I just responded to a very insightful post by Christy Somer in Janeites and Austen L as follows:
[Christy] "Though, imho, not because she personally, and secretly resonated to irreligious, freedom-oriented Whig-like immorality more than to her conservative-Tory, religiously-moral upbringing..."
And I claim that JA invented for herself a very personal and unique blending of secularism and Christianity, freedom and duty, and other comparable transcendances of apparent paradoxes, that was distant from the two options you described, both of which I think she found very unappealing and unsatisfactory in numerous ways. She could not be contained by either of those "boxes", she beat to her own drum, the more so with each passing year of her tragically too-short life.
[Christy] "but because she knew and understood how often these supposed "pictures" were more likely born from desperation, desire, fantasy, or all of the above...thus forcing an unnatural portraiture to be presented..in art as in life."
And there I totally agree with you, and would add in support thereof that she recognized that the desperation, desire, fantasy, or all of the above you describe were pitfalls that respected no boundaries between different superficial categories of human behavior and attitudes, but were the _common_ pitfall of every human being--she had, intuitively, a very Buddhist understanding that it was the central challenge for _everyone_ to learn to overcome pride and prejudice, not to be too vulnerable to persuasion or too stubborn, and not to suffer from an imbalance between sense and sensibility.
[Christy] "Through the irony and wit of her novels, one sees how she saw many more of her 'fellow creatures' filled with ridiculously-constructed rationalizations, glaring inconsistencies, and serious deceptions which would lead to unsatisfactory outcomes of hardship and deep unhappiness....unless realized an transformed."
And there I totally agree with you as well, that is exactly the way she did what she did, and you described it perfectly.
I think our agreements are more significant than our disagreements, and am glad to say that. ;)
A Jane Austen Christmas by Rachel Dodge
10 hours ago