Jane Austen and Selective Breeding
Posted by Caroline on January 15, 1998 at 21:30:32:
Have you noticed that JA is really particular in describing the pets of her characters? Henry Tilney lives with a Newfoundland puppy and some Terriers, not just a few dogs. Willoughby has his devoted Pointer bitch, not a dog, but a bitch, and won't let Sir John have any of her puppies. Lady Bertram 's affection is wasted on Pug, who sounds just revolting, besides seemingly changing sex halfway through the story!
Since I am under the definite impression that JA never wastes a detail, what does this say about her characters? Or about the society in which she lived, where selective breeding was just beginning to be scientific?
Also, Harriet Smith has a cow, not just an ordinary cow, but an Alderney. Is an Alderney a viable pet? Why would JA give her an Alderney(well, I think I know why, but I'd like your opinion!)
Do any of the Austen characters have other pets? I cannot recall any cats mentioned, whether purebred or not....
Anyone find this interesting?
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