Key elements of (some) Jane Austen novels
With some exceptions. These elements are not strictly chronological, being arranged differently in different contexts. Inspired by @marginally_amazing 's hallmark movies list (predictability is not necessarily a metric by which art can be measured, it seems).
- •Deserving young woman (or women) is surrounded by flighty and undeserving friends and relations.
- •She has one or two allies but must either manage the poor behaviour of others or put up with being hopelessly undervalued.
- •There is a gentleman in the environs. For one reason or another there are significant obstacles to their match: poor behaviour of above mentioned flighty friends and family, differences in rank, misunderstandings, the passage of time, wounded pride. Hearts are broken or were broken long ago (in the case of Persuasion, for example).
- •There may be rivals for her heart or his. These often include untrustworthy but charming cads and still more flighty young women. Their affections are almost always shallow and selfish, but one or the other will fall under their spell nonetheless.
- •The young lady suffers some painful event or falls on hard times. The gentleman is either indispensable or quietly dependable in her difficulty.
- •This enables them to vanquish their differences and unite in matrimony, thus escaping the ill-behaved family and forming closer ties with their allies, as the lady has gained the independence necessary to choose more freely the companions of her leisure hours.
- •The young lady and gentleman emerge as the deserving champions of the narrative, their shallow and boastful co-characters paling in comparison. Their good characters are rewarded by good fortune and good standing.
- •Variations, in the case of Northanger Abbey and Emma: the young lady is rather undeserving herself, and is redeemed by others, rather than being herself the redeemer. This is the anti-heroine version.
- •In the case of Persuasion, the young lady is of use to the gentleman in his own moment of difficulty.
- •In the case of Mansfield Park, the young lady's suffering and the gentleman's help come much earlier in the novel. The same could perhaps be said of Sense and Sensibility.
- •Fascinating how so many stories are made up of the same moving parts. We'd probably find a lot of these in Morphology of the Folktale.
- •(I think this list is maybe proof that I am missing my uni years a bit much?!)