Sunday, May 9, 2010


Jane Austen does not portray ideal representations of parenthood. Mothers and fathers in her books are never perfect and usually far from it. I could spend a great deal of time analyzing the function of ineffective or absent parenting in Austen, as many people already have, but it would not be in the spirit of the day. So instead I ask: if we pick and choose qualities amongst Austen's mother figures, could we not piece together just one lady quite worthy of the title Mama? She would be always supportive, like Mrs. Dashwood, and willing to go to great lengths to insure her family's well-being, like Mrs. Bennet. You could always depend on her for advice, like Lady Catherine, but like Lady Russell, she'll learn to accept that hers is not always the best. When far from home, she would be a dedicated correspondent, like Lady Bertram, and when ill, your best nurse, like Mrs. Jennings. She would be magnificent to behold but still thoroughly sensible, like the late Lady Elliot, and perhaps most importantly, like Mrs. Weston, would always consider you her picture of perfection. Happy Mother's Day!

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