Understanding Jane Bennet, The Broken-Hearted

I recently experienced a breakup, and I have to say, it sucks. I was the one who got dumped, unexpectedly, and I was the one who put most of the effort and commitment into the relationship. So, yeah, major suckitude.

Jane Austen’s works help shed insight into my personal life, and this time is no different. I thought about my current situation, my favorite novels, and, more specifically, my favorite characters. Emma Woodhouse and Elizabeth Bennet did not seem to be appropriate for my present emotional state. Neither did Anne Elliot nor Catherine Morland.

No, the character I can connect to most is none other than Jane Bennet. Before the breakup, I thought of Jane Bennet as an extremely static, somewhat dismissible character. Her storyline consists of beautiful girl falls in love with Charles Bingley; he reciprocates her feelings. He is misguided by his closest friend and his family and breaks it off with her upon their advice. She continues to love him. When his best friend (who convinced him to breakup with her in the first place) persuades him to get back together with her, Bingley proposes to her; she accepts. Happily ever after.

I am not relating to Jane Bennet for happily ever after; rather, I am relating to her for her broken-heart. She is the girl who got dumped, unexpectedly, even though she did nothing wrong. She is the girl who remained in love with the guy, even though he metaphorically kicked her to the curb. She is the broken-hearted. She is the character who helps me during this time. Plain Jane Bennet, the unexpectedly relatable.

 

The Jane Austen Social Scene Part VIII: “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” (2016)

 

prideprejudicesmall1

(Photo source: comingsoon.net)

As a Jane Austen fan and a fan of Seth Grahame-Smith’s adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, I was very excited when the trailer came out for “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.” I was so excited that I actually went to the movies to see it, an act I sheepishly admit to not doing enough of when it comes to film.

Now, I try to keep an open mind in regards to movie versions of books. Maybe it’s the scholar in me reminding myself that adaptations are meant to be different. Still, it’s hard not to sit there and go, “That’s not in/like the book!”

I found myself thinking just that as I sat through “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.” (Note: Spoilers ahead)

I could look past changing some of the plot. I get it – it’s being made into a movie, they might need to change some points around. What I could not look past was changing the characters.

Take Wickham, for instance. In the novel, he runs off with Lydia Bennet thinking that her family has money. After being paid by Darcy, he finally agrees to marry her. This point is kept in the novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies with some added zombie, sci-fi/fantasy plot elements added to it. In the movie, however, Wickham kidnaps Lydia and keeps her prisoner in the basement of a zombie church, using her as bait to lure Mr. Darcy to the church. He never gets forced into marriage. In fact, if the end of the film is any indication, he gets to be made leader of his own rebel zombie army and charge the double wedding of Jane and Lizzie.

Then there’s Lady Catherine de Bourgh. The movie keeps her animosity towards Lizzie but then does a 180 with her character, transforming her from the snobby elitist that she is into a generous savior who allows her estate to be used as a refuge for the Bennet family when the zombie war starts to heat up. Lady Catherine, the character who openly insults Lizzie for the class distinction between the two of them.

The change that made the Jane Austen fan in me grit her teeth the most though was Mr. Darcy. Yes, Mr. Darcy is reserved. He insults Lizzie’s family the first time he proposes to her. He’s not the most outright amiable character. But what Darcy is not is cruel. Lizzie begins to see the softer side of Mr. Darcy when she visits Pemberley, and his servants talk about what a good master he is and how kind he is to his sister. This man is a far cry from the Darcy of “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” a man who purposefully switches out the communal zombie church offering of pig brains (a substance the zombies choose to consume so as not to lose their sanity and become slaves to the lust for brains) for actual human brains, resulting in turning the zombies into, well, crazy zombies that need to be killed. That act is cruel, unfeeling, and not keeping with the Mr. Darcy Austen created.

Despite my frustrations with certain elements of the movie, I have to remember that the movie is an adaptation of an adaptation. In other words, it’s not only about what they changed but also about what they kept. The Bennet sisters are still strong, powerful women. Lizzie rejects Mr. Collins’ marriage proposal in a scene that affirms her independence. She also rejects Mr. Darcy’s initial marriage proposal in a similar scene. Jane marries Mr. Bingley, and Lizzie marries Mr. Darcy. The movie ends with a wedding.

So, then, what’s my take on the movie?

It’s not a happily-ever-after version of the original tale. It’s reads more as a struggle to hold onto decorum and tradition while constantly being made aware of threats to civilized society. And I think that’s something modern audiences can relate to.

The Jane Austen Social Scene Part VII: John Willoughby

Oh, wow, have I been absent from the blogosphere! I just realized my last post was back in May, and I am officially embarrassed!

Seeing the date of my last post, I wondered, “What have I been doing all this time?” Well, I like to think that I have been out experiencing the Jane Austen Social Scene for myself this summer.

My experiences with dating and relationships could very well turn into excerpts for a book whose ideas for a title could include It’s Actually Not My Fault That I’m Single, Buttmachine* and Bike Helmets, and What To Do When Your Date Leaves You To Walk Back Alone At Night. Trust me, there are also other working titles and the chapters would be even better.

After taking a break from attempts at dating, I decided to give it a whirl again this summer. I tried different venues in the past from going to events to the slew of online sites, so I wanted to try a dating avenue I did not pursue before but had heard much about: Tinder.

I am an optimist. I see the best in people. I am honest, genuine, and direct. I apply the golden principle of “Treat others as you would want to be treated” to my interactions with fellow creatures.

Unfortunately, I can not say the same for others.

When I think over the dates and the people I have met because of Tinder, I likewise think about where in the Jane Austen Social Scene they would inhabit. And there is one character who comes to mind: John Willoughby from Sense and Sensibility.

Willoughby is a character who essentially leads Marianne on and ends up hurting her. He shows interest in her, they share common interests and engaging conversations, and he creates an implicit attachment between them. It’s also revealed that he got a girl pregnant, refused to take responsibility for his actions, and was disinherited as a result. His financial crisis leads him to needing to marry someone rich, which he does.

Now, the guys I met did not necessarily match Willoughby’s plot (thankfully) nor will the Willoughby type in general (at least I hope they don’t). The Willoughby guy is the type who at first presents himself as charming and expresses an interest. Once this interest is reciprocated, they give the appearance of a desire to get to know a person. This desire, however, has an ulterior motive to serve their own means which are usually selfish.

How does one deal with a Willoughby type? By having the good sense to exercise sensibility.

*Buttmachine refers to title of a song. No, I’m serious. Google “Buttmachine song” and see for yourself.

 

The Jane Austen Social Scene Part VI: Captain Frederick Wentworth

Photo Source: fanpop.com

Photo Source: fanpop.com

Can I be completely honest about the Jane Austen Social Scene? I love Mr. Knightley and Mr. Darcy, of course, but it’s Captain Frederick Wentworth who, in my opinion, has the most romantic speech:

I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in F. W.

Captain Frederick Wentworth. Even his last name is telling of how far is he is willing to go to be able to be with the woman he loves, essentially making himself worthy (get it, he went and got worth?) to be with Anne. Note: it’s here that I defend Anne being persuaded the first time around to break off the engagement with him. Lady Russell was only trying to look out for Anne’s best interests because she didn’t want her to marry someone with questionable economic prospects.

The Captain Wentworth type is the man you rarely hear about encountering in real life, usually being the romantic archetype of romances where he is the male character who has only truly loved one woman his entire life and has worked so that she might consider him again the next time she sees him. Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot are a couple who broke up, drifted apart, and then went back to each other after several years.

So does the Captain Wentworth type exist outside of the realm of fiction? Perhaps a better question would be is it possible for a relationship to be like that of Wentworth and Elliot, where someone can break another’s heart but there is still a chance to redeem the love?

Maybe Austen titled the novel Persuasion to not only refer to the power of persuasion present in the novel, but for the novel to also serve as a tool to persuade us, as readers, to believe, just for a moment, that this love is possible.

The Jane Austen Social Scene Part V: Marianne Dashwood

Photo source: barnesandnoble.com

Photo source: barnesandnoble.com

Okay, confession time. I was apprehensive about writing about Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility. Marianne was a character I did not give a lot of thought to when I first read the novel except to think “Silly girl.” When I decided I was going to write about Marianne for The Jane Austen Social Scene, however, I had to give her more thought.

Sure, she makes her attraction to Willoughby very public to the point where everyone thinks that the two are engaged and then has to endure the embarrassment of finding out that he not only rejected her, he gets engaged to another woman for her money (ouch!). She’s spontaneous, a romantic, and seems to wear blinders when falling for Willoughby. The first time I read the novel I kept thinking “Someone needs to slow this girl down and tell her to think before she acts. She’s making an idiot of herself all for some guy!”

Making the decision to write about Marianne for this blog made me realize something I did not when I first read the book: I have a bit of Marianne in me. Hence, this post becoming a bit of a confession.

The Marianne Dashwood is someone who forms strong attachments to people they are interested in, not caring if they look slightly foolish or imprudent in making their interest known. Slightly naive in regards to love, the Marianne Dashwood type will come to understand their folly in time, usually after they find out that the person they were interested in does not necessarily return their affections in full. Upon accepting this, the Marianne Dashwood will move onto someone who actually loves them (Col. Brandon, anyone?).

The Jane Austen Social Scene Part IV: Mr. Darcy

Oh, Darcy.

Photo Source: ebookbees.com

Photo Source: ebookbees.com

One of Austen’s most beloved male characters, Mr. Darcy is a character seemingly synonymous with Jane Austen.  So, I got to thinking: what is it about Mr. Darcy that makes him so attractive?

I admit, Mr. Darcy was not my favorite Jane Austen character for a while.  He’s distant.  For all of his dissuading Mr. Bingley from proposing to Jane Bennet the first time around, he doesn’t exactly send clear signals to Elizabeth Bennet that he likes her.  When he does tell Elizabeth that he loves her, he also insults her family.  Hardly romance material.

And yet there’s still something attractive about Mr. Darcy.  He’s awkward.  He mucks things up at the beginning between him and Elizabeth but makes them right.  He acknowledges that he was wrong.

He’s not totally unlike a guy you’d encounter in real life.

The Mr. Darcy type is someone who is not best known for their clear communication of their feelings.  You might not be sure how they feel about you, or you might think they think of you at best in amiable terms.  The Mr. Darcy type is someone you are not initially attracted to, but later realize that you do like them.  And once you realize you like them, you find yourself unable to articulate a proper conversation with them.  It’s okay.  The Mr. Darcy type wins hearts mostly with their actions rather than their words…although their words are pretty memorable.

“In vain I have struggled.  It will not do.  My feelings will not be repressed.  You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” – Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

The Jane Austen Social Scene Part III

Happy New Year!

In honor of the New Year, I figured I would post about two of my favorite Jane Austen characters (okay, who am I kidding, they are two of my favorite overall literary characters as well): Emma Woodhouse from Emma and Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice.

Photo Source: fridayonmymind.hubpages.com

Photo Source: fridayonmymind.hubpages.com

Photo Source: ebookbees.com

Photo Source: ebookbees.com

I like to think that Emma and Elizabeth, or Lizzy as she’s often referred to, would be good friends.  Both are smart, witty, and social.  Both get involved at one point with guys who turn out to be liars.  On the surface, they can appear to have a lot of the same character traits.  Yet…

Emma is a homebody whereas Lizzy is not.  Although Emma is social, she is tied to her home and to her father, so much so that she tells Mr. Knightley that can’t marry him because it would hurt her father too much to have her move away from him.  Meanwhile, Lizzy travels with her aunt and uncle and moves to Pemberley after marrying Mr. Darcy.

Despite Emma being higher up socially than Lizzy and being more wealthy (at least when they are both single), I would say Lizzy actually has more physical mobility since Emma does not travel except on her honeymoon.  This lack of travel on Emma’s part is in large due to her care of her father who is constantly worrying.  I give a lot of kudos to Emma for her patience with her father, but I give more kudos to Lizzy for making her own decisions without worrying about how her parents might react (example: her rejection of Mr. Collins).

Lizzy is also more grounded than Emma, perceiving the world in a way that demonstrates more of an awareness about society than Emma has.  Does Lizzy try to persuade her friend Charlotte Lucas to call off the engagement to Mr. Collins because Lizzy does not particularly care for Mr. Collins?  No, Lizzy does not.  Emma, on the other hand, practically holds up a neon sign to let her friend Harriet Smith know what she thinks of the idea of Harriet marrying Mr. Martin; as a result, Harriet rejects Mr. Martin the first time around, potentially ruining her social prospects.  Both Emma and Lizzy can be naive when it comes to the society around them; however, given Emma’s elevated position this lack of awareness is more pronounced.

There are certainly more differences when it comes to these two.  Lizzy comes from a large family; Emma has a sister, but seems to suffer from only-child syndrome at times.  Lizzy is perhaps the more mature of the two characters whereas Emma has moments of immaturity such as her insulting behavior towards Miss Bates when they are on an outing in the county (again, lack of social awareness – poor Miss Bates really is poor Miss Bates).  What makes me love both of these characters so much though is that they both have great hearts.  Emma feels awful once she realizes the mistakes she’s made and seeks to remedy them immediately.  Lizzy understands how she let her bias cloud her better judgement.  To me, these two are some of the most “real” characters in the world of Jane Austen, characters I identify with within myself and with others (and those others are often my close friends).