Thursday, October 20, 2011

Elinor Dashwood

In my opinion, Jane Austen is one of the best authors of all time. I know every girl who has read Pride and Prejudice has expressed that same belief at some point in their lives but it's really true. Any male reading this blog post is probably groaning right now and perhaps thinking about moving on to something more interesting to peruse but before you do, let me explain myself. Jane Austen not only developed beautifully written love stories; she aptly expressed the female human experience. The reason her novels seem timeless is because she created characters that women of all generations can relate to. Like Emma Woodhouse, we think of ourselves as excellent matchmakers for everyone else around us but are somewhat inept and clueless when trying to find a match for ourselves. Who has not been annoyed by all the Lydia Bennetts in the world? Like Anne Elliot, many of us have felt like we've lost all chances at happiness because of a mistake we made long ago. Who has not felt the same sting that Fanny Price felt when the man she loved fell for someone else? Like Catherine Morland, many of us get lost in the plots of thrilling novels and wish that our lives were just as exciting as the lives of those who inhabit the page.

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.

Elinor Dashwood

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."

Marianne Dashwood
As in every Jane Austen novel, there is a man. Not only do Elinor and I have the same kind of personal attributes, we also have the same taste in men. Edward Ferrars is her type of guy guessed it! He's mine too.

Edward Ferrars

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. :)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Time to Read

With my parents' recent move, I have been entrusted with much of my family's book collection. At least 100 books made the trip from Concord, California to reside with me here in Provo, Utah. At first, I didn't know what to do with all of them. But with my current state of unemployment, I have found that I do have something to do with them: I HAVE TIME TO READ THEM!

So far this fall, I have read:
- The Help by Katheryn Stockett
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I am currently reading:
- Our First Revolution: The Remarkable British Upheaval That Inspired America's Founding Fathers by Michael Barone
- The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
- Dragonsinger by Anne McCaffrey
- Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (Brigitte is delivering it to me tonight and I am delving into it as soon as it comes.)
- God Wants a Powerful People by Sheri Dew
- Out of the Shadows by Sarah Singleton

I still need to read:
- Friends of Liberty: Thomas Jefferson, Tadeusz Kosciuszko, and Agrippa Hull by Nash and Hodges
- General George Washington: A Military Life by Edward G. Lengel
- John Paul Jones: Sailor, Hero, Father of the American Navy by Evan Thomas
- Freedom's Prophet: Bishop Richard Allen, the AME Church, and the Black Founding Fathers by Richard S. Newman
- America's Constitution: A Biography by Akhil Reed Amar
- Hard Times by Charles Dickens
- A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
- Just So Stories & The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
- The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
- The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke

I also want to re-read some other books. I want to read the whole Harry Potter series again, The Count of Monte Cristo, Ella Enchanted, A Series of Unfortunate Events, all of the Jane Austen books...Obviously, this list is going to take me a while but if you have any more suggestions of good books to read, let me know. I'm always up for a good book :)