In light of a very important anniversary this year – 200 years since the death of Jane Austen – we had a think about how we could honour one of Britain’s most famous authors.
What better way could there be to pay homage to the wittiest appraiser of Regency England’s marriage market than to think about what Jane Austen would make of love in 2017? Austen lived in a world where eligible bachelors boasted vast estates, Oxbridge educations and possibly a stint in the Navy or the chambers; single ladies were expected to speak several languages, sing and play piano, and be capable of running the home and raising children of equally excellent breeding. In both cases, it was, of course, advantageous if you looked good too. So, how much has – or hasn’t – changed?
Dating apps such as Tinder (which now has over 50 million users) opaquely outline the demands of today’s relationship market; users ruminate long and hard over their choice of pictures and what they write in their biographies to hook in potential lovers, and that’s just your own profile. What do you look for in a future partner’s profile – potential signifiers of a popular personality, a good job, a nice car? These apps are a poignant reminder of the often classist attitudes we still adopt, as well as the financial and aesthetic expectations we demand from potential partners. It seems that women would almost universally swipe right for modern Fitzwilliam Darcys, but would single men today of his earning potential and inheritance still swipe right for Elizabeth Bennets?
Either way, enjoy the video – and next time you swipe right, think of Jane Austen.
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