Your Sunday Austen Meditation

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Church of AustenologyWelcome to the Church of Austenology (and happy Easter to those who celebrate). Here is today’s lesson:

The Musgroves, like their houses, were in a state of alteration, perhaps of improvement. The father and mother were in the old English style, and the young people in the new. Mr. and Mrs. Musgrove were a very good sort of people; friendly and hospitable, not much educated, and not at all elegant. Their children had more modern minds and manners. There was a numerous family; but the only two grown up, excepting Charles, were Henrietta and Louisa, young ladies of nineteen and twenty, who had brought from school at Exeter all the usual stock of accomplishments, and were now like thousands of other young ladies, living to be fashionable, happy, and merry. Their dress had every advantage, their faces were rather pretty, their spirits extremely good, their manner unembarrassed and pleasant; they were of consequence at home, and favourites abroad. Anne always contemplated them as some of the happiest creatures of her acquaintance; but still, saved as we all are, by some comfortable feeling of superiority from wishing for the possibility of exchange, she would not have given up her own more elegant and cultivated mind for all their enjoyments; and envied them nothing but that seemingly perfect good understanding and agreement together, that good-humoured mutual affection, of which she had known so little herself with either of her sisters.

This came up in the past couple of weeks in relation to an acquaintance who has what we consider an outsized ability to get what she wants (and sometimes stuff we want that she doesn’t) from other people, much of it in our opinion based on youth, looks, and personality. Said acquaintance is also a remarkably shallow person, concerned more with appearances and fortune than with intellect or meaning. We were stewing over a particular incident privately and then remembered this passage. Certain material things–fortune, luck, tickets to certain sporting events we wish to attend–might be showered upon her; but we would still not exchange with her. Thank you, Jane, for the lesson in perspective.

Here endeth the lesson.

4 thoughts on “Your Sunday Austen Meditation

  1. Catherine Pirie

    …and so we love Austen, all of us who feel secretly superior while overlooked by the public at large. Austen’s heroines always win out because of their inner qualities.

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  2. I remember this passage from my first Austenathon in High School, during which I started Persuasion after having vigorously read 3 Austen novels beforehand, and then I found myself burned out and didn’t finish the book. Shame! This meditation has reminded me of important unfinished work.

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