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h sofia

I'm so glad you brought that up, ballgame. That was the one thing I balked at in P&P - the fact that he was SOOOOO rich. I remember at one point being slightly uncomfortable that he had so much stuff he wasn't making any use of. Maybe I am just suspicious of people who are rich. It probably didn't help that I had seen a few years before the most recent version of Mansfield Park (which Austen purists seem to despise). While it wasn't as funny or good as the book, that adaptation depicted aspects of the source of wealth of these rich people - plantations in the West Indies and Americas. There was chatter on the Internet about this "liberty" the director (a woman I believe) took; people were seriously outraged that she would besmirch these characters by talking about slavery.

Anyway, stuff like that has always been problem for me in reading these kinds of books and even watching these kinds of movies: as much as I love them, where would I as a black latina woman have possibly fit into such a society? I can't really have a nostalgia for that era; it was not really mine and it probably would not have been so grand for me. Maybe that is why my favorite male hero is a broke, German immigrant professor who weds into a Transcendentalist abolitionist family of waning means.

The Happy Feminist

Well, ballgame, when you put it that way . . .

I admit my analysis (and romantic sighing) is based solely on the relationship between Elizabeth Bennet and Darcy without reference to the larger question of the unjust exploitation of others necessarily entailed by Darcy's wealth-- mainly because Jane Austen didn't reference it and I am judging the characters within the framework Austen provides.

I agree that Darcy is the ultimate patriarchal male in the sense that he is privileged by the hierarchical, patriarchal system in which he lives. And, of necessity, given the strictures in which Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet live, Darcy is always going to be more powerful than she is. But when you look at just the relationship between Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, it is a relationship between equals regardless of what their external circumstances mandate. It's that interaction between their personalities that is compelling and that one imagines transferring to the modern world.

I want to stress that my romantic sighing has NOTHING to do with romanticizing the dreadful era in which Austen lived. I made the point in my prior Austen post that it is foolish to romanticize this time and place because despite all the pretty manners and pretty clothes, it was awful for women except perhaps for those rare few of independent wealth. And it was certainly a brutal era for black men and women.

Unfortunately, most of the classic European literature we're stuck with tells stories within the confines of a patriarchal and racist system. But I don't believe in throwing the baby out with the bathwater, but rather in picking out those positive aspects that we can identify with and carry into the modern world.

Kelly

You hit it exactly. Good job! And also you get special props for nodding to the fact that some lesbians (like me) might love Mr. Darcy too (like me!)

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