Study Guide

Austenland Eyes and Paintings

By Shannon Hale

Eyes and Paintings

Her Eyes Were Watching You

During her stay at Austenland, Jane is unable to separate fiction from reality. All of Austenland is a stage, and all its gentleman merely players. So what does she often focus on? The paintings. They're definitely not real, but Jane acts like they might as well be. This isn't that surprising, considering she's lived her whole life fixated on fictional characters. She muses, "all the people in those paintings know that they're significant. You have to envy that kind of self-assurance." (14.40). That's right: Jane goes from envying actors to envying unknown people in paintings.

She does grow a bit during her stay, though. She even starts doing her own paintings. The paintings then become a metaphor for her own life. "She wanted to love someone the way she felt when painting—fearless, messy, vivid" (15.8). But she has a problem getting the eyes of her paintings right. Like the eyes of the gentleman of Austenland, her paintings have actor's eyes, a sign that nothing is what it seems, and she can't ever tell what the men are thinking.

Heck, Jane has a hard enough time figuring out what Jane is thinking. She describes the eyes of her self-portrait as "too cautious, measuring everything, taking away the spontaneity" (17.52). Okay, maybe she does have a good idea of herself, even if she doesn't realize it. Those eyes are a pretty spot-on description for Jane, for better or for worse.

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