By Meenakshi Mukherjee (auth.)
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3), it conformed to Hannah More's guidelines. 14 Although the physical wholesomeness of the schont is mentioned, the teachers from this school, except for old Mrs Goodard, are conspicuously outside Emma's social circIe, 'BUT YOU KNOW, WE MUST MARRY' 45 even though the Woodhouses are so starved of company. Gentlewomen evidently fell from civilised society once they accepted paid employment. Mary Wollstonecraft, that extraordinary older contemporary of Jane Austen, tried out nearly all the means of earning money available to gentlewomen of her time.
But, when Charlotte Lucas in Pride and Prejudice presents her cold-blooded argument in favour of an economic and pragmatic consideration in marriage, she cannot be safely relegated to the category of a villain. We are expected at least to half-sympathise with a woman who, having neither beauty nor money enough to ho pe for a better establishment, has to settle for the ludicrous Mr Collins. 'I am not a romantic, you know', she teils Elizabeth; 'I ask only a comfortable horne' (eh. 22). Similarly ambivalent is Elizabeth Watson's rationalisation in The Watsons: 'I do not like marrying a disagreeable man any more than yourself - but 1 do not think there are very many disagreeable men; - 1 think 1 could like any good-humoured man with a comfortabie income, (eh.
Mary Wollstonecraft, that extraordinary older contemporary of Jane Austen, tried out nearly all the means of earning money available to gentlewomen of her time. After working as a companion to a rich woman in Bath, she set up her own day-school, a venture that ended in financial loss. Humiliated in her next job as a governess in Ireland, she returned to London determined to make a living by writing, a rare profession for women outside a smaIlliberal circle in London. Jane Austen, who never married, feIt the confining effect of adepleted income as she grew older.
Jane Austen by Meenakshi Mukherjee (auth.)