Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Catherine Morland, Basic Character Information

Catherine Morland is Jane Austen's youngest protagonist. She is largely inexperienced, imaginative, and naive but overall a good person.

Basic Information: 

No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy would have supposed her born to be an heroine. - Northanger AbbeyAge: 17/18 for the main portion of the story, though the first chapter does summarize her childhood.

Primary Residence: Catherine lives with her family at the parsonage in the village of Fullerton in Wiltshire before her marriage. After her marriage she will live at the parsonage in Woodston. She spends most of the story in Bath, staying with Mr. and Mrs. Allen in "comfortable lodgings in Pulteney Street" and  visiting Northanger Abbey.

Spouse: Henry Tilney (at the end of the novel).

Parents: Mr. and Mrs. Richard Morland
Siblings: Catherine has nine siblings, three older brothers and six younger siblings including at least two sisters and one brother.

Physical Characteristics: The first chapter explains that as a child Catherine was very plain - she had a "thin awkward figure, a sallow skin without color, dark lank hair, and strong features[.]" As a child she also disliked cleanliness, probably connected with her love of boy's games and playing outside. However by age 15 her appearance began to improve and she took pleasure at hearing her parents remark that she looked almost pretty.

Personality Characteristics: Catherine enjoys activity, as a child she preferred playing cricket to playing with dolls and throughout the book she is shown enjoying walks and dancing. As opposed to the common literary conventions of the day Catherine does not appear to have any particular talents or genius. She enjoys reading novels but shows little interest in books of information. She does have a vivid imagination, which spurred on by her love of gothic novels does lead her into some mistakes and misadventure. She is however a generally kind and well-behaved young woman who is concerned about the people around her and believes in doing the right thing. At 17 she is still somewhat naive, and this naivety is taken advantage of by other characters but this seems in character with her youth and past experience growing up in somewhat sheltered conditions in a happy family.

What to call her:
  • Catherine - Catherine does not appear to have a nickname so she is Catherine to her family and close friends.
  • Miss Morland - Before her marriage, everyone else. Since she is the oldest daughter she will be Miss Morland instead of Miss Catherine Morland, the only possible exception being if there was some other Miss Morland (probably of higher social rank) to distinguish her from.
  • Mrs. Tilney/Mrs. Henry Tilney - After her marriage, everyone else. When they are in the company of General Tilney and/or Frederick Tilney (or his wife if he ever marries) she will be Mrs. Henry Tilney. However, due to the 20 miles separation between Woodston and Northanger Abbey and the rather unpleasant characters of General Tilney and Captain Tilney I would think they will not often be in their company.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Education of Boys in Regency England

There aren't many details on the educations of Jane Austen's male characters, but we do know that they are (generally) educated. Using what we know about a couple of character's educations, Jane Austen's family, and fleshing things out with some historical research I have come up with some conclusions regarding the educations of upper middle class and upper class boys in Jane Austen's time.

As with girls, there was no compulsory education and the options would vary based on parental preferences, interests, and financial resources. However, with my research and some clues form Jane Austen, a few trends do emerge.

Boys would generally begin their education at home - whether that home was their parents' or someone else's.[1] While girls were frequently home schooled for basically all of their educations, boys were much more likely to attend school of some sort, but this didn't necessarily mean they were attending the famous public schools of the era. Some families would chose to send their sons to men, like Jane Austen's father, who would supervise their educations.[2] This is the route chosen for Edward Ferrars in Sense and Sensibility, while his younger brother was sent to Westminster. Other boys may attend a local school as a boarder or day student or enter in to an apprenticeship or other career training program. For instance, two of Jane Austen's brothers entered the Royal Naval Academy at Portsmouth when they were each 12 years old and were both promoted to the rank of midshipman at age 15.[3]

Either way boys were frequently selecting, entering or being groomed for professions at rather young ages - even if you don't take oldest sons of large landowners into account.

As far as what the boys were learning, after a basic grounding in reading and writing, classical scholarship was a key part of the education of many young men,[4] particularly if they would be attending Oxford or Cambridge as those institution's curricula were based on the classics.[5] 

[1] Michael Brander. The Georgian Gentleman (Farnborough: Saxon House, 1973), 6-9.
[2] Deirdre Le Faye. Jane Austen: the World of Her Novels (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Incorporated, 2002), 81.
[3] "Charles Austen," last modified August 27, 2015. Wikipedia, (accessed October 5, 2015).
"Francis Austen," last modified October 4, 2015. Wikipedia, (accessed October 5, 2015).
[4] Jane Austen and David M. Shapard. The Annotated Emma (New York: Anchor Books, 2012), 127.
[5] Deirdre Le Faye. Jane Austen: the World of Her Novels (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Incorporated, 2002), 82-3.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Education of Girls in Jane Austen's England

Education, particularly the education of girls, gets referenced quite a bit in Jane Austen's novels. We are generally given an idea of how the heroine was educated as well as various other characters, when that information can tell us something about them. Jane Austen's interest in education and use of it to show us more about her characters makes sense as her father was, in addition to being a clergyman, an educator. The Rev. Austen, perhaps similarly to Sense and Sensibility's Mr. Pratt, took in pupils who would live with the Austen family during the time that he taught them.1

But what types of education were open to girls in Georgian England? The answer is both not much and quite a lot. There were no public schools, or mandatory school attendance which meant that every child's education would be a reflection of family attitudes, priorities, financial ability and general interest in that child's education. The heroine's of Jane Austen's finished novels all come from comparitively well-off families where they are all provided with some level of education, provided at home, at school or some combination of the two.

Home schooling was popular among Austen's parents and in real life Georgian/Regency England.2  It could be superintended by the parents themselves, as the Morlands do in Northanger Abbey and the Bennets in Pride and Prejudice, or by a governess, such as Miss Lee in Mansfield Park or Miss Taylor in Emma. In either case, the family might hire a "master" to teach their daughters specific skills such as music or drawing.

For those girls who went to school, that generally meant a boarding school of some sort as local grammar schools did not admit girls. These were not necessarily more academically inclined than homeschooling.3  Often girls went to school for some reason other than their education. Looking at Austen's school going characters, we can make some inferences as to why they went away to school:
  • Georgiana Darcy was an orphan with two young male guardians.
  • Caroline Bingley and Louisa Hurst were born into a family on the rise socially, and sending them to "one of the first private seminaries in town" may have been seen as a way to build good connections to further the family's rise while ensuring the girls were trained in the appropriate etiquette.
  • Harriet Smith is an illegitimate child whose father apparently cares enough about her to want her to be well cared for, but is not prepared to acknowledge her as a daughter.
  • Anne Eliot was sent to boarding school after her mother's death.
While Caroline and Louisa's parents inferred reasoning does have an educational bent, the education they would have received was likely to be focused on manners and etiquette rather than what we would consider to be education today.

As for what was taught, the answer was largely the same whether a girl was homeschooled or sent to boarding school. A teacher's diligence, knowledge, and interest-level may have some influence on the specifics, but in a world where there was serious debate over how much should be taught to women, the subjects available frequently remained rather confined. Girls would be taught the basic skills that were considered important to their future lives as wives and mothers. These topics included: reading, writing, penmanship, sewing, manners and etiquette, with additional masters to teach other accomplishments as needed. This doesn't mean that the girls couldn't become well-read on their own, and there were those who did, but it wasn't necessarily something to be encouraged.

Education in the late 18th and early 19th centuries was rather different from what we normally think of now, but one take away point is: that doesn't mean the parents didn't care. In many cases they were trying to educate their daughters to become well-rounded women of the time.


1  See: "Jane Austen’s Father: Reverend George Austen"
2  Deirdre Le Faye. Jane Austen: the World of Her Novels (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Incorporated, 2002), 87.
3 Joanna Martin. Wives and Daughters: Women and Children in the Georgian Country House (New York: Palsgrave Macmillan, 2004), 225-227.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Darcy's Income

Fitzwilliam Darcy's wealth is a topic of interest throughout Pride and Prejudice. It is originally reported at his first Meryton Assembly that Darcy has an income of £10,000 a year. Ten thousand pounds would have been a very impressive annual income at that time, in The Annotated Pride and Prejudice, David Shapard writes that this income "places him among the one or two hundred wealthiest men in England then."1 Shapard then speculates that Darcy's wealth may be three times or more that of Bingley's due to the other possessions that Darcy has inherited.2

Beyond that, there is another possible hint to the size of Darcy's fortune, in Chapter 16 when Wickham is describing his many misfortunes to Elizabeth at the Phillips' party he refers to Darcy's income as "[a] clear ten thousand per annum." As Wickham is the son of a former Pemberley steward, it is possible that this could be a hint that Darcy's total annual income is actually greater than £10,000. Assuming that Wickham is telling the truth and not exaggerating, I think that could mean Darcy's annual income could be £10,000 after taxes and the estate expenses that come from estate business (e.g. costs relating to farm buying and maintaining farm equipment and paying farm workers). What that means for the actual amount of Darcy's gross income is hard to tell. We don't have enough information. Taxes were considerably less than they are now in early 19th century England. The Complete Servant, a guide originally published in 1825, suggests that 12.5% of a large income should be budgeted for "Rent, Taxes, and Repairs of House and Furniture."3 If we assume that this amount should not be included in Darcy's "clear" £10,000, it would add approximately £1,250 to his purchasing ability.

It is also quite plausible, using The Complete Servant as a guide, to infer that as a single man the prudent and responsible Darcy could be saving a large amount of money every year. In the dedication, The Complete Servant states that "a respectable Country Gentleman, with a young family" had yearly expenses of £7,000 event though his net income was between £16,000 and £18,000 per year.4 This money could have provided some of Darcy's ability to pay off Wickham as quickly as he did. These numbers could also be helpful after Darcy's marriage considering that Elizabeth has little to no dowry, making it important for Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy to consider the question of providing for their daughters and younger sons, something that I think (or hope) they would be better at than Elizabeth's own parents.

1. Jane Austen, David M. Shapard, ed., The Annotated Pride and Prejudice. (New York; Anchor Books, 2007), 17.
2. Jane Austen, David M. Shapard, ed., The Annotated Pride and Prejudice. (New York; Anchor Books, 2007), 144.
3. Samuel Adams and Sarah Adams, Ann Haly, ed., The Complete Servant. (Sussex; Southover Press, [1825] 1989), 15.
4. Samuel Adams and Sarah Adams, Ann Haly, ed., The Complete Servant. (Sussex; Southover Press, [1825] 1989), 17.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Post link: Org Chart Confusion and the American Revolution

I sadly abandoned this blog some time ago but have recently made the decision to see if I can bring it back.

To start with I am going to share a blog post that I wrote for my law firm's blog:

This post was written for the Fourth of July and takes a look at how the lack of a clear government hierarchy in the British Empire contributed to the American Revolution. Please let me know what you think!