Ever wonder where an artist may hide themselves within their work? In some cases, it’s pretty obvious, they are staring back at you.
In cases like P&P, the artist hides herself pretty well.
In truth, every character is a piece of the author, they can’t help it.
But for great authors, it’s easier to insert pieces of themselves into their works without us being able to notice.
So, for one of the greatest novels ever written, where do you think Jane Austen is hiding?
My guess is that she put most of herself into Mary, the bookish one who is always in the background.
Sure, she occasionally spouts some silly statement of deep insight that is fairly meaningless. And that might be the smoking gun.
I can see the young Jane Austen, sitting at the table with her large family at supper. I can see the table conversation being quite lively. Based on how precocious she was as an adult writer, I’m also willing to bet that her father encouraged his daughters to exercise and expand their minds.
And what would this courageous introvert do during her most vulnerable teen years?
She would make an attempt to fit in every now and then. She would try and show that she was an adult with great thoughts, fitting in easily into the conversation. But she would obviously be awkward, inept in the social niceties of the time.
Because she lives in books. She breathes the written word. She’s a writer.
And that’s why Mary is her reflection. She does nothing in the book but read. She can only spout her insights at the worst times. She has no redemption in the end of the book, that’s reserved for Kitty. Both Mr. and Mrs. Bennet ignore her as well. They think of her as beyond their help, and they are right.
Because she’s going to be a writer, living in her own world. She doesn’t need them.
So the next time you read P&P, and you will, take your time going over the parts dealing with Mary.
And think of Jane.