Then I watched the really old 6-part miniseries of Emma (because it’s an instant download on Netflix).
And whenever I finish reading anything by Jane Austen, no matter how many times I’ve read it, my brain starts thinking in old English. And, upon my word, it is quite tiresome. I half expect a servant to announce my arrival as I go from room to room.
You may recall that I’m an adoring Austen fan. I can’t really discern why, as I’m not extremely formal nor romantic; nevertheless, I can return to her books and the adaptions of them over and over again and never find them tedious. Sorry, I just can’t get the tainted language out. I shall exert myself.
Anyway, Emma has never been my favorite Austen heroine. Like Mr. Knightley does on occasion, I find her indulged and careless. But this time around, I saw a lot of myself in Emma, and that surprised me. For the first time, I realized some parallels between her love story and my own, especially how she tried to help a friend to make a match and was surprised to find out that his affections were directed toward herself. (Of course, in her case, it led to shock and disgust. In my case it led to shock and then marriage.) Also, like Emma, I like to laugh, and sometimes I find myself in an annoying situation (for those familiar with the novel, think about the outing on Box Hill), and I use my own humor or wit to make it tolerable. Once at a boring and tiny-bit contentious PTO meeting, I cracked a few jokes to “lighten things up” a little, and like Emma did with Miss Bates, ended up offending someone unintentionally. So, when I saw the comparison, I too felt personally rebuked by Mr. Knightley when he expressed his disappointment in her– “Badly done, Emma. Badly done.” — and I felt her shame as she rode home in the carriage in tears. I’m still not sure what to make of the fact that I’m more like a character I’ve never really liked than I thought I was.
I like to think that the Austen heroine I’m most like is Elinor from Sense and Sensibility. In many ways, I relate to her the most. She is the oldest child, the responsible one. She is practical and realistic, but has deep feelings. She is clever and consoling and gives good advice. I like Elinor. I love Lizzie from Pride and Prejudice, too, especially for her wit and spunk. One thing I like about both of them is that they do not have a brooding nature; they forge on with what must be done even when they are suffering or confused. My favorite heroine is Anne Elliott from Persuasion. I don’t think I am like her, because she is too kind and patient, but she is the character I most admire.
How about you? I know there are some more Austen fans out there. Who is your favorite heroine and why? And which one do you think you are the most like? We’ll have to save the discussion of favorite male characters for another day. Good heavens, that deserves a discussion of its own.
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