Like many other girls out there who have found kindred spirits among Jane Austen's heroines, I feel particularly drawn to a certain one. If I were a character in a Jane Austen novel, I would be Elinor Dashwood of Sense and Sensibility.
Jane Austen describes Elinor as one who "had an excellent heart; her disposition was affectionate." Though I do not pretend to have an excellent heart, I do feel that I am a quietly affectionate person. I have a habit of sacrificing my own comfort and wishes so as not to inconvenience others. I do genuinely care about people and am concerned about their well-being. I hate being inconsiderate.
Jane Austen also said of Elinor that "her feelings were strong: but she knew how to govern them." I have always been rather reserved to the point that some think I do not feel the average range of emotions. For example, after arriving home from a date with a guy whose company I thoroughly enjoyed, my roommates peppered me with questions about how the date went. I calmly told them what happened and then proceeded to prepare for bed. Exasperated with my lack of emotion, one of my roommates exclaimed, "Celia! What the heck! Can you show a little bit of excitement, please?" Behind the facade of sense and practicality, however, there is a fountain of sensibility that often overflows. I may not express my feelings outwardly all the time but, believe me, I feel it inwardly :)
Like Elinor, I have a strong sense of propriety. If there are rules set, I generally try to follow them. I become uncomfortable around those who disobey laws of custom. For example, when someone I hardly know starts telling me their dirty little secrets or tries to delve into my personal life, I quickly try to change the subject to a lighter topic that is more suitable to a first encounter. I am also uncomfortable around those who are overly dramatic. Life gets boring without some degree of drama but those people who, like Elinor's sister Marianne, can not contain themselves, whose sorrows and joys "could have no moderation," are people I sometimes have difficulty being around for too long. I'll admit that I am disapproving of those who, in my eyes, "set propriety at naught."
I have always had a weakness for guys who are similar to myself. They are generally fairly reserved, kind, and quietly opinionated. They seem kind of shy until you get to know them and find that they have a great sense of humor and perhaps don't take things as seriously as you thought they had. As you can imagine, though, this personality combination does not make for productive and fast-paced courtship. I am the type of person who, in Marianne's words, "hides my regard" so as not to seem too forward. The guessing-game that develops usually results in a conviction that he "felt only friendship for me." Wonderful, right? It's in cases like these where I wish I could be like Marianne who wears her heart out on her sleeve and is able to express exactly how she feels.
There you have it. Seriously men. If you want to understand girls, read some Jane Austen. If you're incredibly annoyed by the time you've finished one of her novels, at least you will have gotten some new-found knowledge and enlightenment out of the ordeal. :)