The Families of Austen

Dec 19, 2012 by

In my upcoming novel, Attempting Elizabeth, a modern American grad student finds that she can “jump” into characters in Pride and Prejudice and becomes obsessed with trying to become Elizabeth Bennet.  An important consideration in picking an Austen heroine to become would be what family you are getting stuck with.  With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to compare families…which would you rather be a part of?


The Bennets

Pros: Sisters to keep you company, generally unstructured and fun environment, both parents alive, considered one of the most important families in your little hamlet.

Cons: Mrs. Bennet is your mother, the lack of structure leads to a lack of propriety that tends to chase off the most eligible suitors, your family is not wealthy (though you’re not uncomfortable) and you will have an extremely small inheritance. Plus, you have Lydia as a sister.


The Elliots

Pros: Your family has status and a very nice house, you have a close friend in the neighborhood. One of your sisters lucked into some decent in-laws who are also in the neighborhood.

Cons: Your truly lovely mother is deceased.  Though your family has the trappings of wealth, your dad has blown all the money.  Also, your dad is a pompous and vain man. Your elder sister isn’t much better, and your younger sister is a hypochondriac.  Your close family friend (and everyone else) might push you around a little.


The Woodhouses

Pros: Money, a nice house, social standing, and security.  Your sister is married to a family friend and is very happy.  You have no need to marry unless you truly desire too.

Cons: Again, we have a family without a mother and a silly father.  Though in your case your father is the hypochondriac, and is needy enough that you feel you cannot leave him even to pursue your own happiness.


The Dashwoods

Pros: A loving and relatively smart mother and two sisters, who though different in temperament to you are both supportive and loving.

Cons: Your father is dead and thus you are extremely poor.  Not only that you have the world’s worst sister-in-law and a half-brother who is useless at best.


The Morlands

Pros: A large, comfortable, loving family.  You have both parents living and they are both sensible, well-mannered people.  You have tons of siblings and enough a free-for-all youth that you’re allowed to run around and play sports.

Cons: Your family is so big that sometimes you get lost in the mix.  Also, while you couldn’t be considered extremely poor, you have to rely on the kindness of friends for extras like a trip to Bath.


The Bertrams (although Fanny is just a poor relation, she spends most of her life with the Bertrams)

Pros: Money, a nice country manor, not having to live with your wild and poor family.

Cons: Your cousins all pretty much suck, your aunt is indolent and obsessed with her pugs, your uncle is probably a decent guy but is withdrawn, and your other aunt is money-pinching, annoying harpy.  Plus, there’s quite the family scandal to deal with.


So if you had to pick one to be part of, which Austen family would you chose?


  1. Well, with that rundown I think I have to go with the Morlands. They may not have a lot of money, but they’ve got enough that they never want for the important things. Plus, lots of siblings and parents who love us. Oh, and a protective older brother! I always wanted one of those.

    Nancy Morland… yeah, that works.

  2. I wouldn’t mind being a member of the Darcy family. Is that cheating?

  3. Stephanie Carrico

    The Morlands seem the most “normal” or maybe Mr Woodhouse…I could handle him I think…The Bennets, if I was Mr Bennets favorite…
    Final choice…The Morlands

  4. The Dashwoods, no question. Sisters & an awesome mom. Yeah, no money sucks, but we’ll get husbands for that! ;)

  5. Robin Helm

    I choose the Bennets, if I can be Elizabeth. After all, she gets Darcy! I could put up with a crazy mother for a few years in order to marry Darcy.

  6. I might be biased in this, but I also think the Wentworths would be a fun family to be a part of :) Sophy seems like an awesome older sister!

  7. My vote would be for the Bennets – they may be an embarrassing lot (which is the same as my family is now!) but to have so many sisters would be very nice and especially to have a sister like Jane that you are so very close to would be wonderful to experience! Looking forward to learning more about your book, Jessica!

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