A pastiche of Northanger Abbey that I wrote in March when I re-read Northanger Abbey. The opening passages are some of my favorites in the book! :)
"No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy, would have supposed her born to be an heroine."--Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey
There exists among the rank-and-file, pendantic, and provincial that elevated class of the female sex known as the heroine, of which our subject, Miss R., possessed not the distinction of membership. Her disposition, sunny to a fault, rendered it impossible for her to pronounce with the proper acidity the satiric remarks necessary for the exhibition or a heroine's clever wit and intellectual brilliance, without accompanied by blushing, smiling retractions of her vitriolic statements. Although her posture good, her shortish frame wanted the pleasure of being either nicely plump or enchantingly slender, and was forced to reside in the wholly uninteresting territory known as average. Her eyes were weak, of a greyish colour, and had never had the honor of receiving the most coveted of epithets: "fine eyes." Betwixt these two embodiments of blandness resided a most perverse nose; that at times took on a most un-solicited mannish cragginess and at others exhibited a most alarming saucy upturn. Her lips bore little resemblance in colour or softness to roses, and often contrived to lend her gaze a most idiotic blankness. Her teeth were large and stained slightly yellow as a result of the daily tea she was so prodigiously fond of. Her obstinate forehead and jaw conspired together to give her face a firmness and stolidness most unusual for her sex. Her hair, oft the crowning glory of so many women, was a disappointing mousy brown and coarse in texture, requiring much teazing to hold a curl. Although her locks boasted a brazen bronze sheen, they owed that more to woman's art than the cornucopia of nature's gifts. Despite, however, this utterly discouraging physiognomy, Miss R. possessed one feature that provided her with enough secret comfort to serve as balm for the bitter wounds on her vanity. Residing dantily above her unremarkable neck, which did not remotely resemble anything swan-like, were her two shell-like auricles. Delicate conch-pink, and nicely rounded, her ears were her clandestine pride and joy, especially as they came to a delicate point, at their peaks, lending them a most deliciously elven air.
Upon reviewing the dilemma of her features in the mirror, there was only one remotely that immediately presented itself to her, and that was to look in that instrument less often.
A solution which, as we shall see, rendered itself not altogether satisfactory.
Some of you may have already heard this, but at the suggestion of Lady Addie, here's my story...particularly how I chose mediation.
When I graduated with my BA my plan was to go to grad school and get a doctorate in English Literature, and eventually become a college professor. I graduated in December, so I had a little time to study for the GRE and to prepare for grad school.
But the more I got ready...the more I began to dread it. And not just grad school...teaching, too. I realized the only reason I had planned to become a professor was for money. Not many people earn much by writing.
I still took the GRE...and didn't do as well as I'd hoped. I took it as a sign from God...being a professor was not for me.
And what a relief that acknowledgement was! But I had a problem. A BA in Writing doesn't give you many good job options. So I prayed, then found a website with an alphabetical list of almost any job you can imagine...and I started reading through them.
Even the ones I expected to excite me (actor...writer...no, I wasn't seriously considering them as options but they ARE my passions), didn't. At least, they didn't as much as mediator did.
I had never heard of mediators. They are people who get both sides of a legal argument together and attempt to help them reach an agreement--without the use of the courtroom.
The two things I have always wanted to do with my job (and life in general) are help people and serve God. I believe I can do both as a mediator.
So I'm going to law school, starting Thursday. I'm pretty scared but God's helping put excitement in place of nervousness.
Oh, and this was just cool to me...the first time I met one of my guy friends--we'll call him Joe--was at writer's group. At the end of the night we got talking about God, and Joe decided he wanted to tell us each the good qualities he saw in us. He'd only just met me but instead of skipping me, he thought for a moment, then said, "Janny, I hardly know you, so maybe this isn't right, but the word that's coming to mind is mediator." Someone else had to explain to him why I was staring open-mouthed. ;)
"Anne felt the utter impossibility, from her knowledge of his mind, that he could be unvisited by remembrance any more than herself. There must be the same immediate association of thought, though she was very far from conceiving it to be of equal pain... there could have been no two hearts so open, no tastes so similar, no feelings so in unison, no countenances so beloved. Now they were as strangers; nay, worse than strangers, for they could never become acquainted. It was a perpetual estrangement." Jane Austen--Persuasion
Unrequited love. What does it mean? What does it feel like? And-most importantly ;)- what does Austen have to say about it?
In all Austen's stories, there are examples of unrequited love. Some of them are pivotal to the storyline-like Anne Eliot's and Capt. Wentworth's painfully awkward situation that tugs at the heartstrings (or, in Ella's case, frustrates beyond endurance. :)) Often, unrequited (or what is perceived as unrequited love) begins a relationship-like Mr. Darcy's secret attraction to Lizzie. At first, Lizzie most emphatically does not return Mr. Darcy's one-sided affection for her. However, she slowly learns of his true character, and comes to appreciate him and eventually return his love. In Darcy's case, his unrequited love has a blessedly happy ending.
"Next to being married, a girl likes to be crossed in love a little now and then." ~Pride & Prejudice
Other Austen characters are not so fortunate.
Perhaps the most painful Austenian example of unrequited love (putting aside Persuasion, which basically takes the cake for the most heart-wrenching portrayal of unrequited, and silently, secretly requited love,) is the unfortunate relationship between Marianne and Willoughby. In this case, Marianne's beautiful, strong character renders her able to form a deep and abiding attachment to Willoughby, an attachment that his weeker and shallower character cannot reciprocate. Such one-sided love ends up hurting Marianne deeply, but it teaches her a valuable lesson- she learns to temper her sweet sensibility with a little of Elinor's sense. (And, of course, she eventually finds her true love!)
I think God uses the pain of unrequited love to teach us about His love and how we should imitate that love. As St. Francis of Assisi prayed: "Oh, Lord, grant that I make never seek so much to be loved as to love." There is a certain strength and maturity you gain when you choose to truly love someone, even though your love is not returned. You gain a new appreciation for and understanding of what love means. As God loves unconditionally, so should we. Even if we turn our back on God, and withold our love from Him, He will never withold His love from us. Love is most complete, perfect, and exists as God intended when it is reciprocated; however, unrequited love is an important part of life that we all have experienced or will experience in our lives.
For some reason the phrase that keeps running through my head as I write this is "Beauty through pain." Don't know why...Maybe it's because the beauty of love trumps the pain of it not being returned? Maybe because our appreciation of love's beauty is greater when we experience heartbreak? Maybe because the things most worth our time-like love- can only be obtained if you're willing to sacrifice and experience pain? Thoughts, gentle readers?
"Friendship is certainly the finest balm for the pangs of disappointed love." Jane Austen-- Northanger Abbey