The Jane Austen Social Scene Part IX: Marriage and Friendship

pride-and-prejudice-wedding-scene

(Photo source: themerrybride.files.wordpress.com)

Emma Woodhouse and Miss Taylor. Elizabeth “Lizzy” Bennet and Charlotte Lucas. What do these pairs have in common? They each represent a pair of Jane Austen characters whose friendships were altered when one of them married. It then became Emma Woodhouse and Mrs. Weston. Elizabeth Bennet and Mrs. Collins.

One of the motifs of Austen’s novels is that of marriage. I would argue that a more specific theme would be how marriage alters friendships between female characters. Regardless of whether or not the marriage is to a likable character, such as Mr. Weston, or to a not so well liked character, such as Mr. Collins, the institution of marriage impacts the friendship and usually in a way that weakens it. Look at Lizzy and the former Miss Lucas: sure, Lizzy visits her friend and new hubby at their home, but Charlotte is no longer the friend Lizzy could confide in and gossip to at the beginning of the novel.

Austen’s observations regarding marriage and friendship ring true today. In getting married, the woman takes on the additional identity of someone’s wife, a role society promotes with traditional connotations. In other words, in marrying, the spouse is expected to become the priority while pre-existing relationships take a back seat. It’s no wonder that when Harriet Smith tells Emma about Robert Martin’s initial marriage proposal, Emma’s reaction is to persuade her friend to turn him down; in her eyes, she’s already lost one friend to a marriage, and she’s not about to lose another.

Does putting a ring on it mean putting an end to a friendship? Not necessarily. But it does mean that the friendship will not be the same as before.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Project Thankful: Reason #200

Most of my friends do not read this blog.

I’m pretty sure no one in my family reads this blog.

I have not told most of my friends or family about this blog nor do I plan to.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very proud of this blog.  I love blogging and being a blogger.  I also love the anonymity that comes with blogging.  You can follow a person’s blog, but you might not necessarily recognize the blogger in person if they were sitting across from you on a train.  For me, that works because in person, I hate talking about myself and sharing my thoughts.  

Hence, why I love blogging.

Oscar Wilde once said “Man is least himself when he talks in his own person.  Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”  This blog is my mask.  It’s what allows me to talk openly about my writing and about what’s going on in my life.  

I was thinking about this topic yesterday.  Some of what I’ve posted on this blog is in regards to my friendships.  All I could think was, “If my friends read some of the postings, there would be a confrontation.”  I do not like to cause drama with my friends, and so if I’m upset or have a problem, I tend to remain silent.  This blog breaks my silence.

Project Thankful: Reason #170

I told one of my friends yesterday about how I’ll be moving to New Hampshire, and they were less than supportive.  “And how are you going to afford this?” was their response.  I had told another friend of mine about the decision to attend the college in New Hampshire over one in Boston I made and how hard it was deciding, and her response was, “Yeah.  And the Boston one would be cheaper.”

How a person reacts to news of something major in your life tells a lot about them and about the quality of friend they are.  And if they’re worth keeping in your life.

I think the most upsetting thing about my friends’ reactions is what they implied.  Money is a concern for most people, but in phrasing it as they did, they implied that I couldn’t afford it and/or I wasn’t being smart about money.  It’s one thing to be bitter, to be jealous, to be sad, but it’s another thing entirely to cross a personal line.  And that’s exactly what they did.

So why am I blogging this post under “Project Thankful”?  Well, I look at it this way: I’m grateful for this experience for showing me that I should have no hard feelings leaving those people behind when I move away.  And for allowing me to turn the characters in my novels who they inspired into villains.  

Writing is one of the best forms of revenge.

Project Thankful: Reason #163

On June 26, 2012, I underwent a colonoscopy and endoscopy to determine what was causing my intense abdominal pain.  That was the day my doctor discovered that I have Celiac Disease, and two weeks later at my follow-up appointment, I found out the diagnosis in person.

My life completely changed as soon as I found out I have Celiac Disease.  It’s not just about changing your diet; it’s about changing your lifestyle.  And that includes re-evaluating who is really worth having in your life.

I’m lucky to have friends who are very sympathetic towards my Celiac Disease.  They ask how I’m doing, dealing with it, and demonstrate an interest in learning about Celiac Disease and how it impacts me.  They are careful when we go out to eat, calling ahead to make sure a place has gluten-free options and/or alerting wait staff to the fact that I can not eat gluten.

Then there are the friends who don’t get it and choose not to get it.  They don’t ask how I’m dealing with it, their expressions make it visible that they don’t want to hear about it, and they just don’t look out for me when it comes to being gluten-free, such as not having gluten-free something available for me when I go over their house.  The kicker?  They live right down the street from a Whole Foods.

I’m at a point in my life where I’m moving forward.  That means reflecting on the people who deserve to be in my life, preserving the relationships with people who have shown they care, and slowly leaving behind those who don’t.

 

Confessions Of A Writer #16

In “Confessions Of A Writer #15” I talked about the importance of surrounding yourself with supportive people.  Adding to that, Confessions Of A Writer #16 is this:

Surround yourself with honest people.

To do this, you first have to be honest with yourself.  How open are you to criticism?  Feedback?  If someone critiques your work or tells you something you do not particularly like, how will you respond?  Are you willing to accept their response and see it as constructive?  Or does the thought of someone critiquing you or your work make you want to hide under the covers and nail the covers to the bed?

Don’t take honesty as an insult.  It takes a lot of courage for a person to be honest with you.  Rather than dismiss their honesty, appreciate that they were brave enough to be open with you.  Acknowledge what they are saying.  As much is it might sting, what they are saying is not meant to hurt you; instead, the person is trying to help you.  Because at its core, honesty is constructive.

You want to surround yourself with supportive people.  In addition to being supportive, the people should also be honest.  You don’t want a bunch of people who constantly say “yes” to you and agree with you, do you?  Where will that get you?  Not very far.

And just as you should have honest people in your life, you too should be honest with the people in your life.  Because if you can not be honest with the people in your life, how do you expect them to be honest with you?

Confessions Of A Writer #15

I originally posted this on The Consultant (www.theconsultantblog.com), one of my other blogs.  I’ll post it here too, though, because as I was writing it, I realized it is a Confessions Of A Writer post as much as it is a Consultant post.

 

Surround Yourself With Supportive People

Everyone needs support in their life.  And while the title of this post might seem obvious, the sometime reality for many of us is that the people we think are supportive, are there for us, turn out not be as supportive as we initially thought.

To achieve success as well as our maximum potential, we need to surround ourselves with truly supportive people.  People who bring constant positivity to the relationship rather than negativity.  Does that mean those people have to always be happy and smiling?  Of course not, but their conversations should not include criticizing you and not encouraging you.

Again, you might be thinking you know all this already.  But stop for a minute and think about the people in your life and really assess how supportive they are.  When you mention that you are taking on a new endeavor, doing something different or atypical of you, do they respond with encouragement or raised eyebrows and change the subject?

You do not want to lead a toxic life.  Toxic people lead to a toxic life.

I have talked about the importance of building connections with people and continually putting value into those connections.  You must give yourself permission to shut down connections with toxic people.  While it might seem going against the advice on connections, being connected to a toxic person will only impede your path to success.

Sometimes it’s hard because you’ve known the person for many years and remember that they weren’t always a toxic personality.  You refer to your history with the person to justify keeping the connection.  Yet history is the past and we live in the present with our relationships.  Yes, the person was not always a toxic person; hopefully that is an indication that they need to work out whatever is causing their present personality and change something within their life.  As long as the person maintains their toxic personality, you ought to avoid them.  You are not their therapist, or psychiatrist, or doctor; you are someone who supports them, but expects them to support you as well.  If they are in a negative state, they become a drain as you are supporting them but they are not supporting you in return.

Allow yourself to remove the negative in your life.  You deserve to be happy with the people in your life.