Proposals and Marriage in Jane Austen’s Novels



what's the most important thing in a Jane Austen novel some might say often complainingly oh it's all about getting married it's all back up and so it is of course she writes comedies comedies and in marriage she writes about a society in which for many people for many young women getting married the most important thing and of course quite a few of her heroines their chance of of happiness in life seems to be promised on their chance of marriage their chances of marriage because within that she does wonderful things within the conventions that she she knew and accepted as part of her social world so for instance Sense and Sensibility is a novel which would have been possible without certain strict conventions about getting engaged about proposals Jane Austen is really interested in the business of making proposals and here's a nice hint to readers why is it that almost all proposals in Jane Austen novels which are made indoors are unsuccessful and almost all proposals which are made out of doors are successful think about that one one rule in Jane Austen is that if a man proposes marriage as if he assumes the answer will be yes and the answer will be no men only seem to succeed in making proposals certainly for the heroines of Jane Austen novels if they're properly diffident and unconfident mr. Darcy of course has to learn that lesson but also there are these conventions about proposals and engagement which I think the first time read it can quite soon grassed you don't have to read background books to get these two conventions in particular important first the man proposes the woman can only decline Henry Tillman North anger Abby says to Catherine Morland whom of course he will eventually married it's the same in marriage as in dancing in Jane Austen the man asks the woman can only say yes or no so in sex and Sensibility this convention is hugely important because women have to wait to be asked what said would flare us up to Ellen that doesn't know he seems to be interested in her but he never asks or he does eventually but for much of the novel he's not asking has Willoughby asked Marianne he seems to behave as if he loves her that has he asked her and the second convention equally important in Sense and Sensibility is that if a man asks a woman to marry him and she agrees even if nobody else knows about it he is bound to honor that commitment and he's actually legally bound it's breach of promise if he if he if he tries to slip out of this commitment so that's of a modern that modern word commitment is a man committed to a relationship is really hard and fast in the world of Jane Austen and of course the plot of Jane of Sense and Sensibility relies on the fact that Edward Ferris has an engagement which he now regrets which he can't weasel out of because he's a gentleman but the wonderful thing I think about Austen though the reason you know she's so much in control of her material is that these conventions become intelligible in the course of the novel I don't think you need a KERS of explanation to realize pretty quickly when you read Sense and Sensibility what's going on you

2 thoughts on “Proposals and Marriage in Jane Austen’s Novels

  1. The novels of Jane Austen were actually written by her cousin Eliza de Feuillide as I show in my book "Jane Austen – a New Revelation". She could not publish under her own name because she was The illegitimate daughter of Warren Hastings, the Governor General of India.

  2. This guy acts is if women nowadays propose to men. They hardly ever initiate anything related to romance lol

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