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The Math of Jane Austen

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by Julie Thompson on 28 April 2013

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Transcript of The Math of Jane Austen

Part I. The Math of Courtship At the ball... The Math of
Jane Austen 4 feet Dancers start off in two parallel lines, 4 feet apart. (Geometry, Measurement) May I have this dance? 2 dances "Darcy danced only four dances, though gentlemen were scarce; and, to my certain knowledge, more than one young lady was sitting down in want of a partner."
--P&P 2 partners x 2 dances each = 4 dances (Number and Operations) Angles and posture: Playing an instrument--a chance to show off good posture. "...moving with his usual deliberation towards the piano-forte, he stationed himself so as to command a full view of the fair performer." --P&P Number of couples in the set affects the length
of the dance: 3 couples approx. 5 minutes 12 couples approx. 30 minutes (Measurement) A couple could dance together a maximum of 2 times
(or 4 dances) in one evening. "It would look odd to be entirely silent
for half an hour together." --Pride & Prejudice Minimum of 3 couples in a "set." Mr. Bingley's dance card at Meryton Ball: Charlotte Lucas: 2 dances Mary King: 2 dances Jane Bennet: 4 dances Elizabeth Bennet: 2 dances Maria Lucas: 2 dances (Measurement) "Jane was so admired, nothing could be like it. Mr. Bingley thought her quite beautiful, and she was the only creature in the room that he asked to dance a second time!" --P&P Mrs. Bennet's data analysis: (Number and Operations, Data analysis) Card tables were either square, for four players: Or triangular, for three players: (Geometry) 1 mil = 10 fish 1 fish =10 counters The popular card game quadrille involved gaming tokens: "Mr. Collins was employed in agreeing to everything her Ladyship said, thanking her for every fish he won, and apologizing if he thought he won too many." --P&P (Number and Operations) In the drawing room.... Total: 12 dances "Do you prefer reading to cards? That is rather singular." --P&P Dancers then do a series of moves, including the "hands across." Each dancer travels 180 degrees to take the spot of the person across the circle, switches hands, then moves back to place (360 degrees total). (Geometry, Measurement) The math of letter-writing: In order to conserve paper,
one could write a letter,
then turn the paper 90 degrees and write some more, making a new series of lines at right angles to the first. (Geometry, Measurement) The math of cards: "He was tired, I daresay, for he had just filled the sheet to me as full as possible."
--Sense & Sensibility Each player starts with 7 mils worth of markers,
or 70 fish, to gamble with. (Number and Operations) This method cuts the needed surface area
for writing a 2-page letter in half. Part II. The Math of Marriage Dowry: The money brought by a bride to her husband on their marriage. 5 Bennet sisters get £5,000 settled among them (after parents' death). £5,000 = £1,000
each Invested at 4%
interest =
income of
£4o/year each (Number and Operations) Bennet sisters Dashwood
sisters Anne
Elliot Emma
Woodhouse For comparison:
Caroline Bingley's dowry is
£20,000, yielding an income of £1,000/year
(dowry invested at 5% interest). Catherine
Morland (P&P) (S&S) (Persuasion) (Emma) (Northanger Abbey) Dowry
(in thousands of £) 10 20 30 £1,000 £1,000 £10,000 £30,000 £3,000 (Data analysis) Analysis: Jane Austen's most famous heroines have small dowries, with the exception of Emma. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Colonel Brandon: George Wickham: Mr. Willoughby: Character Income £2,000/year £600-700/year £10,000/year £150/year Who is the right man to marry? Jane Austen answers
this question in numbers. Elizabeth Bennet, Pride & Prejudice Marianne Dashwood, Sense & Sensibility (Data Analysis) Character Income (Data Analysis) The world of Jane Austen involves a great deal of math: she used angles, numbers, measurement, and lots of data analysis in making sure her heroines find love--and money! In conclusion... Sources: Character Olsen, Kirsin. All Things Austen: A Concise Encyclopedia of Austen's World. Oxford: Greenwood World Publishing, 2008. Pool, Daniel. What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993. Tyler, Natalie. The Friendly Jane Austen. New York: Viking, 1999. Francus, Marilyn. "Jane Austen, Pound for Pound." JASNA V. 33, No. 1 (Winter 2012).
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