P.D.James on the mothers in Jane Austen’s novels

In the latest edition of the Spectator, P D James reveals she has been “indulging in my annual re-reading of Jane Austen and it has struck me – strangely for the first time – that not one of her five heroines has a satisfactory mother”. I think she’s excluding Emma because her mother doesn’t appear.

She then expands on each of the mothers before concluding that “each of the novels has the same basic plot, the story of a virtuous and attractive woman who overcomes difficulties, including the lack of a mother, to win the husband of her choice. In other words, Mills and Boon written by a genius”.

I’ll photocopy the full article and bring to the next meeting. It could form the basis for a future discussion.


5 Responses to P.D.James on the mothers in Jane Austen’s novels

  1. Cinthia says:

    I think she’s excluding Emma because her mother doesn’t appear.

    And Anne Elliot’s mother too. Because the Austen heroines are 7: Catherine Morland, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood (2 heroines in 1 novel), Elizabeth (Lizzy) Bennet and Fanny Price, and all their mothers appear in the novels. However Emma’s and Anne’s are dead and they are described as excellent ladies.

  2. Thanks for posting this, 11elsey! We had a great discussion on mothers in our early days. I’ll try to suss out some of my notes and post them here. Anyhow, it would be good to discuss her summation wouldn’t it?

    Also, I think we can discuss not only mothers in this light but fathers, don’t you?

  3. 11elsey says:

    The fathers are indeed fascinating depictions too. Lets discuss parents in general and then we can include the Musgroves for instance.

  4. Kerstin says:

    Hey everybody.

    My name is Kerstin and I´m from Germany.

    I study English Literature and I write an PhD thesis on Jane Austen and the ´mothers´. That´s why I would really like to read this article (P.D.James on the mothers in Jane Austen’s novels). Is there any chance that one of you could help me?

    Best regards..

  5. Kerstin. The article is in The Spectator magazine, presumably, in January or early February. I think you would need to ask your university (or local) library about accessing that journal. It’s probably available via an electronic journal database.

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