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Nora Bartlett

Published On


Page Range

pp. 63-76

Print Length

13 pages

4. Mrs. Jennings

  • Nora Bartlett (author)
Chapter of: Jane Austen: Reflections of a Reader(pp. 63–76)
This chapter focuses on Mrs. Jennings. Noted is the importance of the Austen family to Jane Austen's writing, as well as the expectations on her after her first novel was published. Bartlett examines the continuity between Austen's juvenilia and her later writing, particularly Sense and Sensibility. The first section is titled, "Books within Books", partly referring to Austen's juvenile writings—and how many of these very short “novels” were drawn together to achieve a long narrative such as Sense and Sensibility. Bartlett comments on how characters' stories in the novel are given ample space (another reference to “books within books”), particularly Mrs. Jennings. The next section is titled "Two Vulgar Women", where Bartlett examines the complexity with which Mrs. Jennings' character is depicted and developed—and contrasts her to Pride and Prejudice's Mrs. Bennet (and the style Austen uses to represent her). Bartlett explores Austen's writing: the capacity to retain a sympathetic sense of the existence of other people when not immediately confronted with them is of the highest importance to her. The final section is titled "The Vulgar Woman and the Lady: Two Matchmakers": a comparison between Mrs. Jennings and Emma, the vulgar woman and the born lady, both matchmakers. Bartlett explores how Mrs Jennings’ matchmaking is very different from Emma Woodhouse’s because it is founded in a realism about women’s aspirations, their opportunities and expectations. That is contrasted with Emma's selfish, ignorant, and unrealistic matchmaking. Finally, Bartlett comments on the end of Sense and Sensibility as it relates to Mrs. Jennings' matchmaking.


Nora Bartlett