Sunday, 6 March 2011

Jane Austen Quote of the Week 143

This week’s quote is taken from Persuasion, chapter 23 on the conversation between Capt Harville and Anne Elliot (Wentworth was writing THE love letter to Anne in the same room).

Capt Harville: “But let me observe that all histories are against you -- all stories, prose and verse. If I had such a memory as Benwick, I could bring you fifty quotations in a moment on my side the argument, and I do not think I ever opened a book in my life which had not something to say upon woman's inconstancy. Songs and proverbs, all talk of woman's fickleness. But perhaps, you will say, these were all written by men.”

Anne Elliot: “Perhaps I shall. Yes, yes, if you please, no reference to examples in books. Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything.”

Two centuries have passed by since Miss Austen’s era, and so many had changed in the way education is conducted in many countries. Many women now have the same chance of enjoying education like men, such that I have nothing but utter gratitude for my luxury. However, at the same time, in many places too remote culturally, emotionally or geographically from where I am now, so many women are still without proper access to education, and if they do, they might have to do that in fear that it will be cut short one way or another, usually from the lack of fund in the family (forcing the parents to choose only the boys in the family to go to school and leave the girls to help in the kitchen) or from the lack of security (Afghanistan is an example popping into my mind now, but not the only one for sure).

So here’s to the hope that one day, sooner than later, any girls and boys in every spot in this planet will have equal opportunities to enjoy education and hence better their lives.

Pic: Art by Hugh Thompson on the scene where Wentworth gave Anne his love declaration letter, from Heritage Image. The conversation between Anne and Harville took place before this scene.


Linda Fern said...

Strange that you should quote this right now, because just last night on NBC Nightly News there was a segment on women and eduction and jobs in America.

You can see the segment here on line:

I can verify that it is all true, because I lived through the changes. And soon it will be worldwide. Thanks, Icha.

Yrs aff'ly,
Linda the Librarian

Anonymous said...

How grateful I am to live in a country where I can CHOOSE to go to school (college) or not. I did for two years, then was able to get a job and then later on in life go back to school. It saddens me to think that while I can choose, so many females cannot. Not just because of money, but because they think that FEMALES SHOULD NOT BE EDUCATED!Is there a better way to keep a person down? The power of education is freedom and to some, that is unacceptable.
So sad...

Icha said...

I think in many countries, it's not only the lack of funding, but also social acceptance that women pursue higher degrees. I spent a lot of time in a beautiful place in Bali to do my research, and some women there (Balinese and Caucasian) were amazed that I did what I did. The Balinese wondered why I wasn't itchy to get married soon tho I was definitely of age. The Caucasians marveled at the fact that they met a Balinese woman who was (is) not afraid to pursue higher education and ignore society's demand on getting married at the age of 35+++

Up till now, I am not sure what to think. I'm proud in a way of my choice, but sad too that so many a young woman in that region actually think pursuing a higher degree as something weird.

Icha said...

Oh, just realised that yesterday (8 March 2011) was the International Women's Day. What a coincidence with last week's quote! Quite in synchrony, this year's theme is Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women.

RG said...

In North America, now 2013, the majority of those finishing high school, those going on to college, those completing graduate degrees are women.