Thursday, July 30, 2015

Your P&P Guide to Life by Carolyn

I have told my friend and fellow writer, Susan, several times that I thought it was possible to find just the right words for almost any situation in life in the pages of Jane Austen's classic novel Pride and Prejudice, even though it was written about two hundred years ago. Let's give it a try . . .

When an older woman is spending too much time and effort on her own looks, possibly trying to look much younger than she is, you might say (as Mrs. Bennet did to her husband), "When a woman has five grown-up daughters, she ought to give over thinking of her own beauty." Someone else might follow that up (as Mr. Bennet did) with, "In such cases, a woman has often not much beauty to think of."

When despairing over the empty-headedness of a particular group of teenage girls, you might observe along with Mr. Bennet, although hopefully not about your own children, "They have none of them much to recommend them. They are all silly and ignorant like other girls."

When remarking upon how foolish, uninformed, and grouchy a certain female acquaintance is, you might justifiably comment, "She was a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper."

Not to be sexist, you could describe a particularly arrogant gentleman in this way: ". . . he is a most disagreeable, horrid man, not at all worth pleasing. So high and so conceited that there is no enduring him!"

And in commenting on the reason for your dislike of human beings in general, you might swear, "The insipidity and yet the noise; the nothingness and yet the self-importance of all these people!"

When extolling the virtues of a short courtship, you might remark, "Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance. If the dispositions of the parties are ever so well known to each other, or ever so similar beforehand, it does not advance their felicity in the least. They always continue to grow sufficiently unlike afterwards to have their share of vexation; and it is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life."

Perhaps you share this view of the dangers of too much feminine togetherness: ". . . For a whole day's tete-รก-tete between two women can never end without a quarrel."

Are you one whose guiding rule is moderation? Or perhaps you are something of a couch potato? You can explain to others that you totally agree with Mary Bennet's philosophy: ". . . every impulse of feeling should be guided by reason; and, in my opinion, exertion should always be in proportion to what is required."

Well, what do you think? I only had to consult the first seven of the 61 chapters in Jane Austen's opus to find these gems of wit and wisdom. I daresay I could address every eventuality of life if I continued to search through the rest of the book!

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