Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Having a pre-birthday bash with Jane Austen's bad boys
Tomorrow is Jane Austen's birthday(her 235th,for those who are counting)and to celebrate,a number of Austen themed websites are having a Jane Austen Birthday Blog Tour.
This event is to be hosted by Maria Grazia of My Jane Austen Book Club and will feature tributes from some of the best Austen folk around such as Laurel Ann of Austenprose,Laurie Viera Rigler,author of the Jane Austen Addict books and blog,Vic Sanborn from Jane Austen World and Meredith from Austenesque Reviews.
Along with the posts,several giveaways will be underway for prizes that include Austen related fiction,a DVD of P&P and three issues of Jane Austen's Regency World magazine. It all sounds like great fun and I hope many of you will join me in partaking in the delights offered by these dedicated Austen lovers this season.
In the meantime,here's a little early birthday fun for Jane Austen fans with a spirited look at a few of Our Dear Jane's most wonderfully wicked men. These charming cads may not be the gents who ultimately walk down the aisle with our heroines(not willingly,in one case,at least) or who make for the best mate but they do know how to give a lady a good time.
First up in our Regency Rogue roster is Mr. Wickam,from Pride and Prejudice. While he is a rather smooth talker who even takes in Elizabeth Bennet from the beginning of their acquaintance,eventually he wound up not being able to talk his way out of a reluctant marriage to her younger and doomed to be ditzy Lydia.
Yes,Wickam makes for such a son-in-law that Mr. Bennet sarcastically praises him for his verbal flair and Mrs. Bennet manages to conveniently forget that she once referred to him as a fiend. While Wickam was more reckless and overly confident with his schemes than fiendish,he certainly was a devil in disguise:
Next to enter our party is Willoughby, Marianne's preserver from Sense & Sensibility. Many people find him to be a flawed yet well intentioned young man,as fair as Miss Marianne was concerned,and take great pity on him for losing her in the end.
Yet,it was his own failings regarding the virtue of Col. Brandon's ward and need for money that lead to Willoughby giving up his true beloved for Miss Grey's hand in marriage which came with a tidy fortune attached to it.
Perhaps he would have made a good husband to Marianne and an excellent addition to the Dashwood family if he had not indulged his pleasures so wantonly,but regrets are not enough to make up for causing heartbreak in more than one quarter. Willoughby's woes are the fruits of his lusty labor,sad to say:
Making his way into our parlor now is Emma's Frank Churchill,whose presence in Highbury caused quite a stir wherever he went. True,his reasons for concealing his engagement to Jane Fairfax from his controlling and emotionally demanding aunt were understandable.
However,tricking all of his new friends and family connections into believing that he and Miss Woodhouse(who was truly clueless about this whole affair) were an item was not. Especially when it came to poor Jane Fairfax,who bore her uncertainties as well as the company of Mrs. Elton with the forbearance of a saint.
Fortunately for Jane,Frank rewarded her agony with a proper proposal of marriage but one does have doubts whether or not Mr. Churchill will be able to give up his sneaky ways entirely for her sake. Then again,he did seem to sincerely love Jane so hope on that front is reasonable to have:
Last and most certainly least on our guest list is Henry Crawford,who along with his sister Mary brought about a great deal of mischief during their stay at Mansfield Park.
Henry was not satisfied enough with dividing his flirtations between the Bertram sisters and conducting a secretive affair with Maria under the dense nose of her fiance(I always feel a little sorry for Mr. Rushworth there)but insisted upon "making a hole" in Fanny Price's heart as well.
Despite his efforts(and a misguided rewrite of their relationship in a big budget 1999 film version),Fanny was not Henry's for the having. Instead of going home to recover from his failings,Henry went straight over the edge of respectability and took Maria with him. To paraphrase a statement from a more gentlemanly Austen suitor,Henry Crawford may have been handsome but not enough to tempt Fanny from following the best course for her heart and happiness:
I wish everyone a happy Jane Austen birthday and hope that you all keep in mind that if it not were for those bad boys,Jane's leading ladies wouldn't be able to appreciate the good men who do enter their lives as much.
It does a good woman well and sharpens her wits when a sweet talker or a presumptuous courtier attempts to sweep her off her feet. With such amorous obstacles to be hurdled,finding her true love is all that much the sweeter for the struggle:
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