Saturday, 26 July 2008

Jane Austen Quote - Week 14 by Linda

This helpful quote is from P&P, Chapter 56:

“You may ask questions which I shall not choose to answer.”

Here is the context for that gem. Lady Catherine is trying her utmost to get Elizabeth to deny that there is an engagement to Darcy:

"And can you likewise declare, that there is no foundation for it?"

"I do not pretend to possess equal frankness with your ladyship. You may ask questions which I shall not choose to answer."

“This is not to be borne! Miss Bennet, I insist on being satisfied. Has he, has my nephew, made you an offer of marriage?"

"Your ladyship has declared it to be impossible."

Once again, Jane has given us a treasure. I only wish I had known that I had the right to dismiss unwanted questions in like manner. I could have never been so rude as to not answer a direct question. This has been my problem for ages since I was not taught in school nor learned by nurture that women should be treated as rational beings and have their person respected in all things.

Much to my dismay, I learned that lesson too late in my life and the damage had been done already. I could have been spared grief, and all the synonyms that accompany it such as remorse, anguish, pain, sorrow, misery, unhappiness, shame, suffering, and regret. That should give you a fairly good picture of what comes of being an obedient daughter and wife rather than using one’s own better judgment. Total, unreasoning obedience makes one into a 'doormat' which other people use to 'wipe their feet on' when things in their life go wrong or they are in a bad humor.

If you want a real eye-opener, read John Stuart Mill’s essay on “The Subjection of Women” that I recently stumbled into. You can read it here: The Subjection of Women

Read it and weep. I think Mr. Mill and his wife bear some looking into.

Linda the Librarian

Pic 1: Keira Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen from: Working Title Films
Pic 2: Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth from: Geocities
Pic 3: Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth from: BBC

1 comment:

Rachel said...

I have just had a chance to read some of the long but brilliant 'The Subjection of Women'- wow!
The line:
" it had been decided, on the testimony of experience, that the mode in which women are wholly under the rule of men, having no share at all in public concerns, and each in private being under the legal obligation of obedience to the man with whom she has associated her destiny, was the arrangement most conducive to the happiness and well-being of both;"

Arent we sooo lucky ladies that Jane Austen contributed to the change which has slowly and progressively taken place over the last 200 years in the direction of gender equality?!

Also, that is quite a set of synonyms dear Linda...."remorse, anguish, pain, sorrow, misery, unhappiness, shame, suffering, and regret."

I do hope we can all learn something from this.

Thank you so much for the quote.