... reading Pride and Prejudice, which I've just done for the squillionth time. What sprang out at me this time was how much of the book is about happiness. The word ‘happiness’ appears 74 times and the word 'happy’ 84 times in the book. We tend to think that Jane Austen's all about social mores or moralities, and the correction of behaviour through painful experience, but I wonder if she sees these simply as structures put in place to secure or guarantee individual happiness. Charlotte Lucas sacrifices happiness in order to obtain the socially valuable goods of household and status. Elizabeth on the other hand rejects the same offer of social stability in favor of personal happiness and is ultimately rewarded. Her resolve to act in a manner that will constitute her own happiness without reference to Lady Catherine's strict preservation of the distinctions of rank makes her an appealing heroine and ultimately delivers Mr Darcy into her hands. In Sense and Sensibility, Elinor's constant caution is a means of guarding her personal happiness, rather than simply of obeying social codes, and Marianne provides an example of the pain that ensues when codes are flouted and happiness is squandered on undeserving objects.