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03 September 2017 @ 10:48 pm
in vain have I struggled, &c  
In what is a slightly surprising turn of events, I've found myself avoiding much of the Austen media surrounding the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen's death. Much of the writing about Austen on the internet just winds up irking me and rubbing me the wrong way, and I just haven't felt like dealing with that, this summer. (I did watch Lucy Worsley having fun visiting the places Austen had lived, though. That was cute enough, without doing that "but I'm not like all those other Austen fans" thing that is frequently the cause of my irritation.)

Here, however, is a piece I somehow missed from last year, which I rather liked:

What makes Mr. Darcy desirable? - Talia Schaffer

People often declare pompously that there's no real romance in Austen's novels ("but I'm not like all those other Austen fans!"), because declaring that the matches between characters are solely economic ventures is a way of "saving" Austen from being tarred with the "girly" brush: it's all right to like her, because she's not one of those writers, who care about feelings and whatnot. But that ignores the fact that a marriage to a wealthy man can still be a nightmare; the whole point of the relationships in Austen is that they are good ones, matches of temperament and esteem, not just money. Or as Schaffer puts it here:

Yes, Darcy is rich, but his wealth will do no good if he is a gambler like Wickham. Yes, Darcy is well-born, but his class will do no good if he uses his status to crush his wife rather than raise her. Yes, Darcy may be handsome, but his appearance may cover a vicious temper. Far more important than wealth, birth, and looks is a moral sensibility that can regulate these traits in a way that will benefit the woman who marries him.