John Mullan, the author of What Matters in Austen, provides more food for thought in this feature article. A sample:
The mere use of a person's Christian name is electric. In Sense and Sensibility Elinor overhears Willoughby discussing the gift of a horse with her sister and saying, "Marianne, the horse is still yours." It can mean only one thing. "From that moment she doubted not of their being engaged to each other." A woman who lets a man speak her name has given him a special power. But it is even rarer for a woman to call a man by his first name. Mr Knightley asks Emma to call him George, but she won't. "Impossible! – I never can call you any thing but 'Mr Knightley'."He points out that we never learn the first name of P&P's Mrs Bennet, or of many other characters. In a discussion of how Austen encodes sexual desire, he talks about how she hints that evanescent youthful allure—and decidedly not her brains—drew Mr B to his mate.
For those who have really and truly come to an impasse in their reading and re-reading of Austen's canon, we invite you to partake of several intriguing novels Jill Pitkeathley has written about Jane and her extended family.
Finally, do you have a favorite Austen novel? Hero or heroine?