Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Jealousy and Austenian "accomplishments"

In her "New Yorker" article "Starting Fresh", on learning new skills as an adult, Margaret Talbot includes a reference to Jane Austen: "I started to think of these skills as 'accomplishments' in the way that marriageable Jane Austen heroines have them, talents that make a long evening pass more agreeably, that can turn a person into more engaging company, for herself as much as for others." Yet Emma Woodhouse's relative lack of "accomplishments" compared to Jane Fairfax is a matter of jealousy: "[...] she saw in her the really accomplished young woman, which she wanted to be thought herself." Thus, Emma's attitude towards "accomplishments" undercuts Talbot's positive take on acquiring "accomplishments". (Andrew Shields, #111words, 26 January 2021)


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