins is hurtful to her, because she, unlike the others, actually appreciates him.

    Yes, I could see Austen as more closely mirroring Mary in some ways, more than Lizzy. But perhaps that’s more in the shared circumstance of having never married.

    Oh, sequel alert! Perhaps we have to write a book – MARY GETS A MAN

  2. I didn’t know that Mary’s comment about balls being irrational ways of meeting people was attributed to Mr. Collins. It’s been a while since I read the book.

    I’m really looking forward to the BBC version of Persuasion. That’s a really great book. I can’t believe women in Jane Austen’s time were old maids at 25! Given the life expectancy at the time though, I guess it makes sense.

    I like to think that Jane Austen is like Mary because she never met her match and wasn’t willing to settle for less. Jane Austen could have married and been Mrs. So-and-So but instead she remained Jane Austen and became a legend. I think she would have married had she met the right person.

    I like your book idea!

  3. That is what I love about Jane Austen the most, life mimics literature. In all of Jane Austen’s books be can relate to at least one character. And I dare say, we have all met a Mr. Darcy and a Mr. Collins.

  4. Diana I'm glad I became Lizzie although on the Mary path

    I’m glad I became Lizzie not simply because she marries and falls in love but because she was brave enough to allow herself to fall in love.
    Elizabeth Bennett shows courage and gumption in accepting that not only was Mr. Darcy in need of correction but that she too had a few rough edges that could be misunderstood. Mary unfortunately holds true to her nieve look at womanhood perhaps only because it’s safe. She fails to realize that men are men! Regarless of the time period. Mr. Collins passes her over not because they would not have made a good match but because she is under the nieve notion that she is perfectly fine the way she is. Her harsh judgements on the customs of her time would not have allowed any man to feel that he could live up to such high noble expectations. Therefore purses the shy but appreciatve Charlotte who will show honor and value the fragile male ego.
    Mary is only a heroine and truly happy if she is truly leading the life she desires.

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