September 8, 2007

Love and Money

Category: Literature :: Permalink

Last week, I read (for the first time as an adult) Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  In the introduction, which I read last, of course, Vivien Jones writes:

[T]o point out basic structural similarities between Austen’s novel and a Mills and Boon or Harlequin romance is not to reduce Austen’s achievement.  Rather, it helps account for the continuing popularity of Austen’s fiction and of Pride and Prejudice in particular.  The romantic fantasy which so effectively shapes Austen’s early-nineteenth-century novel is still a powerful cultural myth for readers in the late twentieth century.  We still respond with pleasure to the rags-to-riches love story, to the happy ending which combines sexual and emotional attraction with ten thousand a year and the prospect of becoming mistress of Pemberly, a resolution which makes romantic love both the guarantee and the excuse for economic and social success (p. viii).

It strikes me that some readers today might think that such a combination — marriage and wealth and advancement to high social standing — reduces romance to something a bit too mercenary.  Besides, such a combination is generally out of our reach.  Few girls marry wealthy men and become the mistress of Pemberly, and in our day, at least here in North America, many people have developed a sort of contempt for anything or anyone high class.  And yet, says Vivien Jones, the myth remains.

Why?  I submit it’s because the combination of romance and love with money and high status is part of the gospel.  The gospel is itself a love story, the story of the Son who sought a Bride and wooed her in spite of everything and in the end has won her.  It’s a love story that ends, as happy fairy tales do, with a wedding and the couple living “happily ever after.”  And it is precisely a rags-to-riches love story, for the Son who was rich becomes poor for the sake of the Bride, so that she may share in His riches and be the mistress in His house.

Posted by John Barach @ 2:39 pm | Discuss (1)

One Response to “Love and Money”

  1. Hitting the Links 09 September 2007 « After Darkness Light - Providence Community Church Says:

    […] Rags to Riches:  The Gospel Story.  John Barach is the pastor of Reformation Covenant Church.  Jane Austin and the Gospel in this post.  […]

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