Love and Friendship
by Jane Austen
'Love and Friendship' Summary
Letter The First
From Isabel to Laura
This presents a glimpse into the life of Laura from Isabel's perspective. Isabel asks Laura to tell the "misfortunes and adventures" of her life to Isabel's daughter Marianne (Austen 516). Isabel argues that because Laura is turning 55, she is past the danger of "disagreeable lovers" and "obstinate fathers" (Austen 516). This initial letter sets up the rest of Austen's narrative through Laura's letters to Marianne.
Letter The Second
Laura to Isabel
This consists of a reply from Laura to Isabel. Laura initially disagrees with Isabel's assessment that she is safe from "misfortunes" simply because of her advanced age (Austen 516). Laura agrees to write to Marianne and detail her life experiences to "satisfy the curiosity of Marianne" and to teach her useful lessons (Poplawski 183). The useful lessons are lessons learned from the misfortunes caused by "disagreeable lovers" and "obstinate fathers" (Poplawski 183). Poplawski highlights the importance of the relationship between females and their lovers and also between females and their fathers as a means through which Austen is able to criticise stereotypical female behaviour. As seen throughout the work, these two relationships are constantly criticised by satirical anecdotes. Janetta's relations with her father and with her lover, Capitan M’Kenzie in the twelfth letter, shows Austen mocking the fickleness of family ties and romantic relationships.
Letter The Third
Laura to Marianne
Laura's narrative to Marianne begins in the third letter and continues through to the 15th letter. In the 3rd, Laura gives a brief overview of the origins of her parents, her birth in Spain, and her education in a convent in France. At 18, Laura returns to her parents’ home in Wales. Laura pauses to describe herself at this age. She emphasises her "accomplishments", which in that period would have been things that made a woman a better companion for her future husband (Austen 516). Laura ends the letter by posing the idea that her misfortunes in life “do not make less impression… than they ever did,” but that her accomplishments have begun to fade (Austen 517). The uncertainty of Laura's memory causes Austen's work to resemble a fairy tale in its qualities of ambiguity.
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