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.

 

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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.

 

 

 

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

Refusing to be a Benchwarmer

I refuse to be a benchwarmer.

I refuse to engage in bench warming behavior as it pertains to my career, my relationships, and my personal life.

In other words, I refuse to hold myself back.

A benchwarmer is someone who holds a spot for someone while that someone is off somewhere.  A benchwarmer agrees to be said benchwarmer through a verbal agreement between the benchwarmer and other, second person whereby the other person asks/tells the benchwarmer to “Watch/Hold my seat” while they go off for an indeterminate amount of time, only to return at their convenience.

I used to be a benchwarmer.  I didn’t move forward with my career because I thought what would come by moving forward from where I was at in my career would make me lose my seat, make me lose any opportunity whatsoever to have a career or that any move from where I was at in my career wouldn’t end up being a move forward; rather, it would just be a different spot in the same row.  I was also a benchwarmer when it came to relationships.  I’d meet someone, we’d date, but then they would tell me, either directly or indirectly, that “It’s just not a good time right now (fill in the blank with any number of “reasons” aka excuses).”  So, I would enter in a benchwarmer relationship where I would allow myself to hold a spot for this person in my life, believing that they would eventually come back to take their seat next to me.  Finally, I would be a benchwarmer when it came to my personal life because I would allow things to remain as they were when it came to my family, my friends, my habits, my hobbies, etc.

Do you know what kind of a life a benchwarmer has?  A stagnant one.  Just like stagnant water, a benchwarmer can only attract one thing: mosquitoes.

Nothing good comes out of being a benchwarmer.  Because when you’re a benchwarmer, all you do is wait, and you end up missing a lot of the action.