Plain Jane: “I do not think I ever opened a book in my life which had not something to say upon a woman’s inconstancy. Songs and proverbs all talk of woman’s fickleness. But perhaps you will say, these were all written by men.”
-Jane Austen in Persuasion
After I read this quote I began to think of what Jane has to say of the constancy of her heroines. While she doesn’t necessarily say that they are inconstant, Jane’s heroines often are assisted into a greater knowledge of themselves by the men in their lives: Mr. Knightley shows Emma she is selfish in Emma, Captain Wentworth shows that he is willing to forgive Anne Elliot and love her though she first scorned his love because he was of a lower birthright in Persuasion. In Sense and Sensibility, Colonel Brandon patiently waits for Marianne Dashwood to discover the difference between passion and true love and is there to pick up the pieces when she follows the wrong man. And, Henry Tilney helps Catherine Morland learn that the overblown themes of novels have no place in real life in Northanger Abbey. Tilney is ready to forgive and love Catherine despite her foolishness. Of course, all these men have their own issues that the ladies at times forgive and forget, but while Jane deposed male writers for their mistreatment of the feminine sex, it seems she had a rather wary eye for them too!