As I was thinking about the subject for something entirely different, I started to ponder the many different faces of love – affection, friendship, sibling love, parental love, all the varying familial love, romantic love, sacrificial love, God love.
I also thought about what makes a good life? Or, in keeping with what we discuss here, a good story? And I concluded that in either, lived or experienced on the page, it’s a story of depth, richness and fullness – a multi-faceted reflection of love.
And – as we all know or we wouldn’t ADORE her – Jane Austen gives us that. She doesn’t give us simple romantic stories. Yes, Boy does meet Girl, something bad does happen (Mr. Darcy calls Lizzy “tolerable”), hurdles must be leaped, and eventually, for those worthy, all does end happily…
But let’s look a little closer…
Look at Mrs. Jennings in Sense & Sensibility, generally clueless, but a woman who wants the best for Marianne and seeks to help her in any way possible. And when Marianne is sobbing in heartbreak, she hopes to stopper the tears by tempting Marianne “to eat every delicacy in the house.” That’s love.
Look at Mr. Knightley, from Emma, who puts Emma’s character development above his own interests when he “talks” with her after the Box Hill picnic. Colonel Brandon and his love for Marianne in S&S might come to mind at this moment as well. Both these men love these women, but are willing to put that aside for their beloved’s best, whatever that may entail.
“This is not pleasant to you, Emma – and it is very far from pleasant to me; but I must, I will, — I will tell you truths while I can, satisfied with proving myself your friend by very faithful counsel, and trusting that you will some time or other do me greater justice than you can do now.”
Look at Persuasion’s Anne Eliot who stays with her querulous sister Mary and quiets her tongue over and over when her insipid and vain family members, primarily sister Elizabeth and father Sir Walter, open their mouths to spout spoiled nonsense – constantly.
“Then I take it for granted,” observed Sir Walter, “that his face is about as orange as the cuffs and capes of my livery.”
And page in and page out, we can look at Marianne and Elinor (S&S) and Elizabeth and Jane (P&P, of course) – sisters who may disagree or even argue (okay, Lizzy & Jane never argue) – but who ALWAYS show up for one another. Sibling love at its best!
Please share with me some of your favorite scenes. I believe these constitute some of her most delightful moments – deliciously depicted; intricately woven and so compelling that they draw us back to her again and again.
Thanks for visiting and Happy April!