Sexual Fables
This article accompanies the fable
Spinster

Not enough men?

There’s a purely practical explanation for Austen not finding a husband: not enough men to go around.  One academic study has suggested that at the time Austen was weighing the merits of a husband, as many as 70% of English women were not married.  The figures are skewed by the fact that most women from the working classes never married at all although many were in relationships.  Many eligible men were serving abroad in the wars with Napoleon, where thousands of them were killed, or they traveled to the margins of empire, like the man Cassandra was engaged to, who died of Yellow Fever in the Caribbean.  No wonder Austen didn’t have a wide selection of men to choose from.

Ironically, the situation today for women looking for a husband is similar. Or so I'm told. Are many eligible men today afraid of marriage (or worse, afraid of intimacy)? What should a woman want from a man these days: a romantic but probably unfaithful lover or a "tolerable" but unexciting father to their children? The fact that Lizzy in Pride and Prejudice ends up with the wealthy Mr. Darcy at Pemberley is a fantasy.

Below is Chatsworth House, near Sheffield, which is the leading candidate for Pemberley. It appears in the 2005 film.

Chatsworth-House

The coolest thing about the House is the Cascade - built between 1696 and 1703.

Chatsworth-Cascade

Lower photo: greenacre8.

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