Study Guide

Austenland Dissatisfaction

By Shannon Hale

Dissatisfaction

It's also the most perfect romance in all of literature and nothing in my life can ever measure up, so I spend my life limping in its shadow. (1.27)

Like Molly, we have to tell it to Jane straight here: girl, you set yourself up for disappointment. Even if men still walked around in suits and cravats, you still wouldn't find your Mr. Darcy. (At least, that's what we'd say before we read the end of the book. Maybe it does pay to aim high.)

Harold and I had a miserable marriage. (1.40)

Great-Aunt Carolyn is able to identify with her grand-niece Jane's dissatisfaction and disappointment because she has suffered some of her own.

[Jane] hadn't changed. She'd been standing knee-deep in the same romance mud for years and she didn't even care anymore. (2.46)

Romance mud? Ick. That doesn't sound pleasant. The thing about quicksand, both literal and figurative, is that the more you struggle, the harder it is to get out. Maybe Jane should just relax and let things happen.

It's not really normal to do that. [...] Kind of slaps expectation on a relationship before it's begun. (2.63)

It's Jane's high expectations that lead to her dissatisfaction. Do you think Jane still has high expectations for her relationship with Henry at the end of the book?

All this hoping and waiting is killing me. [...] It's time to embrace spinsterhood. (2.83)

Jane's coping strategy when dealing with disappointment needs some work. Giving up won't cut it. Good thing she's all talk and no action. Or in this case, no inaction.

The less historical vigor observed, the more difficult it was for Jane to pretend that this whole exercise was anything beyond wish fulfillment. (4.27)

Even though she's barely been at Austenland a day, she's already disappointed with the lack of historical accuracy. When she reaps the rewards of Austenland's imperfections, though—like when she starts watching TV in Henry's secret-makeout-y cabin—she changes her tune.

[Jane] never considered how, once inside [Austenland's] borders, she would feel like an outsider. (6.32)

This kind of disappointment is a little more difficult for Jane to deal with than the electric lanterns. Being odd-woman-out in an environment that thrives on social interaction is a lot harder to ignore than historical inaccuracy. And how can an Austen-lover as dedicated as Jane feel like an outsider at Austenland? That'd be like saying you don't belong here at Shmoop, Shmoopers.

She felt as though she belonged inside the aloneness. [...] "I've never felt at home with myself." (9.45)

Jane seems to be realizing that her dissatisfaction with all her relationships stems from being uncomfortable with herself. In the words of a great philosopher: If you can't love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?

I was promised certain things about this place and I can tell you one thing—no one's made me feel enchanting. (10.15)

Miss Charming is Miss Disappointed here. But a quick call to Mrs. Wattlesbrook, and she becomes Little Miss Ooh! She fell in love.

Now he was going to grab her and kiss her and call her Jane, now she'd witness the pent-up passion that explores behind Regency doors! But... (17.61)

But he doesn't. Jane is really over-estimating the amount of passion that occurs behind the scenes in these novels, thereby setting herself up for disappointment. This is Jane Austen, not one of those racy, fan-written sequels.