The Jane Austen Social Scene Part IX: Marriage and Friendship


(Photo source:

Emma Woodhouse and Miss Taylor. Elizabeth “Lizzy” Bennet and Charlotte Lucas. What do these pairs have in common? They each represent a pair of Jane Austen characters whose friendships were altered when one of them married. It then became Emma Woodhouse and Mrs. Weston. Elizabeth Bennet and Mrs. Collins.

One of the motifs of Austen’s novels is that of marriage. I would argue that a more specific theme would be how marriage alters friendships between female characters. Regardless of whether or not the marriage is to a likable character, such as Mr. Weston, or to a not so well liked character, such as Mr. Collins, the institution of marriage impacts the friendship and usually in a way that weakens it. Look at Lizzy and the former Miss Lucas: sure, Lizzy visits her friend and new hubby at their home, but Charlotte is no longer the friend Lizzy could confide in and gossip to at the beginning of the novel.

Austen’s observations regarding marriage and friendship ring true today. In getting married, the woman takes on the additional identity of someone’s wife, a role society promotes with traditional connotations. In other words, in marrying, the spouse is expected to become the priority while pre-existing relationships take a back seat. It’s no wonder that when Harriet Smith tells Emma about Robert Martin’s initial marriage proposal, Emma’s reaction is to persuade her friend to turn him down; in her eyes, she’s already lost one friend to a marriage, and she’s not about to lose another.

Does putting a ring on it mean putting an end to a friendship? Not necessarily. But it does mean that the friendship will not be the same as before.





Project Thankful: Reason #178

Today, I received an “I’m here for you” card in the mail from my friend.  The message on the card was beautifully written, but it was what my friend wrote that was more powerful and meaningful.  

“I’m thinking of you and your family during this time of uncertainty.  Whenever you need anything, day or night, please give me a call.  I hope things get better soon.”

I feel like words such as “thankful” and “grateful” do not fully encompass how much I appreciate my friend’s acts and words of kindness.  If there were a scale for friendship, she would rank as Stellar because it’s a true friend who possesses the ability to know exactly what to say and exactly what to do to make you feel better.  

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to express the extent of my appreciation for my friend.  For now, let me just say thank you.

Project Thankful: Reason #170

I told one of my friends yesterday about how I’ll be moving to New Hampshire, and they were less than supportive.  “And how are you going to afford this?” was their response.  I had told another friend of mine about the decision to attend the college in New Hampshire over one in Boston I made and how hard it was deciding, and her response was, “Yeah.  And the Boston one would be cheaper.”

How a person reacts to news of something major in your life tells a lot about them and about the quality of friend they are.  And if they’re worth keeping in your life.

I think the most upsetting thing about my friends’ reactions is what they implied.  Money is a concern for most people, but in phrasing it as they did, they implied that I couldn’t afford it and/or I wasn’t being smart about money.  It’s one thing to be bitter, to be jealous, to be sad, but it’s another thing entirely to cross a personal line.  And that’s exactly what they did.

So why am I blogging this post under “Project Thankful”?  Well, I look at it this way: I’m grateful for this experience for showing me that I should have no hard feelings leaving those people behind when I move away.  And for allowing me to turn the characters in my novels who they inspired into villains.  

Writing is one of the best forms of revenge.

Project Thankful: Reason #163

On June 26, 2012, I underwent a colonoscopy and endoscopy to determine what was causing my intense abdominal pain.  That was the day my doctor discovered that I have Celiac Disease, and two weeks later at my follow-up appointment, I found out the diagnosis in person.

My life completely changed as soon as I found out I have Celiac Disease.  It’s not just about changing your diet; it’s about changing your lifestyle.  And that includes re-evaluating who is really worth having in your life.

I’m lucky to have friends who are very sympathetic towards my Celiac Disease.  They ask how I’m doing, dealing with it, and demonstrate an interest in learning about Celiac Disease and how it impacts me.  They are careful when we go out to eat, calling ahead to make sure a place has gluten-free options and/or alerting wait staff to the fact that I can not eat gluten.

Then there are the friends who don’t get it and choose not to get it.  They don’t ask how I’m dealing with it, their expressions make it visible that they don’t want to hear about it, and they just don’t look out for me when it comes to being gluten-free, such as not having gluten-free something available for me when I go over their house.  The kicker?  They live right down the street from a Whole Foods.

I’m at a point in my life where I’m moving forward.  That means reflecting on the people who deserve to be in my life, preserving the relationships with people who have shown they care, and slowly leaving behind those who don’t.


Project Thankful: Reason #142

Last night, I caught up with a friend.  It’s not always easy to schedule time together with our schedules, so any chance to spend a day together is a treasure.

One of the things we talked about was about my dad losing his job.  In a recent post, I talked about how you can tell who really is there for you by how they react to news of a crisis.  My friend didn’t try to change the subject when I brought up about my dad, or about the effects it has on my family and me.  Instead, she listened.  Genuinely, actively listened.

She was there for me.  And as we left, she told me how I can always reach out to her to talk.  And she meant it.


Project Thankful: Reason #137: The Illusion of Anonymity

I didn’t think any of my friends read this blog.

For that reason, when I made the decision to share my experiences in the aftermath of The News (my dad losing his job), I thought I would post as I always do, thinking that, in a way, my posts would be anonymous because I’m just one of many millions(?) of bloggers out there on the web.

What I didn’t expect was for one of my friends to come across my postings.  Mainly because most of my friends don’t really know that I’m a blogger.

So when I received a text message from my friend who was very concerned about what had happened, I was taken back.  A part of me said, “Crap!  She knows!  She KNOWS!”  More than that, I was relieved.  “She KNOWS!”  And by her knowing, it helps because I know she’s there for me, and I can talk to her.


Project Thankful: Reason #83

Well, I didn’t win Powerball last night.

I woke up this morning, looked up what the winning numbers were, and knew that those numbers were not my numbers.  Not even close.

To me, I’ve won the lottery already.  Even though my bank account is on the small(er) side, my life is rich because I am surrounded by love.  I’ve seen an unfortunate number of people who can’t say they have people in their lives who truly love them and care for them; I am lucky to say I do have people who love me and care for me.  An enormous lump sum of money could never replace that love.  It’s love that enriches my life, not money.