I was introduced to Jane Austen at the age of 12 by my mom. She handed me her copy of Pride and Prejudice and I was hooked after the first chapter. I stayed up late several nights in a row to finish it and decided that I wanted to be just like Elizabeth Bennett.
Lizzie Bennett is sassy and opinionated. She’s exciting. She is fiercely loyal to the people she loves . Once she had sobered a bit due to family tragedy, she still held her own against the terribly unpleasant Lady Catherine de Bourgh.
Even better she won the heart of Mr. Darcy.
Who doesn’t want to be Mrs. Darcy?! (If the whole Austen-inspired genre of books that popped up with the last few years is any indication, I’d hazard a guess to say that very few women would fit that description.)
As it turns out, however, I’ve become more like Persuasion‘s Anne Elliot than feisty Elizabeth Bennett. Anne is the spinster sister who jilted her true love years before and now just shows up when her family and friends need her. My family isn’t nearly as obnoxious as Anne’s (and I didn’t jilt my true love) but she has become the Austen heroine whom I relate to the most.
When it comes to being a singleton who loves her family, that’s what one does. You show up. You support. You attempt to dissipate the occasional feud by listening to both sides and injecting them with a dose of good, old fashioned reason. (Admittedly, that does backfire sometimes but it’s worth a shot, right?)
And Anne speaks the truth about the female heart: “We certainly do not forget you as soon as you forget us.” She says to Captain Harville-a good friend of her love Captain Wentworth. “It is, perhaps, our fate rather than our merit. We cannot help ourselves.” (Isn’t that the truth?!)
All in all, I’ve found it so interesting how life experience and maturity has changed my view of a most-beloved set of books. Even though-truth be told-I would still give my eye teeth to be Mrs. Darcy.
Has your view of Austen (or any other timeless author) changed as you matured?