Monday, June 22, 2009

6 of 6, or Austen Again

And Elinor gets her bumbling Mr. Ferrars in the end. Sigh.

My delicious treat of an Austen marathon is complete. Delights, they abound.

And because I apparently have turned my blog into a plug for Keith Law's blog I am going to offer a counter-point to his number 3. Now, any Austen is better than no Austen at all but I think we all remember that Emma is my least favorite. Obviously KLaw and I disagree but my point of contention is not with our varying book tastes. But I'm not so sure on that character development thing. I would agree that Emma is the most changed of any Austen character by the end of her novel but I don't see character development as only being reflected in how the character itself develops. I think the author developing a character with whom the Reader can empathize is an equally impressive and useful skill. This I think Austen has in spades.

If you've read any Austen then you probably already know that any character's, er, character is pretty much established within a couple pages of meeting them. Often there are misunderstandings that lead to the Reader being in the dark about some aspect of a character (behold the mighty power of the romance formula) but that's about as subtle as it gets. But each character is fully developed in her/his self. By this I mean that in all situations presented the character is always the character. They don't go off willy-nilly in some direction you would never expect of them. They are entire, complete and ready to face any situation as themselves.

And let's face it, most of the action of Austen's novels occurs over a very short period of time and involves a bunch of people without real jobs that are only looking to get married; how much changing development can you get?

Hmmm, interesting...sarcasm aside I pose this question in earnest. How much development, as in a change in the character as they grow with circumstances, can authentically happen in less than a year with a very limited circle of existence?

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