sweet jane blog

anonymous asked:

Do you think, if Bingley weren't in the picture and Collins was still focused on Jane, she would have accepted the proposal?

I do not.

Something that I think gets missed by a lot of Austen fandom, and Austen criticism, is that between Jane and Elizabeth, Jane is the romantic one. I imagine it’s largely because Elizabeth is contrasted much more sharply with Charlotte, and in that context Charlotte is the pragmatic one and Elizabeth the comparative romantic. (Elizabeth is also read as comparatively romantic by contrast to Darcy, which is… probably fair.)

But Elizabeth’s line about only marrying for love, recycled through adaptation after adaptation, is not in the book. The closest approximation—the line it seems to be based on—is do anything rather than marry without affection, and that’s not Elizabeth. It’s Jane. Jane is the one more easily carried away by love, but also the one for whom that love is simple, intense, and unwavering, by contrast to Elizabeth’s series of infatuations and complex, erratic relationship that does turn into love. I can’t imagine her feeling any degree of affection for Mr Collins.

Jane is also very strong-willed: we’re told that she is firm where she feels herself to be right. Elizabeth frequently tries to change her opinions, and never succeeds. The nearest she comes is Jane’s remark that she and Caroline can never be to each other what they were, but she independently changed her mind on the strength of overwhelming evidence, nothing else. She also always liked Darcy, and was unswayed by his initial insult to Elizabeth, chilly manners, Elizabeth’s vocal hatred, and Wickham’s account of his misdoings. Jane insistently defends him once Wickham’s story spreads in defiance of the uniform loathing of her community. So I also can’t see her succumbing to pressure.

Jane’s sweet, gracious personality overlying an iron will is really a bit tragic: tragic in its concealment, I mean. It turns out that Darcy likes her, or at least considers her an exemplary human being, while simultaneously believing that 1) she does not love Bingley beyond her general fondness of everyone, and 2) that she would accept Bingley’s proposal. The most likely explanation is that Darcy thinks she’d dutifully go along with her family’s wishes regardless of personal feelings—when in actuality, she would do nothing of the kind.