No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy would have supposed her born to be a heroine. Her situation in life, the character of her father and mother, her own person and disposition, were all equally against her.
It’s a delightful way to begin a story, and reveal a truth. We can change, learn, think and grow. Even if we aren’t right now, we can become the heroes and heroines of our own stories. Human nature writ-large may be static, but we as individuals are not. We grow, change, discover our flaws and work to amend them. We seek higher ground and doggedly walk that path.
Her most beloved heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, from Pride and Prejudice backs this up,
“…But vanity, not love, has been my folly. Pleased with the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other, on the very beginning of our acquaintance, I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away, where either were concerned. Till this moment I never
Now, Catherine and Lizzy don’t overturn their presuppositions and refine their thinking all at once. We never believe it if they did. Austen’s books are carefully drawn journeys of self-discovery. Her young heroines learn who they are, where they stand, and who they want to be over time – and if that comes with love, all the better. Catherine constantly sparred with the quixotic Henry – her education was challenging and slow. She had to break old patterns and expectations – her thirst for good gothic drama, for one. Lizzy needed to recognize she was fallible. Her education was almost the opposite of Catherine’s. One came at the world with wide-eyed naiveté, and the other with a cynical belief in her complete understanding and control.
Like Catherine, we can see mystery, pain, subterfuge and drama where only a laundry list exists. And like Lizzy, we often don’t pay attention to what’s around us and make discerning judgments. We judge on what we think we know rather than reality.
But standing still is not their story – nor is it ours. And, for me, January 2018 is great time to begin paying attention and doggedly walking that hill. 🙂
Have a great day!