Thanks for welcoming
back to My Jane Austen Book Club to talk about An Affectionate Heart!
leader. Old maid. These are Georgian-era words that could have been applied to
women like Miss Bates, Elizabeth Elliot, Charlotte Lucas, and the Parker
sisters. The insulting idea of an older, unmarried woman surrounded by cats
isn’t a new one. Although she’s only 21, Elizabeth Bennet in An Affectionate
Heart is another poor, unmarried woman with little agency over her own
As Emma Woodhouse
tells us, if you’re an heiress it’s not so bad to be single, but if you’re poor
like Miss Bates you practically deserve to be ridiculed. There was intense
social prejudice against unmarried women and few respectable means of
employment for the women of this class. Aside from all the typical reasons to
marry, many women felt a duty to their families to marry to relieve them of the
burden of providing for them.