Money or Love? Becoming Jane portrays this classic battle of humanity through an account of young Jane Austen’s relationship with Tom Lefroy. Being a girl without a prominent family or a great fortune, her only choice is to marry someone that possesses matters of “greater importance.” Unfortunately, having a talented mind was despised.
“If a woman happens to have a particular superiority, for example, a profound mind, it is best kept a profound secret. Humour is liked more, but wit? No. It is the most treacherous talent of them all.”
Especially for the young Austen, marrying rich is the only solution to resolve the family’s difficult financial situation.
“Affection is desirable. Money is absolutely indispensable!”
Yet the young lad stirred her heart. Tom Lefroy, how he had embodied the very essence of charm! Charming, witty, and handsome, what woman can remain untamed by such presence?! Love need not take eternity to develop; all it takes is a spark – in this case, an arrogant comment in regards to the four page speech performed by Austen to her sister Cassandra.
“A metropolitan mind may be less susceptible to extended juvenile self-regard.”
An insult, a quarrel, memorable start, isn’t it? Amongst grinding teeth, Austen and Lefroy had been acquainted.
Prior to Lefroy’s departure back to London after summer had ended, their love blossomed. In an era even the basic act of holding hands was only permitted in dancing, they kissed – timidly, but lovingly…
Jane Austen: [she has just kissed him] Did I do that well?
Tom Lefroy: Very. Very well.
Jane Austen: I wanted, just once, to do it well.
They belonged to each other, heart and soul…
She went with him to London to obtain the approval of Lefroy’s uncle. However, a letter that contained defamation from an old admirer of Austen destroyed it all. Lefroy’s uncle was furious at the account of Jane portrayed within the letter and disapproved of Jane in entirety. Lefroy, whom was completely dependent on his uncle, not established as a successful lawyer, and had more than enough siblings to take care of, he shivered at the thought of such financial burden. He had nothing to substantiate their love. Austen left London with a broken heart…
When they met once again, Austen was engaged to Mr. Wisley and Lefroy was engaged to a woman with great fortune. Yet after seeing the pain and the struggle Austen revealed, he sealed her frustration with a passionate kiss and proposed an elopement to Ireland.
“Jane, I have tried. I have tried and I cannot live this lie. Can you?”
She accepted the elopment proposal, which was extremely frowned upon during the 18th century. They knew they were risking everything…
While on the way, after she secretly read the letters Lefroy’s family wrote to him, reality shattered her to pieces… The allowances which Lefroy received from his uncle, he sent them back to his family and siblings in Ireland (I did some research, Lefroy had 11 siblings and he was the oldest!). Once branded with elopment, he would never be able to become a lawyer despite his brilliance and his uncle would completely cut off the financial support. It would have been impossible to make a living. How do you run away when you have such big family on your shoulders?! This time, Jane fully realized the severity of consequences that would be brought about by their love. She could not possibly do that to him! She refused to do that to him and returned home. In front of reality, her love was guillotined…
As a woman with a great mind and a stern pen, she bravely and daringly chose to live by her pen – Jane Austen was never married. She refused to be engaged in a loveless marriage solely for the sake of money. Lefroy became the Lord Chief Justice of Ireland and had seven children; his first daughter was named Jane, Jane Christmas Lefroy…
Jane Austen: [reading Pride and Prejudice] “She began now to comprehend that he was exactly the man who, in disposition and talents, would most suit her. His understanding and temper, though unlike her own, would have answered all her wishes. It was a union that must have been to the advantage of both. By her ease and liveliness, his mind might have been softened, his manners improved, and from his judgment, information and knowledge of the world, she must have received benefit of greater importance. But no such happy marriage could now teach the admiring multitude what connubial felicity really was.”
Sense or sensibility, one cannot be employed without the other.