But, briefly, when I was in first year, I wrote a paper about the downside of Elizabeth Bennet's happy ending. My point was that Elizabeth, like Sophia in Tom Jones, had to sacrifice everything she stood for and believed in to fit the author's idea of a happy ending. Which, in turn, fit the expectations of their time.
Drop Elizabeth in 2009, and Mr. Darcy's a snob she best wave off. (Ten years on I kind of think the world is lacking in Mr. Darcys, though.) And Sophia? Tom Jones is a ridiculous, Don Juan-lite figure. If he'd been a little more strategic and a little less accident-prone, he'd have been the John Mayer of the 18th Century. Girl: Walk Away.
Similarly -- spoiler alert -- Marianne Dashwood is a victim of her happy ending. Yes, marrying Colonel Brandon sets her for life. Even though he's 19 years older than her. And poorly drawn. And boring as all get-out.
I'm obviously not the first person to say that in the last 200 years. Sorry. And don't even get me started on my dislike of Edward Ferrars. He goes bumbling through the book, all, "Oops, did I lead you on? Did I not mention I'm engaged? Well, if I'm lucky, I'll get dumped, and we'll get married and I'll irritate the hell out of you forever, Elinor!"
But here's an excerpt from near the end of the book -- as if Austen herself were really reaching to tie it all up with a neat little bow:
Marianne Dashwood was born to an extraordinary fate. She was born toI have a feeling that, in late-18th/early-19th century parlance, the flannel waistcoat is the rough equivalent to the windbreaker.
discover the falsehood of her own opinions, and to counteract by her conduct her
most favourite maxims. She was born to overcome an affection formed so late in
life as at seventeen, and with no sentiment superior to strong esteem and lively
friendship, voluntarily to give her hand to another -- and that other, a man who
had suffered no less than herself under the event of a former attachment whom,
two years before, she had considered too old to be married, and who still sought
the constitutional safeguard of a flannel waistcoat!
In other news....
- The next book club selection is Obasan. No date yet set for discussion, but the next hostess is crossing her fingers the novel gets the TSS Cool Seal of Approval.
- I love this bit from the April Vogue profile of Beyonce Knowles: "One senses that Beyonce wants to join the very small pantheon of pop superstars -- Cher, Diana, Barbra -- who went on to big dramatic-film careers. If she stays away from silly movies like Obsessed, she might actually have a shot at it...." Yow.
- I'm taking a low-brow (?) detour, reading Love the One You're With. Basic premise so far? Happily married woman happens to pass an ex-boyfriend on a random street in New York, sending her into a spiral. Excerpt?
"My favourite movie of all time is probably When Harry Met Sally....
What I had yet to learn, though, is that things are seldom as neat and tidy
as that starry-eyed anecdote you share documentary-style on a couch. What I
figured out over time is that almost always, when you hear those stories
from married couples, there is a little poetic license going on, a romantic
spin, polished to a high shine over time. And unless you marry your high
school sweetheart (and even sometimes then), there is usually a not-so-glorious back story. There are people and places and events that lead you to your final relationship, people and places and events you'd prefer to forget or at least gloss over. In the end, you can slap a pretty label on it -- like serendipity or fate. Or you can believe that it's just the random way life unfolds." (p. 7-8)