First of all, I think I can speak for Miss Osborne and Mrs. Fitzpatrick in saying a huge and heartfelt thank you for playing Jane Austen’s March Madness with us—for filling out brackets, for voting in each round, for Facebooking and Twittering and e-mailing and spreading the word (and, in one particularly endearing case, for asking us about the results between Easter services). Your enthusiasm surpassed our wildest hopes, and we couldn’t have had a successful tournament without your help and your humor and your willingness to play along. We had a great time moderating (and speculating), and we hope you had a great time playing. You’re the best!
But let’s get down to business and talk about Anne Elliot’s miracle race for the championship, shall we?
Anne Elliot—spinsterish, unassuming to a fault, and heroine of one of Austen’s less-read novels—went down to the dazzling and absurdly popular Elizabeth Bennet in the Final Four, making her the runner-up on the ladies’ side. She beat out Elinor Dashwood and her final passionate outburst, Jane Bennet and her notorious lovely/lovable combo, and even her own handsome nice-guy pirate Wentworth to become the only non-Bennet to make it to the end of the tournament. It appears that something about the air (sea air, one assumes) outside of Persuasion did her some good: in the universe of her own novel, Anne would never have put up this much of a fight.
So why did she make it so far in March Madness? Further, what kind of revealing psychological assumptions can we make about the Austenacious community at large, now that we’re equipped with this kind of data? (“Data”: statisticians everywhere shudder. Sorry, math!)
Maybe, through some ironic trick of the cosmos, the Austenacious target demographic is the demographic of maturity—in much the way that Persuasion is Austen’s treatise on autumn and long-suffering and the virtues of rekindled love. Maybe we know what it’s like to wait without hope. Maybe we have ineffectual fathers and well-meaning but occasionally overbearing lady neighbors. Maybe we like a good trip to the sea. Maybe we know that, as Benwick so heartbreakingly points out, the death of a relationship isn’t so different from the death of a person.
Or, you know, maybe we just have a thing for sailors.
Readers?Anne Elliot, Austenacious, Captain Wentworth, Elinor Dashwood, Elizabeth Bennet, Jane Austen, Jane Austen's March Madness, Jane Bennet, March Madness, Persuasion on Thursday, April 8, 2010 · 7 Comments »