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Apparently there isn't a place for talking about Austen's books yet, so I thought I'd start something.

What is everyone's opinions on the extreme age differences of some couples in Austens' works?

They make me a bit uncomfortable when I think about them. (To be honest, I usually just try and not think about them, whenever possible.)

Sense and Sensibility is one of my favourites, and it is rather hard to ignore there.

Apparently there isn't a place for talking about Austen's books yet, so I thought I'd start something. What is everyone's opinions on the extreme age differences of some couples in Austens' works? They make me a bit uncomfortable when I think about them. (To be honest, I usually just try and not think about them, whenever possible.) Sense and Sensibility is one of my favourites, and it is rather hard to ignore there.

19 comments

Has anyone read Northangar Abbey? I thought the main character's obsession with scary ghost novels was hilarious.

I think they reflect the class and times of Austen's characters. Men without inherited wealth couldn't marry till they were quite mature because they couldn't afford yet to support a wife and family, and they were unlikely to marry someone who brought a lot of money with her. Conversely a man with wealth who didn't marry till older might reasonably be seen as someone who has finished his wild bachelor days and is at an age and stage where he's ready to settle down.

Conversely the women of Austen' s world have marriage as a primary goal, usually, and they are seen as most desirable when young and fertile. This is also the best age to leverage looks when you dont have money.

So, most.men would not be marriageable till 30 anyway. But super.top quality rich titled ones might not marry till their 40s because they don't NEED a wife - for money or anything else. Thus, winning such a man would indicate that you're so great that he has fallen in love with you for your qualities alone, and not JUST fertility and prettiness because he could have had that a thousand times over. These older men might also appeal from Austen's point of view because you can benefit from their life experience.

Eh, you still need an heir and wouldn't want to die in an accident or war without producing one.

I really didn't like the pairing of Marianne and the Colonel. I don't think they will be happy. Too bad Willoughby was such a cad. But Marianne is the original Manic Pixie Dreamgirl.

I think it reflects the time and class stratification.

Men who were not born with titles, not in the peerage book, or in trades were frowned up.

A good way to make a fortune, was to inter service in the Navy. I think Alan Rickman's character, shows just how long it took to amass a fortune and buy an estate.

I think back then, these age differences were seen as acceptable. Remember women didn't have a whole lot of options. Making a good financial match, was seen as fortunate.

Remember that whole conversation between Elizabeth and Charlotte she was fortunate and settled. (Pride and Prejudice)

Lucy? Don't you mean Charlotte?

Absolutely, it was how things worked in that society, but it still does tend to make me uncomfortable. The only reason, I think, why I can tolerate it is because the books are written by a woman, and the me are not portrayed as the kind of creep who'd go after younger women especially to prey on their naivety. (Well ... the heroes, anyways. The villains do that.)

I’m thinking Colonel Brandon (Alan Rickman) or Mr Collins (David Bamber), no contest even if they both had fortunes! 😆

I always like Charlotte saying how content she is that she manages not to see Mr Collins at all for most of the day.

I confess I’ve only seen Emma Thompson’s film of S&S, but even when Brandon was played by Alan Rickman, it made me uncomfortable, too.

I really liked that movie, and thought it was rather close to the book. Alan Rickman was, I think, even older than Brandon was supposed to be, but he played him very well.

Ah, I wondered if he was the right age!

Seems to be if you could get Alan Rickman you didn’t worry about age discrepancies (Snape, anyone?).

Heh, yes. If you can get Rickman, you get Rickman, age differences be damned, it seems. Brandon was supposed to be over 35, not sure if it was ever specified how much, but I assume just barely.

I was a bit amused at how similar the two roles were. What with him being secretly one of the good guys as Snape, and in Sense&Sensibility, he ruins everyone's fun by suddenly leaving on some secret business, and then it turns out it is all Willoughby's fault and Brandon is the good guy. Plus, both roles give him a woman whom he loved, but never got to marry, and who is dead.

The times in Harry Potter when Snape wasn't actively insulting someone, like the scene where he heals Malfoy, I was, for a moment, like "What is Colonel Brandon doing here?"

If you are an Austen fan, I recommend reading Becoming Jane Austen by Jon Hunter Spence.