I love the work of Jane Austen and I am not alone. Each of her books has been made into movies that are enthusiastically awaited and greeted. Emma is currently being shown on public television on Sunday night at 9. My women friends are ensconced on Sunday night in front of the TV for the latest reenactment. Oh, you say the Super Bowl is on Sunday. Emma!
That said what I find odd in this enthusiasm for her work is she was making sharp, satiric social statements. She knew poverty. She knew very well why a woman had to marry "well," and what it meant when she didn't. I think her biggest statement though was that the "wealthy" had a "duty" to care for the "poor." Mr. Knightly is admired because he cared for his estates and the people on them. He respected intelligence and hard work. He was a true gentleman and she tore apart those who strutted their vanity and paraded their fortune at the expense of those beneath them.
How can we have a nation so in love with the work of Jane Austen and yet voting against her point, and I need to remember that the elections are not as lop-sided as they seem. I don't know why the Democrats are running for cover but I think we need to go back to our literature, to the classics, for the ideals we admire. Look at Dickens. He knew personally what it was like to have his whole family thrown into prison because his father couldn't pay his debts. His books aren't exaggerations. He wrote what he knew, what he saw, what he lived.
Tolstoy was a man of wealth, and he questioned it. Our great literature, our art, asks us to look at all sides, but always to lean down and lift up. I don't believe in absolutes, but I think the classics, ask us, beg us, to look at the whole of human life.