“Cousins in Love, &c.” in Jane Austen

Mary Jean Corbett, Miami University
Vol. 23, No. 2 (Fall 2004), 237-260

This article offers a reinterpretation of cousin-marriage in the works of Jane Austen. While earlier scholars argue that Austen rejects cousin-marriage in favor of unions with strangers in order to challenge aristocratic power, these readings are complicated by the union of cousins Fanny and Edmund which Austen supports in Mansfield Park. Instead, the article posits that by reexamining ideas of the marriage plot in light of the historical realities of nineteenth-century courtship, marriage becomes subservient to the duties to the family and is primarily seen as a way of keeping or challenging these familial bonds. As Fanny’s status as a dependent in some ways frees her from being a valuable object of exchange (either among family members or strangers), she is allowed a unique agency to choose which marriage plot is best suited to her desires, not her family’s well-being.

Mary Wollstonecraft Sojourner Truth Margaret Atwood Abigail Adams Amy Tan H.D. Simone de Beauvoir Zora Neale Hurston Frances Burney Virginia Woolf

"The white saxifrage with the indented leafe is moste commended for the breakinge of the Stone."

— Turner, Herbal, III, 68 [1568]