To The Farthest Reaches

Jane’s letters to her sister, Cassandra, are long and full of detail. To save postage, people in Jane’s day wrote horizontally across the page until it was filled, then turned the paper ninety degrees and wrote across it again. Sometimes, they even turned the paper one more time and wrote across the sheet upside-down. It’s easy to imagine what joy Cassandra felt when she received a letter from Jane that began with “My dearest Cassandra” and was filled with lines and lines of news.

In this portion of her prayer, Jane prays for those whom she loves and values, for “every Friend & Connection,” and for those “divided & far asunder.” For Jane, this most likely included praying for her brothers in the navy, for any family who were traveling, and for friends and family who lived in other parts of the country. She asks God to keep them “under” his watchful eye of protection. Continue reading “To The Farthest Reaches”

Keep the Night Watches

During her first night at Northanger Abbey, Catherine Morland’s imagination gets the better of her. In the old, dark, and drafty house, with a storm raging outside, it doesn’t take much for the fanciful Catherine to lose her nerve. When she goes to her chamber at the end of the evening, she enters “her room with a tolerably stout heart.” However, once her fire dies down and her candle goes out, Catherine’s bravery quickly dissolves.

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Give Us Patience

This portion of Jane’s prayer is a prayer of intercession. In it, Jane prays on behalf of “all” who are suffering or are “in any circumstance of danger or distress.” Her words reflect her confidence in God’s ability to strengthen us during times of pain and trial, comfort us in our seasons of deepest need, provide us with his tangible help and presence in life’s hardest moments, and give us “patience under every affliction.”

In Mansfield Park, Fanny experiences distress on a daily basis. She has no voice, her opinions are misunderstood, and her wishes are disregarded. Her little attic room and her conversations with Edmund are her only refuge. She exists in a kind of middle-world between servant and family member, “carrying messages, and fetching” what others want. She suffers from various causes of loneliness and heartache throughout much of the novel.

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