It darted through her with the speed of an arrow that Mr. Knightley must marry no one but herself!

8/04/2011 The Lady 2 Comments

A Communication from Miss Woodhouse:

Dear Anti-Austens,
I am writing for your advice. I am an Emma in a world full of Frank Churchills. I am constantly attracting these men who are captivated by my personality and who want to be in my confidence and part of my most intimate circles of friends. They are full of charm, experts in the art of flirtation, and masters of "eye contact" (you know what I'm talking about). Just when I think that these men are clearly in love with me and the idea of dating them might not be so terrible--"by the way, have you met my girlfriend?"
How can I get away from these men who are so adept at not mentioning the fact that they're unavailable, and how can I find my Mr. Knightley?
Sincerely,
"Miss Woodhouse"

My Dear Miss Woodhouse,
Thank you for writing and being trusting enough to ask for advice. I hope that what I have to say will be satisfactory as well as helpful.

I firmly believe that every woman has had or has currently a Mr. Churchill in their lives. Those men who show interest in being around you, who give you charming compliments, those who you are certain want to make you theirs. And then comes that moment--a short drop and a sudden stop--when you discover that they never had any intentions towards you at all. It's heartbreaking a little, and yet you question whether it should be or not. If their intentions were never declared, then what right have you to be heartbroken? However, that's not the point. It is my belief that heartache will happen whether you want it to or not. And no one ever wants it to happen. Unless you're sick in the head {or have an eternal perspective or something}, then you might. But this tiny {or large} twinge of aching happens and you struggle to keep yourself from feeling resentment towards that man who has unintentionally {or perhaps intentionally} led you on.

The time has come for me to introduce you to The Sergeant. The Sergeant is my personal version of Mr. Frank Churchill.

The Sergeant was on military leave and came to town to visit my elder sister and brother-in-law. I knew very much about The Sergeant, but was not very well acquainted with him personally. Much of the first evening of The Sergeant's visit was spent becoming acquainted with him, and we got along exceptionally well. My sister suggested that I go into town to pick up some groceries, and The Sergeant offered to drive with me. It took us an hour longer than necessary to bring the groceries back to the house because of how much we were enjoying one another's company. Before I left for home that night, The Sergeant walked me to my car and kissed my hand goodbye. A gentleman and a scholar.

For the remainder of the weekend, The Sergeant doted on me. He took me on dates, bought me flowers, and wanted to spend nearly every moment of his leave with me. And I certainly didn't mind. The Sergeant began to make plans. He was about to be stationed nearby and promised that he would come to see me often. I had no reservations about him or any of his plans. I liked him certainly. Let's allow Miss Austen to narrate for a moment, "A lady's imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment." Well said. Well said.

Once The Sergeant had been stationed closer, he promised time and time again to come to see me. And yes, he did come every so often, but not as often as I would like. But I decided that I would be understanding of his busy schedule and the unfortunate mishaps that kept him from coming to see me. Everything seemed to be fine between us, and yet I wondered why he didn't move our relationship forward.

The next time The Sergeant came to town for a visit, he had something in tow. It was a girl. Miss Jane Fairfax.

The Sergeant and Miss Fairfax soon became engaged and married. Not a word of it was ever communicated to me.

Some may say that Emma was foolish to fall for Mr. Churchill. But I beg to ask if it was foolishness? Mr. Churchill was attentive. He was charming. He was the son of her former governess's husband. Why shouldn't they be a good match? And there was hardly any motive for Emma to believe that Mr. Churchill did not have romantic intentions towards her. I do not believe she was foolish. Emma is much like most of us. Romantic. She wanted to be swept off her feet, despite her occasional protestations. Her heart was open towards love, therefore making it susceptible to heartbreak. And having an open heart is not foolishness.

Miss Woodhouse, your heart is open for love. And it will be unless you choose to lock your heart. Which is a course of action I do not advise. Keep your heart open. Doing so will not keep out the Mr. Churchills who will no doubt cross you path, but it will also {and most importantly} allow Mr. Knightley to take his place there. Do not mistake me, I am not saying to choose to love every man who comes your way and makes the slightest of advances. Rather, I suggest that these bits of flutterings of the heart and then the disappointments {spasms!} are preparing you to love Mr. Knightley undeniably.

To make a long story short, Miss Woodhouse, I do not have the answer to your question. I do not believe that there is a solution to it. You may disagree with me completely, and you are certainly entitled to {and perhaps our readers have the solution I have overlooked}, but I think the disappointments of our dating lives make love--true love, the Emma Woodhouse and Mr. Knightley sort--so much sweeter. Attempting to escape the pitfalls of the Mr. Churchills, Mr. Elliots, Mr. Wickhams, and Mr. Willoughbys in our dating lives is like trying to run from life's trials. The fact of the matter is, we will experience trials, and those trials may certainly come in the form of experiences with men that prove to be calamities.

I think our lives are so much more like Jane Austen novels than sometimes we lead on. And eventually, our personal Jane Austen heroes {Mr. Knightley for you} will come our way. Then the Mr. Churchill business will all seem much less tragic than we made it seem.

Miss Woodhouse, you are in good hands. Your own very capable hands.

Con Amor,
The Coquette

P.S. Your letter gave me a sudden appetite for Emma. I'll give you three guess as to what I'll be doing tonight.

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2 comments:

Heidi said...

Happy is the heart that still feels pain
Darkness drains and light will come again
Swing open up your chest and let it in
Just let the love, love, love begin.
-Everybody by Ingrid Michaelson

This post made me think of these lyrics, especially the line "happy is the heart that still feels pain." I could be way off, but these lyrics always seemed happy to me, because I think it's saying it's okay to have bad times, because it shows that we are still open to things like love and we can learn from the bad times. And even if things suck sometimes, it will be alright if we just stay open to light and love and try to be positive. I like what you said, Coquette, and I think these lyrics fit.

The Coquette said...

Perhaps we're all suffering from the Harriet Smith Effect?