The April A to Z Blogging Challenge is a month-long event where I, and more than 2000 other bloggers, will post every day of the month (except Sundays) using a different letter of the alphabet. The theme of my posts will be “What I Love About Pride and Prejudice.” Click the link above or the A to Z badge in my sidebar to visit other participants.
J is for Jane Bennet
[Elizabeth to Jane] “With your good sense, to be so honestly blind to the follies and nonsense of others! Affection of candor is common enough — one meets it everywhere. But to be candid without ostentation or design — to take the good of everybody’s character and make it still better, and say nothing of the bad –belongs to you alone.” –Jane Austen Pride & Prejudice
Jane is the oldest Bennet sister and considered the real beauty in the family. It is her good nature that also wins her marks from her family and friends. Elizabeth once said to Jane, “You never see a fault in anybody. All the world are good and agreeable in your eyes. I never heard you speak ill of a human being in my life.”
Of anyone in the book, Jane Bennet is the good girl. She is reserved, compliant, non- flirtatious and sensible. Jane does not brag or complain. This is exactly how a female in the 1800s is supposed to behave. By not being overly dramatic or making it known she’s in love with Charles Bingley, Jane can keep her standing in the community, and that of her family, intact.
It is also these tendencies that get her into trouble when it comes to marrying Charles Bingley. Her good natured attitude towards everyone doesn’t single out anyone as a favorite. Early in the story Charlotte Lucas, Elizabeth’s dear friend, points out that if Jane likes Bingley she should show it – “If a woman conceals her affection with the same skill from the object of it, she may lose the opportunity of fixing him.”
Later one of the things Darcy has to reconcile with Elizabeth is that he didn’t understand Jane’s true feeling towards his friend. “Your sister I also watched. Her look and manners were open, cheerful, and engaging as ever, but without any symptom of peculiar regard … the serenity of your sister’s countenance and air was such as might have given the most acute observer a conviction that, however amiable her temper, her heart was not likely to be easily touched. That I was desirous of believing her indifferent is certain—but I will venture to say that my investigation and decisions are not usually influenced by my hopes or fears. I did not believe her to be indifferent because I wished it; I believed it on impartial conviction, as truly as I wished it in reason.”
As a protagonist, Jane would be mind numbingly boring. She’s no real favorite with anyone, save Bingley and Elizabeth. Even with her perfect behavior she can only muster up second favorite to Elizabeth in her father’s eyes and to Lydia in her mother’s (they each prefer the girls with more spirit, as do we all). If she wasn’t so earnest, doe-eyed and naive we’d probably hate her.
Because Eliabeth and Jane are so close, Elizabeth always knows where her sister’s heart lies. Jane’s reserve means that no one else does. It’s through these misunderstandings that Jane provides more tension between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth. If for no other reason than this, I love Jane Bennet.
What are your feelings on Jane Bennet? As a writer, would you ever give a character YOUR NAME? Please let me know your thoughts.
P.S. — This post-script post has nothing to do with Pride & Prejudice, though it does have a J theme. In appreciation for the inspiration he provided to a dear friend, I want to thank U.S. Olympic ice skater Jason Brown for being not only a great athlete but a great person. To quote this young friend, “Jason Brown Rules!“
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