Sunday, October 19, 2008

Musings on love in generations gone by.

This is merely a stream of consciousness post as I am watching "Becoming Jane" while sitting at home alone ( can that be? Hubs is at church with J while I am sitting home nursing a hurt back). Feel like a heathen for not listening to a sermon or something. But the chance to sit here and watch a chick flick is too appealing.

Consider this to be a form of "live-blogging" or something.....

Onto my musings...

1) "Affection is desirable. Money is absolutely indispensable." Jane's mom, at hearing Jane say that she will not marry without affection. Her mom replies that she (the mom) married for affection, and "look where that got me...I have to dig my own potatoes."

It is easy for us twenty-first women to judge the "money is indispensable" attitude, but at the time, Jane had no option for employment herself. Not really. Women, of a certain class, could not work, had no option for education except at home, and were unable to own property on their own (a fact that wasn't remedied in England, and the U.S. until shockingly recently.)

While we modern women judge Jane's position to be the "right" one, surely we can understand her mother's concern: no one wants poverty for their child.

2) Remarkable how this movie seems to mirror Pride and Prejudice, as if that work was almost autobiographical.

3) Love the costumes. Personally, I think it would be altogether fabulous if the men I know wore waistcoats and cravats on a regular basis. And frankly, I wouldn't mind wearing empire-waisted dresses. The corsets could go, though. And you never see any pregnant women....did they not go out and do stuff after they started "showing"?

4) "When a young woman such as yourself receives the attentions of a man such as my nephew, the young woman is obliged to accept." WOW. Surely that line is designed to fire up our modern passions. And of course, the nephew in question is a bit of a dullard, though not horrible like the cousin in P and P.

5) And then, and THEN, she kisses the love interest, the lovely Irishman.....who has no money and no property, but he LOVES her. Gosh, I think that is why marriages at the time were arranged by parents. Of course, all teenagers prize "love" above all else, even now.

6) "Portable property is happiness in a pocketbook". By Jane, in the presence of the wealthy(ish) uncle of the poor Irish lover.

7) Of course, to achieve the status that women have today (the ability to work, become educated, to vote, to own property, etc.) women needed to push the envelope, as Jane did (according to the movie), and push it hard. So I shouldn't be so critical.

8) I love the idea of butlers and housekeepers. Though I don't think I could bear having people around all the time.

9) We discount the complete inability of the "poor gentry" (like Jane's family), of even actually earning a living, should they have to. They wouldn't know how to, even if they wanted to.

10) Lawyers in England STILL wear those white wigs in court. Though it seems anachronistic, I suppose it is no more than the uniform that we Americans wear in court: dark suits, relieved only by a bright blouse, or tie. It is very rare to find a woman outside of lower courts, in anything but a dark skirt suit. (Men, too, but men have such fewer options when it comes to professional clothing.) And we say things like, "may it please the Court, my name is ______, and I represent the Plaintiff in this matter."

11) Apparently, at the time, it was appropriate to read one's mail at the dinner table when one is entertaining guests. Weird.

12) To paraphrase a friend of mine, our most significant goal in life shouldn't be "happiness" or personal fulfillment, even though that often appears to be the primary goal for lots of people. The end of Jane's novels is almost always the same, the protagonists make "triumphant happy endings" and are married to "very rich men." Which I think is weird, considering her apparent disdain for money.

13) Tom (the delectable Irishman), proposes an elopement to Scotland, to run away. To "leave everything" and "be together." Her sister, Cassandra, challenges her. Jane says, "happiness is within my grasp and I cannot help myself." Whew! I remember feeling much the same way, at various points, in my early 20's. By my early 30's I had realized that happiness, joy, and (horrors) reliability are not incompatible, which is what I had thought.

14) I love the look of the English countryside. One does get used to the damp and constant mist, I have heard. It is one of the reasons English women have such dewy complexions.

15) Ah! Finally, she has come to her senses and realized that responsibility is not horrible. And she is the reasonable one, not him, for realizing that he can't support his family and her, and that eventually "love" will die in the face of increasing debt and responsibility. Of course it is heartbreaking to leave the one you "love."

Ok, I quit. I sound so very critical. Really, I love a good romance as much as the rest. And, this has all the markings of a good romance, including unrequited love.

HAH. Best line, "it appears that you cannot bear to marry without affection, or with it."

Awa....Tom named his daughter after Jane. How sweet. Wonder what her mother thought of that? Not sure what the ending of the movie is supposed to mean. Should she have actually eloped with Tom? After all, according to the movie, he appeared to have made good, in the end. Should she have, as she always said, put love above all else?


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