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Tuesday, 10 January 2017

'MANSFIELD PARK': RAIN IN JANE AUSTEN'S PLOTS

Jane Austen found rain very useful as an aid to plotting. Rain forcing her to shelter at the Parsonage makes a significant difference in Mansfield Park to Fanny's social life and causes her 'friendship' with Mary to blossom. Marianne Dashwood's emotional life (and near-brush with death) is stimulated by rain. Jane Fairfax is suspiciously defiant of rain. Sheltering from rain in Molland's of Milsom Street brings Anne Elliot into renewed contact with Captain Wentworth.

And of course, without rain, Jane Bennet would not have had such a good chance of consolidating her hold on Bingley (and - more significantly and ironically - Elizabeth Bennet would not have had such a good chance of unwittingly consolidating her hold on Darcy). 

Possibly rain was more than a convenient plot device: it could have been a ‘real life’ plot device, in the sense that it gave people (particularly women) a pretext for putting themselves into situations and to meet others in ways that propriety would not otherwise sanction. 

It is interesting that the last thing Jane Austen wrote (during the week in which she died) was also inspired by the heavy rains of the preceding days.