16 December 2010

in honor of jane austen's birthday: be the elinor

Jane Austen is 235 today, and judging from her author portrait on the dust jacket of Sense and Sensibility, she's looking good for her age. I can only hope to look that good, should I ever decide to wear a bonnet like that.

Seeing as Jane Austen is in my blog title, I feel like I should be doing something more monumental. I mean, if I thought I should throw a birthday party for LM Montgomery and Louisa May Alcott a few weeks ago—my gosh, for Jane Austen, my witty inspiration, I should've embroidered something or arranged a piano-forte concert or adopted a British accent for the day.

But I didn't.

People might think I was, I don't know, slightly confused about the line between truth and fiction if I made such ado about Jane.

Instead I will honor her in a small, more appropriate way—which is, I have to say, something I learned from Jane Austen. Small actions can be significant.

Elinor Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility is the one who taught me that. A friend and I used to have a saying: Be the Elinor.

I think you'll readily see why in this Jane excerpt {see, this is me honoring her with a little excerpt}:

Elinor, this eldest daughter whose advice was so effectual, possessed a strength of understanding, and coolness of judgment, which qualified her, though only nineteen, to be the counsellor of her mother [...]. She had an excellent heart; her disposition was affectionate, and her feelings were strong: but she knew how to govern them.

Be the Elinor simply meant: Control your emotions. You do have them, of course—we all have them, but some of us choose to let them govern us. Marianne Dashwood, I'm looking directly at you.

Be the Elinor doesn't mean be an emotional android. Elinor felt strongly and deeply; it was only her reactions to situations and other people that she measured out with moderation.

And there's a good deal of sense in that.

Happy birthday, Jane!


  1. Elinor is my favorite Austen character. :-) Now I'm going to have to get the movie out this afternoon. :-) No one could have played her the way Emma Thompson did. Such a good book and a good movie. :-)

  2. Oh my gosh, I know, Beth! I just re-watched Sense and Sensibility a few weeks ago...I was working on some sewing projects on a Sunday evening, and wow, it was just the perfect movie for that time.



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