Elizabeth: By Age 35 . . .

After all of the accountability and progress reporting earlier this week, I thought I’d lighten things up a little today.  A few weeks ago, MarketWatch posted this relatively innocuous tweet:

What was intended as simple financial advice exploded into a Twitter-storm and eventually turned into a meme, as readers weighed in with their increasingly amusing opinions.    If you haven’t seen them, there was an entertaining summary of the whole thing in the Washington Post entitled:  By age 35, you should have saved up enough despair to understand this meme.

The replies referenced everything from “Avocado Toast” to collecting “Chaos Emeralds”.  My favorite (probably because it struck close to home) was:

I first saw a literary twist on this meme on a post by a librarian friend of mine, which included such entries as:

By age 35 you should have thrown away your copy of War and Peace.  You know you’re never going to read it.

By age 35, if you don’t know who Elizabeth Bennet, Miss Havisham, George Knightley, or Colonel Brandon are, you never will.

So, what would your “By age 35″ entry be?

Michaeline: Lessons from the Great Masters: Pride & Prejudice

Darcy looks down on Mr. Collins, who is bowing with great (but false) humility before introducing himself.

Mr. Collins neglects to profit from Elizabeth Bennet’s advice. (The Ball at Netherfield, Darcy and Collins. Via Wikimedia Commons)

As I mentioned in the comments earlier this week, I am reading Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice for the umpteenth time. This time around, I’m trying to drag my brain away from the story and the political implications of gender, and really concentrate on the mechanics – how she made the story work. Dear readers, let me tell you, this is very difficult. I get so caught up in the world, it’s hard to remember to pay attention to the underpinnings and scaffolding. But, I have managed to catch glimpses of certain techniques.

Last night, I was reading Mr. Collins’ speech to Elizabeth Bennet at Netherfield Ball – the one where he’s determined to introduce himself to Mr. Darcy and give Darcy good tidings of Darcy’s aunt, Lady Catherine De Bourgh (who is also the woman who gave Collins his job as a clergyman).

The first thing that struck me was how elegantly Austen managed to portray a very complex man in a few sentences of dialog. His guiding star in life is summed up in this sentence: Continue reading

Michaeline: Likable characters


Emma Woodhouse and Elizabeth Bennet, Regency heroines

I think every writer struggles with the concept of “likable” characters, but the fact is that for most people, you get what you get. Your girls in the basement send someone up, and it’s up to you to work with them, and tweak or train them into characters who are likable, or at least interesting. If you can.

This has been on my mind lately because I just caught up with the “Lizzie Bennet Diaries” on YouTube. I loved the modern interpretation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and a combination of factors made it extremely watchable and fun. Wanting more, I continued on to “Emma Approved,” which takes Austen’s Emma out for a spin in the 21st century.

Rather famously, Austen was worried about Emma (the main character) and her likability factor. She called Emma “a heroine whom no one but myself will much like.” I find that very true – Emma is a much harder book for me to get into because Emma is such a controlling, childish, unaware creature.

Interestingly enough, I think there are a lot of parallels between Emma and Elizabeth Bennet (Eliza Bennet is a character I like a lot, by the way). Continue reading