Friday, May 3, 2013

Best Of: Jane Austen and Proposals

 This was my first Reader Question that I answered. It came to me from Melody (who has been so good as to guest post during this week) who asked "Why exactly do you think Jane Austen didn't write proposal scenes in Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, and Sense and Sensibility?"

From the post: 
So, to answer the question directly, I think that Jane Austen didn't write a proposal scene for either Northanger Abbey and Sense and Sensibility because it simply wasn't necessary (it needed not to be particularly told). In Northanger Abbey and Sense and Sensibility, we as the reader know that Henry Tilney loves Catherine Morland (though she was kicked out of Northanger Abbey by General Tilney) and we know that Edward Ferrars, despite his engagement and supposed marriage to Lucy Steele, loves Elinor Dashwood. So, I think that by the end, we the reader can assume that if Henry Tilney or Edward Ferrars arrived to speak to Catherine or Elinor, that there could only be one reason why: to propose. There isn't a doubt in the mind of the reader that the hero holds a very, very high regard for the heroine, so there is no need to get into a lengthy proposal scene.

 God Bless,
God Bless, Miss Elizabeth Bennet


  1. Excellent points! This is something I've thought about rather often, as I read her books, and while I really would rather have MORE in the proposal scenes that do exist, I like your rationale for why some books don't have any scene at all -- that the readers could see it coming, it wasn't in doubt. Well done.

  2. I have to disagree. When we've been emotionally invested in characters and their journey to get together, we WANT to see a happy, emotionally satisfying proposal. It's one of the biggest - if not the biggest - quibble I have with Austen's stories. I felt cheated at the end getting nothing more than a few sentences of how they "got engaged, the end."


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