Friday, December 11, 2009

The Defense's Argument in Austen v. The World

Members of the jury, I offer here evidence that Jane Austen was not, in fact, a prudish stick-in-the-mud pre-Victorian spinster lady writer.  I strive to prove that Ms. Austen was in possession of a sense of humor that may be described as "subtly raunchy."  Below are two exhibits from Persuasion to prove this point.  The pertinent passages have been bolded for your convenience.

Exhibit A: Read first this description of Mr. Elliot, the villain of Persuasion, from Chapter Fifteen:

They were describing him themselves; Sir Walter especially. He did justice to his very gentlemanlike appearance, his air of elegance and fashion, his good shaped face, his sensible eye; but, at the same time, "must lament his being very much under-hung, a defect which time seemed to have increased; nor could he pretend to say that ten years had not altered almost every feature for the worse.
Members of the jury, now read Exhibit B, this scene from Chapter Nineteen, in which Anne Elliot and Lady Russell pass Captain Wentworth, the hero of the story, in the street:
"You will wonder," said she, "what has been fixing my eye so long; but I was looking after some window-curtains, which Lady Alicia and Mrs. Frankland were telling me of last night. They described the drawing-room window-curtains of one of the houses on this side of the way, and this part of the street, as being the handsomest and best hung of any in Bath, but could not recollect the exact number, and I have been trying to find out which it could be; but I confess I can see no curtains hereabouts that answer their description."
Ladies and gentlemen, is it a coincidence that Mr. Elliot is described as "under-hung" (which at the time also meant he had a weak chin), while Lady Russell is looking for the "handsomest and best hung of any in Bath" when Captain Wentworth is walking by?

The defense rests.

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