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Thursday, August 23, 2012

DOOMED SHIPS: a "colorful" Austen discussion

It's that time again, Janeites! Today we're talking about "doomed ships" - if you're on tumblr at all, you'll know "ship" is shorthand for relationship, and I want to know which Austen ships you think might just be heading for the rocks...which is appropriate, since some of these characters could actually be on doomed ships... *crosses fingers for Wentworth*
Don't forget to check out the rest of the Austen "colorful discussions" here:
and there's still more to come! Until then, make sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments!

I asked:
A lot of readers - as much as they may love the books - are bothered by some of the pairings (think Marianne and Brandon, or Fanny and Edmund); are there any Austen couples you think are going to have a rocky road ahead of them?

Answers from:
Juliet Archer in red
Alyssa Goodnight in orange
Jenni James in green 
Susan Kaye in light blue
Talia Vance in purple
and ME in pink 
Prepare yourselves for a another very...colorful conversation. ;P
*Please note, I've taken some minor liberties for the sake of flow... 

ME: Alrighty,  no matter how much you may love some pairings, and no matter how much it may just seem dead wrong to question Our Jane, I think our modern, logical selves must intrude on occasion to say "Those two? Really?"  Some just seem a little doomed from the outset. Any particular ships you see as ready to crash?
JULIET: Most of the ready-made couples that we meet in Jane Austen’s novels have marriages made in hell. A precious few seem to be happy – for example, Admiral and Mrs Croft, Mr and Mrs Morland, Captain and Mrs Harville, and Mr and Mrs Weston.
ME: Yes, they are all very nearly perfection - they give the characters something to aspire to, I think. And I guess the readers, too, since marriage for love wasn't really all that common, or even encouraged... But enough about the good ones... ;)
Juliet: Many secondary characters who marry during the course of the novels are doomed – think of the Collinses, the Wickhams, the Rushworths, and the Willoughbys. 
TALIA: It goes without saying that Lydia and Wickham are not a match made for the ages. They are two frivolous characters who will spend their lives making each other miserable, but at least they deserve each other. 
JULIET: A handful, such as the Benwicks and Mr and Mrs Robert Ferrars, appear to have better prospects.
SUSAN: [Actually,] James Benwick and Louisa Musgrove are my candidates for rough road ahead. 
ME: Yeah, I've always questioned that one, too. I mean, I didn't want to look at it too closely, because damn was it ever convenient, but...
SUSAN: Louisa eventually will return to her ebullient self and no longer be the delicate, damaged maiden that Benwick rescues with his poetry and tragic romantic back story. Louisa is somewhat a blank slate and with a Frederick Wentworth, she might mature into a well-rounded woman. Benwick is less elastic and, I think, prone to allow disappointments of the past to shadow everything in life. Eventually, that sort of personality darkens not only their life, but also the lives of everyone around them. I don’t see them happy once she’s fully recovered, though the romantic in me would love to see them influence one another for the better.
ME: Has anyone written a story about their lives together? Hmm...
JULIET: As for Austen’s heroes and heroines, we can only speculate about their chances of happiness. I have no worries for the Darcys, Bingleys, Tilneys and Wentworths. But I’m not convinced by the other unions – Ferrars, Brandons, Bertrams and, dare I say, Knightleys. Like couples today, it’s a bit of a lottery.
That’s why, in The Importance of Being Emma, I gave Mr Knightley a makeover. I wanted to create a man who would appeal more to modern readers – and to Emma herself who, with her independence and self-confidence, is a very 21st-century young lady. My Knightley is less of a father figure and more of a – well, you’ll have to read the book to find out
ME: As much as people really do love Knightley, I think a lot of people question that relationship... It's not even so much the age difference (because there were similar - and even greater - age differences in other 'ships), but the mentor aspect - Mr Knightley really almost is a father figure to Emma at times, or at the very least, a domineering older brother...
JENNI: I think Emma and Mr. Knightly will have the rockiest and most fun road ahead of them. 
ALYSSA: [They]  are likely to have a bit of trouble. I’m not convinced that Emma is reformed as a match-maker, and as such, is very likely to meddle again, probably to the detriment of everyone involved. 
JENNI: She is young and zealous and still learning about life, while he is quite steady and joyful, yet firm. Though she did well when he told her off during the book, I believe as she comes more fully into her own, there will definitely be some sparks that fly when he tries to stop her managing ways. 
ALYSSA: If he can keep her distracted, the Knightleys may, however, be just fine.
JENNI: I do feel it will be immensely entertaining and desirable for both.
ME: Hmm, so I think we're all in agreement about the Knightleys, but as Juliet mentioned, there are really quite a few potentially rocky relationships, not just among the minor characters, but even the major ones. I think the same things said of Louisa and Benwick can be said of Marianne and Brandon - she suffers this major disappointment, and she's still very young and very melodramatic. Is it safe to say that she's just playing defeatist in marrying Brandon, and that's it's going to come back to bite them both?
 TALIA: Marianne and Brandon is perhaps the relationship that bothers me the most. Marianne is so passionate, and it hurts my heart to see her settle for someone that she may respect, but cannot love.
ME: I feel bad for Brandon, too, because I think he a) may be a bit misguided - I wonder if he's projecting feelings on to Marianne, not for who she is, but who she reminds him of, and b) I like him, and think both he and Marianne deserve love, real love, and not settling.
But what do you guys think? Which ships are headed for stormy waters? Let us know, or defend your favorite complicated couples, in the comments!

Many thanks to Juliet Archer  Alyssa Goodnight  Jenni James  Susan Kaye  and Talia Vance!!

Click here to be taken to the Austen in August Main Page! Fab button artwork c/o Antique Fashionista!


  1. I definitely worry more about the Brandons than the Knightleys, not that I don't think the latter will have their share of fights because THEY WILL.

    Here's the thing: I felt like Maryanne settled for Colonel Brandon because she was so overwhelmed by all of the crazy that happened in her life. I just did not feel that passionate bond between them. They do like one another and respect one another, but I think some day she'll emerge from her shock, and she'll be in her prime and he'll be old, and she'll wonder how the frack she got there.

    Of course, he might die somewhat young and she could get a young, passionate, poet for the second go-round. Who knows. Wow. I feel like a jerk...

    The Bertrams may wake up one day, realize they're cousins and need a lot of therapy. Maybe not, though.

  2. I have a problem with the Brandons because I think Marianna settled so that never makes for a happy marriage. I also, had Edmund and Fannys relationship. I think he treated her like a toy or a pet. Something he could play with when he was in the mood too. I think that will end up caring on into their marriage.

  3. I agree with Juliet for the most part. Wickhams and Willoughbys are a given. I think Collins will be okay it's about priorities and business basically not love. I think my biggest worry would be the Bertrams. I don't more than friendship in their relationship scenario. I think Col. Brandon and Marianne could go either way. She was so very young but with a little maturity may appreciate his level-headedness (opposites attract). I think Col. Brandon has the still waters run deep thing and he is passionate but doesn't show it outwardly like M does. Knightley's are a bit of a worry also. Neither Ferrars couple gives me cause to doubt their ability to succeed.


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