What Jane Austen Did to Me
From where it all started.
"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."
This is what you start with, in one of Jane Austen's most loved books "Pride and Prejudice". To be honest, I was taken aback by these lines the first time I set my eyes on them, and for some reason I decided "I am not going to like the book" , my 21st century ideology could never accept what the 1813 novel put forward, in its very first page, I would as well have put the book down and never read it for the rest of my life. Oh! and what a disaster that would have been. I would have missed out on reading a fine masterpiece by a pioneer of feminism in literature (whom I first had the audacity to judge). I realise that the starting line is merely an introduction to the story and also that this is a fact (no matter how many times I deny it) that (good looking) single men loaded with money are potential husband material.
"Do not consider me now as an elegant female intending to plague you, but as a rational creature speaking the truth from her heart."
— Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice
Elizabeth Bennet my (s) hero . . .
Clearly that girl, Elizabeth Bennet, she had bewitched me body and soul (sorry Darcy, but I couldn't put it better myself) . No, it wasn't because she was the ideal wife material(either/wink/wink), it was because she wasn't one. She was an 'individual'(slow claps!) and in the entire book she is that one woman who could actually think,and this is the protagonist Jane Austen wanted to present,she is the woman I fell in love with, who didn't give a damn about the society, she knew what she wanted, she could always standup for herself.
"There is a stubbornness about me that never can bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.”
To be put in a better way,no man could ever impress her, she was never looking forward to finding a rich husband, she was this girl who loved to read, her father's favourite daughter, some one who hated the guy who didn't want to dance with her, she was me! She was every girl I have known.
“My good opinion once lost, is lost forever.”
The love stories . . .
Well this was obviously a love story, right. With the arrival of the eligible bachelor, the ball he arranged and of how the reader looks on with pity, as the young women flock to his mansion and with it the Bennet family. This was meant to happen, Mr Bingley had to fall for Jane, but that was just the parallel story,the starter before the main course (and desserts of course )
This was entirely about someone's pride and someone's prejudice, how people are not always what we thought they were, Jane Austen changed my entire outlook on the topic, I developed an empathetic attachment to Lizzie, and with her I was getting to know him,Mr. Darcy, hating him at first,judging every thing he did and in the end slowly falling in love with him. Its been 8-9 years since the first time I came across Mr. Darcy, since the first time I fell for him.
“But people themselves alter so much, that there is something new to be observed in them for ever.”
And finally Mr. Darcy
“You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”
Now who could say no to that.Mr Darcy was everything I wanted in my man. He wasn't portrayed as the ideal man(irrespective of his good looks and money) he was deceitful and we all hated him at first. But the story follows his transition,how that last person we wish to be with becomes the very person we can't do without.
He knew how to talk to women,he knew! And good Lord that proposal why don't men do that in real life !?
This is what Jane Austen did to me, she gave me (us) Mr. Darcy, and we've been forever waiting for him, hoping that we'll find him some day, how we'll fight it out at first and then fall in love.
Back to the question
See what she did to me,
- Kind of ruined my love life, now that I am searching for Mr. Darcy in every guy I meet.
- Taught me that, be it 1813 or 2019,women like Elizabeth will never have to settle for anything less than the best.
- People like Mr Bennet exist,who would never let his daughter marry someone who doesn't deserve her.
- Whatever twisted her ways were, whatever tantrums she did throw Mrs Bennet was what she was supposed to be, a mother! And we can't judge her idea of the happy life she wanted for her kids.
- And finally how all bad people aren't bad and how all good people aren't good.
Jane Austen will forever be my favourite and her book shall stand every test of time, for it is dedicated to every woman who doesn't compromise with what she is forced upon, every man who loves his woman the right way, every father like Mr.Bennet. This isn't a story for the 19 th century nor the 21st century this is a book way ahead of its time.
"Nothing is more deceitful…than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast.”
© 2019 Amrutha Balachandran