Tag Archives: Jane Austen

Noblesse Oblige and Jane Austen

484px-Jane_Austen_coloured_versionAlthough it’s not the main focus of Jane Austen’s Emma, the main character is portrayed as doing a great deal of charitable work in her town. Because of her fortunate financial and social status, she feels a sense of obligation to help those in need. The concept of noblesse oblige (translated from French “nobility obliges”) is at work; the idea that privilege is paired with social responsibilities. This notion is codified in the bible: “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” (Luke 12:48)

When attempting to dissuade Harriet from her interest in Mr. Martin, Emma says, “The yeomanry are precisely the order of people with whom I feel I can have nothing to do. A degree or two lower, and a creditable appearance might interest me; I might hope to be useful to their families in some way or other. But a farmer can need none of my help, and is, therefore, in one sense, as much above my notice as in every other he is below it.”

For Emma, at least, one can conclude her feeling of noblesse oblige has extremely specific parameters and limitations!

AGiftforLara_432I use this concept of noblesse oblige to motivate Lara Robinson in A Gift for Lara. She lives in a country manor, and is keenly aware of the needs of the poor. When Miles Greystoke comes to stay, they have a conversation about charitable works. To Lara’s dismay, Miles believes, “There will always be inequality and poverty, no matter what any of us do. I believe that much of our efforts toward the poor are wasted.”

Lara thinks Miles means he’s unwilling to even try. Therein lies the conflict. Noblesse oblige does not require the privileged to guarantee a positive outcome from charitable works—-only that a sincere effort be made. Will Miles make the effort to please Lara?

For my part, I think giving out of a sense of obligation is good. Giving from the heart is better. ~ S.G. Rogers

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Victorian Vise — Dilemma of the Newly Poor

448px-Sense_and_Sensibility_Illustration_Chap_12
“He cut off a long lock of her hair.”

In Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, the Dashwoods are cast into poverty when Mr. Dashwood dies. The home passes to his only son from a first marriage, and his second wife and three daughters are left to fend for themselves. The situation is all more tragic when one realizes English women of a certain social strata in that era did not work, and perhaps had few marketable skills even if they could. Therefore, women were almost entirely dependent on a male protector for their very survival. Throughout the Victorian era, very little changed. Society women were discouraged from pursuing any course of education other than “drawing room” skills such as music or singing, or artistic endeavors such as embroidery, painting, and the like. What happened to newly impoverished Society women if they had no relatives? If they were lucky, they could procure a position as a governess or companion. The unluckier ones might be forced into a seamier career in East End in order to eat.

Sense and Sensibility was one of the inspirations for Jessamine’s Folly. In the story, Jessamine is orphaned at fifteen, and her estate is entailed away from her to an uncle. Although the uncle agrees to let her stay, her aunt and cousin make her life miserable. When Jessamine is of age, her aunt forces her to look for work as a governess. A loyal servant knows of a position, but it comes with a catch:

Excerpt:

“My cousin Garfield is valet to the Earl of Kirkendale. He wrote me just the other day about the young lady of the house needing a governess, or companion more like, since Lady Amelie is turning eighteen soon. The thing is, no governess has managed to last at Knight’s Keep more than a few weeks.”

Jessamine blinked. “Is the girl difficult?”

“The problem might lie with the master of Knight’s Keep. Lord Kirkendale is Lady Amelie’s elder brother, and the Earl of Kirkendale since his father died. It seems no lass young enough to be a governess or companion to Lady Amelie can avoid falling in love with the man. He’s that handsome, says my cousin.”

“What a bunch of ninnies!” Jessamine exclaimed.

“Aye. Well, you know how impressionable young women can be. Anyway, Lord Kirkendale is looking to fill the post. It’s likely only a temporary position, however, until Her Ladyship makes a good marriage.”

“I think I can avoid falling in love until then,” Jessamine said.

ornament29Can Jessamine can avoid falling in love with Lord Kirkendale, or is taking such a position sheer folly? Unfortunately for Jessamine, she has little choice but to try.There is much to admire about 19th century dress, manners, and style but the cultivated helplessness of upper class women isn’t something I could easily accept. Fortunately, my time machine has never failed me yet. ~ S.G. RogersJessaminesFolly_432

A Toast to Jane Austen — Author Vonnie Hughes

Regency novels (novels set between 1811 and 1820, when the U.K. was ruled by a Prince Regent) are an immensely popular genre. Jane Austin is perhaps the best-known author of classic Regency fiction, but many modern-day authors write literature set in the Regency period as well.  Today, I welcome author Vonnie Hughes to Child of Yden as she tells us about her newest release, CAPTIVE

~ S.G. Rogers

Tagline:

When Alexandra Tallis sets free the attractive man her sister stupidly tried to hold captive, her actions lead not only to a love she never thought to find, but also to a horrific family secret that threatens that love.

BLURB:

When Alexandra Tallis discovers that her witless sister has imprisoned their father’s nemesis, Theo Crombie in their attic, she quickly frees him, fighting an unladylike impulse to keep him as her own special captive. Despite the brutal beating she receives from her father for her actions, Alexandra continues to yearn for the delicious Mr. Crombie even though she knows that nothing will ever come of her dreams.

Injured and shackled in a stranger’s attic, Theo unexpectedly discovers the woman of his dreams. But how can he pursue those dreams when her bizarre family’s complex relationships threaten the very foundation of his existence? Somehow Theo must find a way through this maze to claim his lady.

EXCERPT:

“Oh, no, Emmaline! Please untie him. Let him go.”

Whatever would her sister do next? At seventeen, she was an eligible man’s worst nightmare. And this latest escapade—

“Don’t be such a bore, Lexie. ’Tis a great joke! For once, Papa will thank us. Especially when he finds out who it is we’ve trussed up.” Emmaline laughed her silvery, seductive laugh that drove men wild and irritated women.

“Thank us? He is more like to beat us. You cannot capture someone and bring him here and…and just tie him up!”

“Of course I can. I already have. I shall lock the two of you in here together and then raise an outcry. Papa and the servants will come running and—,” she waved her pretty hands in the air, “—the rest will take care of itself. Papa’s investment problem will be solved, and with a bit of luck, you might even be married by next week, sister.”

“Are you out of your mind?” rasped an angry voice from the darkest corner of the garret.

“Ah, you’re awake!” trilled Emmaline.

Alexandra Tallis gulped. She was doing her best not to look at the near-naked man half-hidden in the shadows. But her eyes refused to behave. Stripped to the waist he was a wondrous sight, all muscle and taut sinew. His arms tensed and strained as he struggled to escape.

“Get me out of here,” he snarled.

Alexandra blinked and looked more closely, but her eyesight was not the best. She lifted a candle from the wall sconce and took a step forward. And another.

“You’re bleeding!”

He swivelled his head to look in her direction. “Sense at last. Yes, I’m bleeding. I’d be obliged if you’d free me from these bl—these ridiculous bonds.” There was a clank and rattle as he tried to move.

Gracious! Emmaline hadn’t just tied the man up—she had chained him. Alexandra closed her eyes for a few seconds.

“Emmaline! How on earth did you manage—?”

“Davy did it for me. Well, he would fight, so Davy had to subdue him.”

“What did that witless boy do? Shoot the poor man?”

“Yes, actually. He did,” the man muttered.

Bio:

Vonnie Hughes is a New Zealander living in Australia. She loves animals and jogging. Vonnie writes Regencies and romantic suspense novels along with short stories. She is presently working on a romantic suspense, working title: Innocent Hostage and a Regency novella, working title: A Tale of Two Sisters.

Her earlier book Coming Home is about a soldier and a nurse, thrown together during the Napoleonic wars, who find more danger on their return to England than they ever did on the Iberian Peninsula.

The Second Son is actually a prequel to Coming Home. A second son, filled with angst, stands to inherit a title and property through the death of a brother he has always loathed and mistrusted. A young disabled woman teaches him how to find his self-respect and how to love.

Another Regency Historical, Mr. Monfort’s Marriage, has businessman Matthew Monfort inveigled into marrying an earl’s daughter. With good reason he loathes the ton, so his new wife needn’t think she’s going to win him over, even though she’s quite delightful…and intelligent…and sweet…However Verity shows him that not all members of the ton are idle layabouts and that he can do much good with his largesse and with—shock, horror—the unexpected and embarrassing title conferred on him by Prinny.

All of Vonnie’s books are available on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Vonnie+Hughes&x=18&y=20

Learn more about Vonnie Hughes on her website http://www.vonniehughes.com and blog. http://vonniehughes.blogspot.com.au

Stay connected on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/VonnieJHughes and Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5605111-vonnie-hughes