Plain Jane

jane austen imagePlain Jane:

I could not sit seriously down to write a serious Romance under any other motive than to save my life, & if it were indispensable for me to keep it up & never relax into laughing at myself or other people, I am sure I should be hung before I had finished the first chapter. No – I must keep my own style & go on in my own way; and though I may never succeed again in that, I am convinced that I should totally fail in any other

-Jane Austen in her letters

I was recently reading a biography of Jane, where the biographer mentioned that Jane was only fully herself when writing letters. To say that such-and-such character is her mouthpiece, or that another illustrates her moral philosophy is to reduce her ability to create characters apart from her own viewpoint–which she most assuredly did. Through the rich history, exchanged stories, and personal observations of her family, Jane was able , in her own way, to create characters wholly unique from her own ideas, though she led a quiet, home life.

Plain Jane

jane austen image via mollands.netPlain Jane:

We are so vain that we even care for the opinion of those we don’t care for

-Jane Austen in her letters

Isn’t that so horribly true? I would even go so far as to say that we care even more. Your dearest friends usually give you the benefit of the doubt but to learn a mere acquaintance doesn’t worship your every move and suddenly you get very offended, yes? “They don’t even know me, how could they?” But wouldn’t it be just a little bit simpler if all you cared about is not making your dearest friends give you the benefit of the doubt and letting the rest of the world believe as they wish? And wouldn’t you have so much more time to do what YOU really wanted instead of keeping smooth the opinions of the masses? No one got anywhere by pleasing everyone. Sometimes, being a diplomat isn’t as much fun as being an individual.

Plain Jane

jane austen illustrationPlain Jane: “Love which did not build a foundation on good sense was doomed.”

-Jane Austen in her letters 

Just think how many people would be jobless if everyone listened to Jane…TMZ, E! Entertainment, The Soup, Ryan Seacrest…but then, we wouldn’t miss them really, would we?

Plain Jane

jane austen sketch via mollands.netPlain Jane: “We are so vain that we even care for the opinion of those we don’t care for.”

-Jane Austen in her letters

Facebook, Twitter, and social media are something Jane never could have known about, but the human motivation to create them certainly was something she was familiar with. It seems obsession with self is something of the eighteenth, nineteenth and any century. Goodness but we are all mad!

 

Plain Jane

mollands.net

Plain Jane: “Men were put into the world to teach women the law of compromise.”

-Jane Austen in her letters

And if my experience is a fairly good  sample of women as a gender, and I think it is, then this law is one we often like to avoid, pretend to forget, or crush altogether. It seems Jane struggled with it too, she chose to spend her days writing and compromising for no one, for she never found a gentleman worth compromising for. If you have had the pleasure of finding one, make sure you don’t forget this little piece of wisdom.

Plain Jane

jane austen writing Plain Jane: “The little bit (two inches wide) of ivory on which I work with so fine a brush as produces little effect after much labor.”

-Jane Austen in her letters

Jane was quite the humble artist. I can’t believe though she truly thought she was producing little effect with her novels. What I can believe though is that she was very familiar with the agony that sometimes comes with producing a beautiful sentence. Thank goodness she had a high pain tolerance.

Plain Jane

Plain Jane: “I do not know what is the matter with me today, but I cannot write quietly; I am always wandering away into some exclamation or other. Fortunately I have nothing very particular to say.”

-Jane Austen’s letter to sister Cassandra

I have dear friends who are in grad school. I know they often feel as Jane did and as I do today. The often bemoaned affliction “senioritis” and Fridays feel strangely similar: listless, unfocused, the knowledge of having almost reached the blissful end but knowing its not yet time to throw your cap and slide into peaceful rest. Jane got through it though, I think quite successfully–perhaps because she was able to admit when she could not make her pen say what was in her head. Good luck to all the students out there who may be wandering away into some exclamation or other, know that you always wander back.