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Austen Superpowers: Finding Yours With Anne Elliot

anne elliot

Anne Elliot: A quiet force to be reckoned with.

Kindly reproduced here with permission from its author, Laurie Viera Rigler, who is also the author of the popular Jane Austen Addict novels.

Lizzy Bennet may be the one with all the flash and sparkle, but one should never underestimate one of Austen’s more reserved heroines, Anne Elliot of Persuasion.

At first glance, Anne may not seem to fit the typical ideal of a cape-wearing, save-the-day superhero, but let’s take a closer look at Miss Anne:

Austen Superpower 1: Grace under Fire.

Who had the presence of mind that no one else had when Louisa Musgrove fell from the Cobb at Lyme?

That’s right; Anne Elliot did. Everyone else was wailing and flailing while she was the voice of calm and reason in the midst of the emergency. She was the one who gave Captain Wentworth calm and rational directions as to how to help Louisa.

Austen Superpower 2: Trusting Observation and Instinct.

Who realized that Captain Wentworth was in love with her–despite his eight years of silence after she broke his heart, despite his ignoring her while happily being the Musgrove girls’ object of worship, and despite everyone else being ready to marry him off to Louisa Musgrove?

You got it; Anne Elliot. Though not by any stretch of the imagination conceited or vain, and despite having been brought up to think of herself as beneath the notice of everyone in her family (aside, that is, from Lady Russell and Anne’s own dear, departed mother ), this gentle soul’s keen gaze penetrated to Captain Wentworth’s very soul. She knew–knew, I say!–that he cared for her again. 

She knew this not from any direct declaration of Captain Wentworth’s, but from the way he talked of the unsuitability of the engagement of his friend Benwick to Louisa, and of Benwick’s inconstancy to Benwick’s fiancee, who died only a short time before.

Austen Superpower 3: The Courage to Act

Anne not only KNEW this, she acted upon it–granted, within the very limited means that a lady of her time was authorized to act, for as Anne herself said of the lot of females in general in the time of Jane Austen:

“We live at home, quiet, confined, and our feelings prey upon us.”

How did she act upon it? She encouraged Captain Wentworth to stay at the concert when jealousy of his rival, Mr. Elliot, was driving him away. She wasn’t successful, but her encouragement may have given him something to think about.

She expressed her feelings about female constancy to Captain Wentworth’s dear friend Captain Harville. She did this not because she knew–which she did not–that Captain Wentworth could overhear her, nor did she do it because she imagined that Captain Harville might repeat her words to Captain Wentworth. No, she acted purely out of a wish to defend the integrity of women’s feelings that she so passionately believed in, and as a mark of her friendship with Captain Harville.

via GIPHY

via GIPHY

And that was enough to jolt Captain Wentworth out of his comfort zone and into declaring his own feelings.

 

How can we cultivate our own inner Anne Elliot?

When in doubt, read the book. And/or see the movie(s).

We can also contemplate the following passages to cultivate each of Anne Elliot’s Austen superpowers:

Grace under fire.

Check out Miss Anne in the aftermath of Louisa Musgrove’s fall from the Cobb. This is the girl you’d want by your side in any emergency. Here are some snippets of Anne taking charge while everyone around her falls apart, including Captain Wentworth, who holds the unconscious Louisa in his arms; Louisa’s sister Henrietta, who falls into a faint at the sight of her sister; and Louisa’s brother Charles Musgrove, whose wife Mary is in her usual hysterics. 

Anne not only suggests they fetch a surgeon, but makes sure that Captain Benwick, who knows the area, is the one to do it. As they wait for the surgeon:

Anne, attending with all the strength and zeal, and thought, which instinct supplied, to Henrietta, still tried, at intervals, to suggest comfort to the others, tried to quiet Mary, to animate Charles, to assuage the feelings of Captain Wentworth. Both seemed to look to her for directions.

“Anne, Anne,” cried Charles, “What is to be done next? What, in heaven’s name, is to be done next?”

Captain Wentworth’s eyes were also turned towards her.

“Had not she better be carried to the inn? Yes, I am sure: carry her gently to the inn.”

“Yes, yes, to the inn,” repeated Captain Wentworth, comparatively collected, and eager to be doing something. “I will carry her myself. Musgrove, take care of the others.”

The courage to act.

When Captain Wentworth walked in alone to the concert in Bath, Anne had the courage to approach him and be friendly to him, despite the presence of her formidable father and sister, who had snubbed him previously. It doesn’t sound like much, but for a young single woman whose family had absolutely rejected him as a suitor eight years before and who  herself had been rejected in turn by that man when he returned from the war, Anne’s actions show tremendous courage and integrity: 

Anne was the nearest to him, and making yet a little advance, she instantly spoke. He was preparing only to bow and pass on, but her gentle “How do you do?” brought him out of the straight line to stand near her, and make enquiries in return, in spite of the formidable father and sister in the back ground. Their being in the back ground was a support to Anne; she knew nothing of their looks, and felt equal to everything which she believed right to be done.

Trusting observation and instinct. 

After Anne has a world-changing conversation with Captain Wentworth before a concert in Bath, in which he talks to her, for the first time, about the engagement of his friend Captain Benwick to Louisa Musgrove, she reviews it all in her head, and she doesn’t second-guess her observations at all:

His choice of subjects, his expressions, and still more his manner and look, had been such as she could see in only one light. His opinion of Louisa Musgrove’s inferiority, an opinion which he had seemed solicitous to give, his wonder at Captain Benwick, his feelings as to a first, strong attachment; sentences begun which he could not finish, his half averted eyes and more than half expressive glance, all, all declared that he had a heart returning to her at least; that anger, resentment, avoidance, were no more; and that they were succeeded, not merely by friendship and regard, but by the tenderness of the past. Yes, some share of the tenderness of the past. She could not contemplate the change as implying less. He must love her.

The same keenness of observation serves Anne well with respect to Captain Wentworth’s rival, Mr. Elliot:

Mr. Elliot was rational, discreet, polished, but he was not open. There was never any burst of feeling, any warmth of indignation or delight, at the evil or good of others. This, to Anne, was a decided imperfection. Her early impressions were incurable. She prized the frank, the open-hearted, the eager character beyond all others. Warmth and enthusiasm did captivate her still. She felt that she could so much more depend upon the sincerity of those who sometimes looked or said a careless or a hasty thing, than of those whose presence of mind never varied, whose tongue never slipped.

Doesn’t it make you want to read Persuasion again? Or for the first time? Oh yes, you are in for a treat!

Read on, my dears, and may you be blessed with Austen superpowers!

 

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Austen Superpowers: Finding Yours with Anne Elliot was written by Laurie Viera Rigler – the author of the Jane Austen Addict series.

Visit her at her website www.janeaustenaddict.com

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Finding Happiness, Austen Style, with Emma, our favourite matchmaker

Finding happiness with Emma

Welcome to the fourth of a multi-part series of posts on how to lift yourself out of the blues, Austen style. This time, with Emma.

Kindly reproduced here with permission from its author, Laurie Viera Rigler, who is also the author of the popular Jane Austen Addict novels.

Does the following sound familiar to you?

You’ve found the perfect certain someone for your friend, neighbour, colleague, or other unsuspecting acquaintance. There’s just one small problem: Said friend has told you that no way, no how is he/she interested in that perfect certain someone. And yet, you know better–just as you always do. Just as Emma, the eponymous heroine of Austen’s novel, always did.


Hold on a minute. Did Jane Austen write two versions of Emma? Or could it be that you, like Emma, are turning into the queen of know-it-all? Heaven forbid. After all, look what happened to Emma. She very nearly totally screwed up her life. But never fear. We’ve got a little game for you to play. It’s called “Emma, Reformed Matchmaker.” All you need to do is follow the rules:

    1. You’ll need to play with a single friend (preferably a single friend who would like to be in a couple. Otherwise, we might need to come up with another game entitled, “Emma Reformed Bulldozer”).
    2. Each of you sits down and writes a list of qualities that your friend’s perfect, future mate should possess.
    3. Do not reveal what is on your lists until both of you are finished writing.
    4. Now share. You may be surprised to find that your lists differ greatly. When you read your friend’s list, refrain from exclamations of horror unless one of the items on that list includes “must be incarcerated in a maximum security prison.”

    5. Now, give your list to your friend to take home with her. Tell her she is free to cross out whatever she doesn’t like on your list and keep whatever she does like. Or burn the whole thing.
    6. If she cares to share her final list with you, you may keep your eyes open for appropriate candidates and discreetly point them out to her. That’s “point them out,” not shove them in her face. Remember, you are “Emma, Reformed Matchmaker.”
    7. If your friend doesn’t care to share her final list, then graciously wish her all the best in finding her dream partner and promptly change the subject. Then, take her to Ford’s (or other local emporium of your choice) to buy a new dress. Or draw her picture. Without a potential mate watching the proceedings.
    8. By the way, you can also make one of those lists for yourself. It can be quite magical!
    9. See? You’re a better, happier human being already.

Now that you’ve had a successful run at self-improvement, and thus happiness, Austen-style, you deserve to have an Emma film festival, which consists of three, no, make that four, very clever films indeed:
The Gwyneth Paltrow/Jeremy Northam movie
The brilliant Clueless, starring Alicia Silverstone and directed by Amy Heckerling
The Romola Garai/Jonny Lee Miller miniseries 
Kate Beckinsale/Mark Strong-starrer

Four fabulous films means you get to invite at least four friends over to have a viewing party or slumber party. Do stock up on provisions, for a private screening of four films “without sitting down to supper, [would be] pronounced an infamous fraud upon the rights of men and women.”

Still wanting more? It’s time for a re-read of Emma with your new reformed matchmaker perspective. What? You haven’t read the book?? My dear, make haste to your nearest bookseller or librarian.You might even consider listening to an audiobook of Emma. Try the one narrated by none other than Mrs. Elton, that’s Juliet Stevenson, who played that role to perfection in the Gwyneth Paltrow film. It’s brilliant. She’s brilliant. At least, her friends say she is.

Feeling happy just reading all these suggestions? Good. You’ll feel even better after you follow them all. Because we know what’s good for you. Just like Emma.

If you have suggestions of your own, please share in the comments. Till then, wishing you lots of Emma-inspired happiness!!

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Laurie Viera Rigler is the author of the Jane Austen Addict series.

Visit her at her website www.janeaustenaddict.com

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Finding Happiness, Austen Style: Party with Bride and Prejudice

Bride and Prejudice

Welcome to the third of a multi-part series of posts on how to lift yourself out of the blues, Austen style.

Kindly reproduced here with permission from its author, Laurie Viera Rigler, who is also the author of the popular Jane Austen Addict novels.

 

The days are getting shorter. Winter is coming. A dragon has been turned. But are we sad? No. Because we have the cure, and now so do you.

It’s called Bride and Prejudice, the life-affirming, Bollywood-meets-Hollywood tribute to Pride and Prejudice.

Not only is it a clever, spirited, heart-opening adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, but there are also two other very important reasons for you to watch:

1. Nathan Riggs from Grey’s Anatomy. That’s right, Martin Henderson plays Darcy.

2. Naveen Andrews from Lost. He plays the Bingley role.

Need I say more? I needn’t but I will: There’s the gorgeous Aishwarya Rai in the Elizabeth role; Ellaria Sand, that is, Indira Varma, in the Caroline Bingley role; and the most hilarious portrayal of Mr. Collins (by Nitin Ganatra) since David Bamber’s brilliant work in the Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle P&P.

Just watch the trailer and see if you can resist. Come on, grumpypants—I dare you.

This film merits a party. At the very least, invite at least one friend over to watch with you. Or have a party all on your own. You deserve it. To prepare:

  • Be sure to bring in plenty of Indian food.
  • And don’t forget to get some floaty scarves to wave around while you dance along with the various musical numbers. That’s right; dance. You didn’t think you were going to be a couch potato, did you? How would that help the endorphins flow?

Keep the party going long after the credits roll: Download the soundtrack.

  • Play it in your car or while commuting to work.
    Play it while you do otherwise boring stuff like folding laundry.
  • Play it just because.
  • And sing along.

Most important: Keep these immortal words from Pride and Prejudice in mind whenever the blue devils strike:
“But Elizabeth was not formed for ill-humour; and though every prospect of her own was destroyed for the evening, it could not dwell long on her spirits…”

This quote is from the Netherfield Ball scene, when Elizabeth first realizes that the then-object of her affections, Mr. Wickham, is a no-show. Instead, she gets stuck dancing with the odious Mr. Darcy. Remember how that ultimately turned out for her? If that doesn’t cheer you up, I’ll give the next two dances to Mr. Collins.
I don’t know about you, but I feel better already.

(Fun fact: Another hit by Bride and Prejudice director Gurinder Chadha, Bend it Like Beckham, is also super uplifting. Make haste and add it to your cinematherapy arsenal.)

Laurie Viera Rigler is the author of the Jane Austen Addict series.

Visit her at her website www.janeaustenaddict.com