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Jane Austen's Happy Endings
Over at Shalee is serving up Jane Austen over at her diner. She just read The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, and she loved it, and she thinks you will, too.

She says:

[It] is written from Jane Austen's perspective in the form of one of her undiscovered journals. It brings Austen to life through the use of past letters, known details and possible experiences that may have inspired her books.

James does an incredible job of making the book sound as if it were straight from the mind of Austen, while in no way making herself out to be Jane Austen the writer. James captures all that is best and true about Jane Austen. She satisfies on every score...except that perhaps of a happily ever after, for everyone knows that Austen never married. Even the hardest of readers will be caught and enchanted and praying for an ending that will not come.

Last week my husband and I watched the movie The Jane Austen Book Club, and I was pleasantly surprised. Basically five women and one guy get together to read each of Austen's novels. Meanwhile, their lives are all messed up, and they have to make some decisions of the heart themselves.

It's not a Christian movie, and there is a homosexual story line which is, in my opinion, completely unnecessary. It does nothing to advance the plot and was obviously put in there just to be politically correct. It's the other characters that are more interesting.

But here's what I liked. All of them were tempted to do things which would have messed up their lives even more--have affairs, never fall in love, divorce. And in the end, they all made the right decisions because that's what "Jane would have done". Stability, honour, dignity, love, were all things which were intrinsic to her writings. Giving in to temporary passions was an anathema to Austen, and in turn each of the women realizes it.

Now, here's what I really wanted to comment on. At the end of the movie one of the women whose marriage ends up saved is obviously pregnant. They don't comment on it, but it's clear she is.

Austen doesn't talk about babies. All her books end in weddings. She didn't know much about what happened after that, since she never married herself, and weddings were what she dreamed of. But in her brief epilogues it is clear that her characters did reproduce. Indeed, how could they not? That's part of the stability that Austen was aiming for: not marriage to live out one's passions, but marriage to be fulfilling, right, and stable. Stable for everyone--for the married couple; the extended family; the society as a whole.

And that's why to Austen I believe children are inseparable from marriage. They go hand in hand. This leads stability to our society.

That's what we're losing in the gay marriage debate. In my own country, in Canada, we've had gay marriage for a number of years now and I don't think it's going away. In the States, you have gay marriage in pockets, most recently in California. But here's the problem with it, as Frank Turek writes in his Townhall column,

This leads Blankenhorn to assert, “One can believe in same-sex marriage. One can believe that every child deserves a mother and a father. One cannot believe both.”

Blankenhorn is amazed how indifferent homosexual activists are about the negative effects of same-sex marriage on children. Many of them, he documents, say that marriage isn’t about children. Well, if marriage isn’t about children, what institution is about children?

And if we’re going to redefine marriage into mere coupling, then why should the state endorse same-sex marriage at all?

Contrary to what homosexual activists assume, the state doesn’t endorse marriage because people have feelings for one another. The state endorses marriage primarily because of what marriage does for children and in turn society. Society gets no benefit by redefining marriage to include homosexual relationships, only harm as
the connection to illegitimacy shows. But the very future of children and a civilized society depends on stable marriages between men and women. That’s why, regardless of what you think about homosexuality, the two types of relationships should never be legally equated.

I think this is spot on. The problem with Austen is that too often we believe she wrote only about love, but if you read between the lines what she's really writing about is one's responsibility to live up to a moral standard that lends stability. In each book there is a protagonist who epitomizes this--Elinor Dashwood, Elizabeth Bennett, Anne Elliott--and a character who shows the opposite--John Willoughby, Lydia Bennett, Louisa Musgrave. We are to be proper, and in Austen's books love comes to those endeavour to act appropriately.

It sounds boring that way, but it's true. And the happiest people, and the happiest society, are found among those who do play by the rules. That's the underlying theme of what she writes. And those rules are for everyone's betterment.

But right now we are throwing out those rules in the quest to "let love be the main thing".

Austen would have been horrified.

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At 4:47 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

I am from California Sheila. What I can't understand is why we had a vote on this a few years back and the people voted a marriage is between a man and a woman. Then all of a sudden the CA Supreme Ct can override?? Then they want us to vote again?? What happened to the first vote. Are we going to vote until they get the answer they're looking for?? Disgusting! Government is getting too disgusting...

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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