There is a scarcity of men in general, and a still greater scarcity of any that are good for much.
Jane Austen. Now it may be a bit sad, that I am still entranced by this 18th Century writer, but be that as it may, it is true. Watching ‘Miss Austen Regrets’ it is intreiguing to see the single life she led, while writing so many romantic novels, outrageous for her time both in what she wrote and the fact that she was a female writer.
Her novels have inspired works such as Bridget Jones diary, which present her somewhat feminist message in a modern day setting. All her novels focus around one thing, marriage, and watching or reading such novels in present day setting makes you, or should I say “one” realise the stark differences between then and now.
Firstly there’s the dancing. And then there’s the way that women are not allowed to speak to a man, let alone spend time alone with him, unless they have permission from their chaperone or are accompanied. It draws my mind to a club scene. Where women are not dressed in ball gowns, far from it, they generally wear as little as is socially acceptable, sometimes even less! and men do not have to ‘request a dance’ with the woman they like, a rehearsed and structured dance, the sort of thing that looks ridiculous to our modern eyes!
And then there is the matter or marriage. From what I have seen, the women appear to have very little say in it, unless they are strong-willed and opinionated, as it seems Miss Austen was herself, in which case they were to remain single forever. I have also noticed the shortness of any ‘courtship’ in fact, it seems a man proposes possibly the second time they lay eyes on the woman they have chosen, providing she is not from a low-ranking family or too highly opinionated. Just imagine that in today’s setting… “I’ve seen you here before… get your coat love, you’ve found yourself a husband!” Crikey!
A lot of it appears to be about money. I’ve found Austen’s works seem to show the importance of marrying for love, most strongly in Pride and Prejudice, with the classic Mr Darcey stooping to the low level of Miss Elizabeth Bennet, a farmer’s daughter.
So is she right? are good men few and far between? If by ‘good’ she means rich, with a house as big as Buckingham palace and land as big as the National forest, then she may be right. I think Jane Austen manages to find something of the modern day man within her novels. And even more so, the modern day woman, not afraid to speak her mind and set out to get what she wants.
While I agree that the 18th Century woman is rather far behind then modern one, there is something exciting in the perusal from a man, but I am very glad that we don’t have to follow such strict rules in society! Jane Austen’s description of a man ‘not good for much’? well, lets just say that not many men would pass her estimations!
At the end of the day, while the balls and fancy meals could possibly look appealing, I am more than glad that I love in the 21st century. To be secure in that day was to have money, I definitely don’t have that, but at least in this day and age we can still be happy, we don’t have to marry the second we meet someone (and without divorces there would be even more people on the Jeremy Kyle show!) Nevertheless, I can’t help but notice the romance, not neccesarily of that era, but of the works of Jane Austen. It’s pretty sweet, really.