Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Austen characters in our lives.

Every time I reread a Jane Austen novel, I am once again drawn in by the characters. I love how accurate they are. I think that's one of the reasons why Austen's novels are still so popular: her realistic portrayals of people you meet every day. I find myself comparing people in her stories to people I know. Here are some of Austen's characters that I feel that I have met:

Miss Bates: aka, the Talker

Oh, Miss Bates. We love her, we really do. She is kind and means well, but we just wish we could get a word in edgewise. The Miss Bates of the world are not necessarily female. They are sometimes bachelors or spinsters, but not always. They talk constantly and never seem to have to take a breath. Sometimes we try to avoid them, especially if we're in a hurry to get somewhere. But when we have some extra time, we really don't mind sitting down and having a one-sided conversation with Miss Bates.

Mr. Woodhouse: aka, the Worrier

Mr. Woodhouses are rarely at peace. They worry, worry, worry...about the weather and health issues most of the time, but other things are also of concern. Most Mr. Woodhouses are elderly, especially in the form of grandparents. They always believe that they know best when it comes to the things they worry about. Be sure to never encounter a Mr. Woodhouse if the temperature is below 65 degrees and you are not wearing a proper shawl, sweater, or jacket.

Lydia Bennet: aka, the Flirt

Lydia Bennets are most often young, pretty teenage girls, although they can really be women of any age. They exhibit strange behavior in the presence of any eligible male: behaviors such as the fluttering of eyelashes, uncontrollable giggles, and the intentional dropping of handkerchiefs, pencils, or whatever happens to be in their hands at the time. The rest of us girls feel embarrassed by the Lydia Bennets because of the lack of dignity and propriety in their words and actions.

Elinor Dashwood: aka, the Practical One

Elinor Dashwoods are sweet people, the kind of people that you want to be friends with. They are reserved, quiet, and very practical. They usually don't express their emotions, which can be a harmful thing if they're bottled up for too long. They are very loyal to their close friends and tend to put other people before themselves. Sometimes they need to learn to let go and just enjoy life.

Lady Catherine de Bourgh: aka, the Snob

Lady Catherine, we are not very fond of you. Although most of us don't know many millionaires, we all know a few people who are more privileged than us and who love to flaunt the fact. Lady Catherines are arrogant and rude snobs. They believe themselves to be higher than the rest of us, which means they don't have to follow our rules: they have their own set. Unless it's absolutely necessary for us to be with them, usually only Lady Catherines enjoy and seek out the company of other Lady Catherines.

Emma Woodhouse: aka, the Matchmaker

Emma Woodhouses can be of any age, but it is almost guaranteed that they are female. They themselves may be married or single, but they believe it their duty to find suitable spouses for all of the single people of their acquaintance. They may go about this in a subtle way or an obvious way. In general, these matches are not successful. We wish that the Emma Woodhouses would leave matchmaking up to God and stop trying to set us up with dates.

Lizzie Bennet: aka, the Wit

Most of us wish that we were more like the Lizzie Bennets. They are funny and clever. Their responses are so witty that we want to write them down so perhaps we could use them one day. They do have their faults and prejudices, but they are so likable that we can overlook them. Lizzie Bennets know how to have good, healthy relationships, even with those who are hard to love. They do, however, speak their minds and occasionally enjoy a little verbal sparring.

Mr. Collins: aka, the Creep

Okay, so Mr. Collinses are not always creeps, or at least in the usual sense. They do have the remarkable ability to make anyone and everyone feel extremely uncomfortable. They are awkward and bumbling and often try to be something they are not. In the right company, they might grow to be quite bearable. But in the wrong sort of company, their flaws are only more exaggerated. We usually try to avoid Mr. Collinses, especially if we feel that they are developing an affection for us. Even if they do not go as far as to propose marriage, it can still result in a very sticky situation.

Mr. Darcy: aka, the Hunk (ha...sorry, I couldn't resist)

Mr. Darcys are not nearly as common as these other characters. In fact, I personally have only met one young man who showed Darcy-like characteristics, and I did not know him very well so I may have been mistaken. Sometimes if we meet Mr. Darcys only briefly, we may mistake them for someone else because of their seemingly proud, cold exterior. If you become better acquainted, however, you may discover that you have met a true Mr. Darcy. True Mr. Darcys are loyal, kind, devoted, honest, and respectful (in other words, most everything you want in a future husband).

Mr. Willoughby and Mr. Wickham: aka, the Scoundrels

Things are not always as they appear. That is the one lesson you can learn from the Mr. Willoughbys and Mr. Wickhams of the world. These fellows may appear to be Mr. Darcys on first glance, but you soon learn (hopefully before it is too late) that they are rotten. Mr. Willoughbys and Mr. Wickhams are so similar that they can really be grouped together, but there is a small difference. Mr. Willoughbys may have a good heart but, by bad friends or unfortunate circumstances, have headed down the wrong path. Mr. Wickhams, however, have had all of the possibly advantages in life but still choose to do wrong. We should avoid these men at all costs and encourage our sisters (and friends) to do so as well.

So...which Austen characters do you feel that you encounter most in life (of all of them, not just the ones mentioned here)? Which Austen character do you believe you are most like? I think, on my best days, I am a mix of Lizzie Bennet, Elinor Dashwood, and Anne Elliot. What about you?

Until next time,


  1. oooo! so true!

    hmmm. not jane austen-y but I know a "cynthia" for sure! the head-turner. hah

  2. I always thought of Mr. Darcy as "The Quiet One". I always felt connected to his character in that way... I am very quiet as well! lol

    Allison Elizabeth♥

  3. This was brilliant! I loved each description, and I too would identify first with Elizabeth Bennett, then Elinor, then Anne.


  4. You spelled Elizabeth's name incorrectly!!! It is actually "Lizzy." According to the book!


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