Happy Birthday, Jane Austen

Interesting, to me, that Jane Austen wrote such empowered female characters 200 years ago, more empowered than some authors writing today—even/especially woman authors.  In the following excerpt from Pride and Prejudice (1813), Elizabeth stands up to the wealthy and powerful Lady Catherine so bravely speaking her truth, insisting on her right to independent judgement and happiness, without a minced word spoken.

“Unfeeling, selfish girl!  Do you not consider that a connection with you, must disgrace him in the eyes of everybody?”

“Lady Catherine, I have nothing farther to say.  You know my sentiments.”

“You are then resolved to have him?”

” I have said no such thing.  I am only resolved to act in that manner, which will, in my opinion, constitute my happiness, without reference to you, or to any person so wholly unconnected with me.”

“It is well.  You refuse, then, to oblige me.  You refuse to obey the claims of duty, honour, and gratitude.  You are determined to ruin him in the opinion of all his friends, and make him the contempt of the world.”

“Neither duty, nor honour, nor gratitude,” replied Elizabeth, “have any possible claim on me, in the present instance.  No principle of either, would be violated by my marriage with Mr. Darcy.  And with regard to the resentment of his family, or the indignation of the world, if the former were excited by his marrying me, it would not give me one moment’s concern – and the world in general would have too much sense to join in the scorn.”


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