We took our boys to see the plays Henry IV Part I and Sense and Sensibility.
But while Shakespeare is considered the universal playwright, Austen is supposedly the pioneer of chic lit. Why is Austen so often categorized as a women’s writer?
It’s not fair.
Henry IV is hardly a play that gives equal attention to the sexes. While the men play a king, a prince, several earls, and a fat guy that steals the show, the women play a wench, a few singing Welsh women, and a wife. They have maybe 1% of all of the lines of the play. None of these women have any power or influence. Only men are allowed in the rooms where the politics are really going on.
Sense and Sensibility, the girlie book, is stuffed with male leads. There’s the charming, but untrustworthy Willoughby, the ever loyal Colonel Brandon, the stumbling but endearing Edward Ferrars, and the loud and generous Sir Middleton. The male leads are actually given quite a few lines which just proves that a woman wrote the story because we all know that men don’t talk that much. (But Austen can feed women their deepest fantasies, can’t she? A man that reads poetry? Sigh.)
While I had no problem going to see Henry IV, my youngest boy threw fits about Austen while the other two seemed uneasy about it, like they were worried someone they knew might see them going into the theater.
After the play was over, I asked my oldest what he thought. He was sitting in the passenger seat of our van, looking out the window.
“I liked it,” he said.
“You did?!” I answered too excitedly.
“I mean, well actually, you know Austen is all the same though. It’s like the same plot every time. Why did she have to write six books? She could have just written one.”
“You liked it!” I sang. Ha! Ha!
I can’t think of a time where Austen is more relevant, especially to boys. The book/play is a comedy of manners, and Austen’s whole message seems to be, “This is how you treat people.”
Be polite even when you’re feeling cross.
Help your local farmer when he’s stuck int he mud.
Ask people about themselves.
My youngest son was still groaning about the play afterwards,but today, when I stopped on the side of the street to pick him up from school, he asked, “Should we offer those girls a ride? They live in our neighborhood.” Then he actually rolled down the window and did it. Money well spent if you ask me.
Do you know men or are you a men that read books written my women? What are some of your favorite books?