Monday, January 10, 2011
Did Jane Austen Get It Right?
Last night I took a night off and watched a movie. Since there was nothing worth watching in the new releases, I ended up watching Persuasion. I'm not sure what version it was, but it was good.
I'm a sucker for Jane Austen. She was a woman whose ideas were before her time, but I think, as far as romance goes, she got it right.
As a writer of romance, I'm consciously watching people, watching movies, reading books, forever waiting for that "Aaaaah..." moment, when the guy does something completely unexpected and utterly romantic, the girl stands there speechless, knowing that this is the moment she's been waiting for her whole life, he smiles, moves a little closer..and cinches the deal.
Yes, the skeptics among us will cry foul. That's not realistic. Movies are totally contrived. So are a lot of those romance novels you enjoy reading.
Okay. So what?
What's wrong with romance? I'll tell you what's wrong, in my opinion, at least. You see, I believe in today's society, the majority of us do not even know what romance means. Hollywood and people in the limelight, people a lot of the younger generation look up to and I'd go so far as to say idolize, have put such a skewed version of the term out there, that in another ten years or so, I'd be surprised if anyone under the age of twenty-five could even tell you who Jane Austen is.
Romance is not sex.
Interestingly enough, most movies out there today give a contradictory message. The two main characters in question must jump into bed together, and usually within the first half hour of the movie. How else are they going to know they're truly made for each other?
It's easy for me to sit here and be snarky, but really, the whole thing just makes me sad.
Are there any girls out there anymore who care whether or not a guy knows how to be chivalrous? Yes, it's a big word. In fact I wonder if it's even taught in schools today - the word and its meaning. In essence, I suppose what I'm asking is this.
Where's the respect?
Girls don't seem to want it. Guys sure don't seem to know how to give it. Marriage is an old-fashioned ideal that's really just an excuse to have a big party, and who wants to spend that kind of money when you're not sure it's going to work out?
It seems happily ever after has become happy until one of us decides somebody else is a better catch and moves on.
I suppose, to be honest, these are some of the underlying reasons I write romance. I want to preserve romance for what it was meant to be. Yes, my characters won't be perfect. They will make mistakes, but at the end of the day, they will be different because of how they treat each other. I still believe that deep down, every girl wants to be courted. She wants to be cherished, loved beyond reason, she wants to be respected.
And perhaps there are a few guys left in the world who will have parents who've brought them up to do just that.
I may sound terribly old-fashioned here, but have you ever walked through a crowded mall and had people push past you as you make your way to the exit, tripping over your bags and small children, but then you look up, and there in front of you is a gentleman, holding the door open for you. Isn't it nice? Don't you breathe just the tiniest sigh of relief, smile and thank him as you walk by? Who taught him to do that? Take a look next time - I'll bet that guy is over forty. Unless you're in the South. I hear they have better manners down there.
My daughter and her friends are You Tube addicts. It's the generation. However, one of the things they love to watch are those wedding videos - and there are a ton of them out there. Every now and again one pops up that outshines them all. In that one moment, you see it.
It's that "Aaaah..." moment.
And it makes you believe again.
I watched one last night that I must share with you.
Then you tell me. Did Jane get it right?
Posted by Catherine West at 3:35 AM