TTT: Jane Austen on That person you don't owe anything
Another Top Ten Tuesday and today's is a Valentine's Day freebie! This year though, I've got one for the singles. When you're not coupled-up there can be a lot of pressure to meet someone, and single women especially often get accused of being too picky or having unreasonably high standards. But as one Jane Austen lady put it "it ought not to be set down as certain, that a man must be acceptable to any woman he may happen to like himself." - in other words, if you're not feeling it, you don't owe them anything.
When you think Jane Austen, chances are that Mr. Darcy (possibly in the wet shirt) won't be far from your thoughts. But I also love the way she writes the not-so-enviable men. She clearly had standards (which is probably why she died single - but better than getting stuck with a Mr. Collins type) and she makes it very clear, as do her heroines, that you should never feel the need to settle for someone you know is not right for you. Or who you just... don't like that much. Below are a few of her characters that best prove the point (see also: Jane Austen's Frenemies and why she's the best at writing fuckboys). I know it's Top Ten Tuesday, but she only wrote six books, so six is all you're getting!
The one who only talks about himself
"Little as Catherine was in the habit of judging for herself, and unfixed as were her general notions of what men ought to be, she could not entirely repress a doubt, as she bore with the effusions of his endless conceit, of his being altogether completely agreeable."
The one who thinks you should be grateful
"It does not appear to me that my hand is unworthy of acceptance, or that the establishment I can offer would be any other than highly desirable [...] and you should take it into farther consideration that in spite of your manifold attractions, it is by no means certain that another offer of marriage might ever be made to you."
The ex who hurt you
"I felt that she was infinitely dearer to me than any woman in the world, and that I was using her infamously. But everything was then just settled between Miss Grey and me. To retreat was impossible."
The one who says you led him on
(or is snide-y about your friends)
"I need not so totally despair of an equal alliance, as to be addressing myself to Miss Smith!-- No, madam, my visits to Hartfield have been for yourself only; and the encouragement I received--"
Mr. Elton is the Jane Austen man that I most want to punch in the face. He sets his sights on Emma (out of his league) and then essentially calls her a prick-tease when she tells him she only thought of him for her friend (who, turns out, he thinks he's too good for.) He throws in that he couldn't care less whether her mate lived or died, and that 'everybody has their level'. Charming. Oh, and then he continues to be bitter and petty about the whole thing, even after he's married someone else. Mr. Knightly also points out that Elton acts totally different when he's with the other men than when he's around women - which is never a good sign.
The one your family and friends are backing
"I only mean that if Mr. Elliot should some time hence pay his addresses to you...I think there would be every possibility of you being happy together. A very suitable connection everyone must consider it - but I think it might be a very happy one."
In Persuasion Anne Elliot is courted by a rich guy with good chat who her family approve of and is due to inherit her family home. Perfect, on paper. But a) she's in love with someone else and b) there's something a bit off about him, although she can't quite work out what it is. He seems kind of fake. Turns out her instincts were good (he was sleeping with her dad's girlfriend and had conned her old schoolmate out of money) plus, her ex is back and she's not going to let her family mess it up for her this time. They may have had their reasons, but she knows herself better than they do, and they were wrong. And anyway, it's her life - she's the only one qualified to decide who she marries.
The one you know is all wrong for you
"We are so very, very different in all our inclinations and ways, that I consider it quite impossible that we should ever be tolerably happy together, even if I could like him. There never were two people so dissimilar. We have not one taste in common, We should be miserable."
Ah, Henry Crawford. If I were Fanny Price I would've given in after he shows up in Portsmouth and is charming with her embarrassing family. Also Edmund is boring and her cousin? But, I can still acknowledge that she made the right decision for her. Exhibit a: Once a cheat, always a cheat. Exhibit b: They have nothing in common and he doesn't really understand her personality. Exhibit c: She doesn't like him as a person - she thinks he's shallow and immoral and annoying. Exhibit d: She doesn't fancy him. Although everyone assumes she must find him attractive, he's just not her type and she doesn't get what all the fuss is about. Quite apart from the fact that she's in love with someone else, these should be reasons enough to knock him back.
Worst and best Jane Austen suitors? Who would you say yes to?