For those of you who don't know, today is Jane Austen's birthday. She was born on December 16th, 1775, which means that if she were still alive, she would have turned 236 today! :)
I just had to give a little recognition to my very favorite fictional author. Jane Austen's stories are full of memorable characters and unforgettable moments. I think what I love most about her tales, however, is the character she gives to her...uh...characters. :) For instance, the noble Mr. Knightley, full of integrity, is never afraid to confront Emma when she's been unkind or thoughtless. Or how about playful Henry Tilney, who firmly sets Catherine straight about her horrible speculations regarding his father, and then lovingly forgives her? (For those of you who haven't read the book, she feels the warmth of his forgiveness the very next day, before she is sent back home.) Then there is proud Mr. Darcy, who tirelessly pursues Wickham and Lydia so that Lydia will not be abandoned, all because he loves Elizabeth. Elizabeth's influence makes him a better man than he was to begin with. And who could forget honorable Edward, who keeps his word even when his heart belongs to another, or sweet Colonel Brandon, who loves steadfastly and bears Marianne's scorn quietly until he is rewarded with her love in the end?
I have a harder time praising Edmund because of his foolish regard for Mary Crawford and the way he compromises his values due to the blindness of his love. Then I remind myself that we all make mistakes, and thankfully, Edmund realizes his in time. Captain Wentworth is hard to love at first as well. I can feel Anne's mortification as much as if it were my own every time I read the book. Of course, his coldness is completely understandable, considering how he was treated. And he has to take the prize for the best proposal...his note is worded so beautifully.
Jane's heroines are unforgettable as well. Fiery Elizabeth Bennet, saucy Emma Woodhouse, naive Catherine Morland, noble Elinor Dashwood, romantic Marianne Dashwood, shy Fanny Price, and steadfast Anne Elliot are as dear to me as real friends. I love reading about their adventures, learning from their mistakes and cheering for their happy endings.
Jane Austen's books hold something else that is sadly lacking in many of the stories that are currently being written. Her characters have integrity, honor, and display unconditional love. Not at all times, of course, for every story has to have its conflict. ;) But think of Elinor and Edward in "Sense and Sensibility". If that story were written today, Edward would dump Lucy without a thought because it "felt right" to be with Elinor. And most likely, the author would have had everyone sleeping with everyone else (I HATE it when they ruin a good story that way!!). Pride and Prejudice would not be nearly as meaningful, as Lydia and Wickham's living together wouldn't be a problem at all. Basically, every storyline written by Jane Austen would either be invalid or corrupted. [Side note here: I don't know if any of you have heard of "Lost in Austen", but I DO NOT recommend it. It was such a great story idea: someone from our world going back to the storyline of "Pride and Prejudice", basically switching places with Elizabeth Bennet. But that's about where the good stuff ends. While well-acted and well-cast with some admittedly hilarious parts, this adaptation destroys the story and makes today's loose morals the norm in Jane Austen's time period. Just to give you a few ideas of how bad it is, Mr. Bingley almost turns into a Wickham type character. He marries someone other than Jane, becomes a drunkard, and eventually leaves his wife for Jane. Wickham is shown to be almost a hero, Georgiana is a loose young woman...ugh! I can't even go on...and I haven't even shared some of the worst changes they made! I felt almost sick by the time I finished watching it! If you love Jane Austen's stories as they are, just do yourself a favor and avoid this movie at all costs!! Maybe someday someone will write a better version with the same idea.]
How different the relationships of our young people would be today if they did what was right, even when their heart was longing to do something different, as in Elinor and Edward's case. If they learned, as Emma did, that the truest love is often based on friendship. If they realized that love was worth patiently waiting for, like Anne Elliot, Colonel Brandon, and Fanny Price did. How much more fulfilling and meaningful life would be. Take note, all of you who are still waiting for your Mr. Darcy or Mr. Knightely! ;)
I will always treasure Jane Austen's stories, and look forward to sharing them with my daughters when they get a little bit older. Thank you, Jane Austen, for leaving behind your wonderful tales for all of us to enjoy and learn from years later. Happy Birthday! :)
P.S. For any other Jane Austen fans out there, be sure to stop by "Yet Another Period Drama", where you have an opportunity to write a birthday card to Jane Austen from one of her fictional characters! :) Click HERE for details.