Jane Austen is the queen of satirical romances. Crack open one of her novels, and you can expect to watch the characters blunder around for a few hundred pages before finally stumbling up to the altar.
Despite all their missteps, we tend to love Austenian characters and relationships. They feed into the wonderful idea that opposites attract and that love can overcome all obstacles, even when the obstacles come from within.
But what if we take a different tack?
What if we assume that similarities, rather than differences, make for compatible couples? What if we decide to be a bit less forgiving of romantic blunders?
I decided to use these guidelines to remix some of Austen’s couples, beginning with…
Fanny Price and Colonel Brandon
Fanny Price (from Mansfield Park) is, undeniably, one of Austen’s sweetest heroines. She puts up with a tyrannical uncle, an aunt who treats her like a ragamuffin, and a whole nest of coquettes whose indiscretions keep her in a constant state of anxiety. Somehow, she manages to maintain a gentle yet discerning spirit through all this, and what’s her reward? An older first cousin who accepts her as a consolation prize when his favorite coquette degrades herself so much that she must be denounced.
Personally, I would rather see Fanny wind up with Colonel Brandon (from Sense and Sensibility), who is remarkable for his gentle lifestyle and his capacity for intense loyalty.
Elinor Dashwood and George Knightley
Elinor Dashwood (from Sense and Sensibility) is a shining example of selflessness, constancy, and practicality. Although her feelings run deep, she doesn’t allow herself to be carried away with them. Instead, she keeps her giddier friends (and frenemies!) grounded, sorting out numerous entanglements and protecting troublesome secrets for them. And in return? She gets a wishy-washy fellow who, “was not recommended to their good opinion by any peculiar graces of person or address. He was not handsome, and his manners required intimacy to make them pleasing.”
Personally, I would rather see Elinor with George Knightley (from Emma), a level-headed, deep-hearted man, described as “the truest gentleman in the country.” And let’s not forget his iconic line, “If I loved you less, maybe I could talk about it more.” Is that not perfect for Elinor?
Elizabeth Bennet and Henry Tilney
At risk of incurring the wrath of millions, I am going to go ahead and throw this out there: Elizabeth Bennet (from Pride and Prejudice) is known for her clever conversation, her dry sense of humor, and, above all else, her spunk.
Now, Darcy has many fine qualities–and yes, he does exhibit some get-up-and-go when his arch nemesis, George Wickham, appears on the scene–but can he really keep up with lively Liz?
I propose, as an alternative, Mr. Henry Tilney (from Northanger Abbey). Mr. Tilney is, from the start, a quick-witted character with a splendid sense of humor, just like Elizabeth. He also proves to be intelligent, kind, and, when crisis calls for it, a man of action.
Even if Elizabeth does marry Darcy, I hope she keeps a friend like Tilney around to banter with her when Darcy is in one of his…moods.
Emma–single for life!
Emma Woodhouse (from Emma) is a highly-independent young lady who is used to ruling her roost. Although she enjoys the companionship of several close friends, she is virtually aromantic for at least 3/4 of the novel. When she finally does fall for George Knightley, one has to wonder if she is truly in love or if she just fears losing a good friend to an “unworthy” woman.
Personally, I’d love to see Emma follow in the footsteps of Jane Austen herself and own the old maidenhood!
What do you think of these matches? Genius or sacrilege?
Who’s your favorite Jane Austen couple?
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