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|Did JA's family's reliance on wealthy benefactors influence her views?
Written by Kay S
(2/7/2003 3:06 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, MT: The importance of connection, penned by Linden
] The success of George Austen shows how important connection was in the period. He had virtually no money himself, and he wasn't of very high rank, but he was well connected, even more so after his marriage.
As you demonstrate, George Austen made the most of his wealthy connections, and Jane Austen materially benefited from his doing so.
This makes it all the more interesting that in her novels, Jane Austen parodies this sort of Regency era networking. Mr. Collins comes to mind as the supreme send-up of patronising one's connections. Think of his wonderfully appalling proposal to Elizabeth Bennet!
'Allow me, by the way, to observe, my fair cousin, that I do not reckon the notice and kindness of Lady Catherine De Bough as among the least of the advantages in my power to offer. You will find her manners beyond anything I can describe; and your wit and vivacity, I think, must be acceptable to her, especially when tempered with the silence and respect which her rank will inevitably excite.'
We can cite other characters in this mold: Mrs. Elton and her constant dronings about her sister's situation, to name just one example.
Is it possible that Jane Austen's family's reliance on the kindness of wealthy benefactors gave rise to an ironic view of such practices, in her opinion?
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