Friday, 30 July 2010

Jane Austen Quote of the Week 119

The theme of trust to Icha's quote from last week stayed with me and I have been thinking about it often the last few days.

I do agree with her observation that it is beneficial to place a degree of trust in a person to begin a relationship but I also think that it is crucial to balance this with awareness and vigilance (as Linda stated in the comments) to ensure that you do not get deceived and consequently hurt.

This led me to think about Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice. Upon first meeting Wickham, she trusted him. She believed everything he said to be true.
Conversely, she did not like Mr Darcy. Of course he did not present her with many attributes in which she could like but she didnt trust him.
It is not until chapter 36 of the novel when she reads the letter written to her by Darcy and she starts to have her doubts.
She finds his arrogance insulting:

"He expressed no regret for what he had done which satisfied her; his style was not penitent, but haughty. It was all pride and insolence."

The letter does however sew some seeds of doubt regarding the true nature of Wickham:

"How differently did everything now appear in which he was concerned! His attentions to Miss King were now the consequence of views solely and hatefully mercenary; and the mediocrity of her fortune proved no longer the moderation of his wishes, but his eagerness to grasp at anything."

Overall, she is confused and does not know what to think. All she knows is that:

"She grew absolutely ashamed of herself. Of neither Darcy nor Wickham could she think without feeling that she had been blind, partial, prejudiced, absurd. -"

I think my point is that both trusting and not trusting is dangerous. She feels ashamed for misplacing her trust but it is a common mistake for us all. But to place no trust at all in a person can lead to a very lonely life ...

In chapter 44 after she has seen Mr Darcy at Pemberley, Elizabeth is beginning to acknowledge her positive feelings for him; her trust in his good nature is growing:

"The respect created by the conviction of his valuable qualities, though at first unwillingly admitted, had for some time ceased to be repugnant to her feelings; and it was now heightened into somewhat of a friendlier nature by the testimony so highly in his favour, and bringing forward his disposition in so amiable a light, which yesterday had produced."

Sorry for using so many quotes but I thought they all illustrated the point that we must place trust in people to make mistakes, learn and grow as a person.

Pic: Wickham and Darcy

Friday, 23 July 2010

Jane Austen Quote of the Week 118

For this week, I purposely tried to search for a quote about trusting someone. I first focused myself on either Darcy (for his innate mistrust) or Wentworth (for secretly being jealous for Anne Elliot going out with Cousin Elliot)… but it wasn’t quite right. Then I remember Jane Bennet, and search for quotes about her in Pemberley. And here’s what I found, which I think suits my need now.

Volume I Chapter IV on Pride and Prejudice, when Elizabeth and Jane were talking about Mr Bingley. Said Elizabeth:

"Oh! you are a great deal too apt, you know, to like people in general. You never see a fault in any body. All the world are good and agreeable in your eyes. I never heard you speak ill of a human being in my life.''

I often think that Jane was too goody goody sometimes, akin to Melanie Hamilton in Gone with the Wind. But… perhaps these traits are important too. Although we must be vigilant, we also must reserve faith in someone or something. Otherwise, we would end up like Elizabeth, mistrusting Darcy and trusting Wickham instead of the other way around.

I will explain it. I had a project in Bali where I talked with the local people about a conservation issue. Being a young female researcher, it wasn’t easy for me to win their trust. Some mishaps and misunderstanding also took place. Eventually, I realised it wasn’t enough for me to declare my best intentions to them. I also had to decide to trust them first, despite their external appearances (some of them were very scary for me, the first time I met them!). And indeed, lo and behold! Once I decided to trust them and trust my best intentions at the same time, better things happened. We started to understand each other better.

Often in our interactions with people, we must start with the conscious decision to trust them first, instead of the other way around. Yes, true, trust must be earned. But sometimes, it’s also worth it to invest on trust first before the whole business starts rolling.

I sound like a financial expert, hey?

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Jane Austen Quote of the Week - Week 117 by Linda

In Chapter 11 of Emma we find a description of Mr. John Knightley that gives us quite a display of Jane Austen’s ability to draw a character with depth. Please excuse the very long quote, since it displays her talent so well.

Mr. John Knightley was a tall, gentleman-like, and very clever man; rising in his profession, domestic, and respectable in his private character; but with reserved manners which prevented his being generally pleasing; and capable of being sometimes out of humour. He was not an ill-tempered man, not so often unreasonably cross as to deserve such a reproach; but his temper was not his great perfection; and, indeed, with such a worshipping wife, it was hardly possible that any natural defects in it should not be increased. The extreme sweetness of her temper must hurt his. He had all the clearness and quickness of mind which she wanted, and he could sometimes act an ungracious, or say a severe thing. He was not a great favourite with his fair sister-in-law. Nothing wrong in him escaped her. She was quick in feeling the little injuries to Isabella, which Isabella never felt herself. Perhaps she might have passed over more had his manners been flattering to Isabella's sister, but they were only those of a calmly kind brother and friend, without praise and without blindness; but hardly any degree of personal compliment could have made her regardless of that greatest fault of all in her eyes which he sometimes fell into, the want of respectful forbearance towards her father. There he had not always the patience that could have been wished. Mr. Woodhouse's peculiarities and fidgettiness were sometimes provoking him to a rational remonstrance or sharp retort equally ill bestowed. It did not often happen; for Mr. John Knightley had really a great regard for his father-in-law, and generally a strong sense of what was due to him; but it was too often for Emma's charity, especially as there was all the pain of apprehension frequently to be endured, though the offence came not. The beginning, however, of every visit displayed none but the properest feelings, and this being of necessity so short might be hoped to pass away in unsullied cordiality. They had not been long seated and composed when Mr. Woodhouse, with a melancholy shake of the head and a sigh, called his daughter's attention to the sad change at Hartfield since she had been there last.

All I can say is WOW! We have all the nuances of character that can be had.

Linda the Librarian

Pic: Mr John Knightley

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Jane Austen Quote of the Week 116 - by Linda

In Chapter 10 of Emma we find Harriet and Emma out walking and Emma had a charitable visit to pay to a poor sick family who lived a little way out of Highbury. Several topics are discussed and then we come to this:

They were now approaching the cottage, and all idle topics were superseded. Emma was very compassionate; and the distresses of the poor were as sure of relief from her personal attention and kindness, her counsel and her patience, as from her purse. She understood their ways, could allow for their ignorance and their temptations, had no romantic expectations of extraordinary virtue from those, for whom education had done so little; entered into their troubles with ready sympathy, and always gave her assistance with as much intelligence as good-will.

If only the whole world could act as Emma did with understanding and support, it would be a better place. There would be no need for all those government programs. I can remember way back in my younger days when our community did just that. We took care of our own.

End of today’s sermon.

Yrs most aff’ly,

Linda the Librarian

Pic: Emma Woodhouse (Kate Beckinsale) and Harriet Smith (Samantha Morton) from Emma 1996, from Jimandellen

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Jane Austen Quote of the Week - Week 115

I have chosen to honour Sense and Sensibility this week and the wonderful character of Elinor. In Chapter 24 Elinor has to listen to Lucy Steele talking of her love for Edward Ferrars.

"and Elinor sat down to the card-table with the melancholy persuasion that Edward was not only without affection for the person who was to be his wife; but that he had not even the chance of being tolerably happy in marriage, which sincere affection on her side would have given, for self-interest alone could induce a woman to keep a man to an engagement, of which she seemed so thoroughly aware that he was weary."

This week I have been in two conversations where I have been told 'you are such a romantic'. I left these conversations with a negative feeling about the fact that I live in the ideal world rather than the realistic one. After reflection I realised that it was not such a bad thing. I want to marry for love. I dont want to marry because maybe I, or the man I may marry, has a focus on self-interest alone and not happiness. I found that this quote inspired me. Elinor realises what is important. She is melancholy by the situation where a person will be committing to another in life-long marriage but leaving their heart behind with another. That still happens today and that makes me melancholy too.

Pic: Edward and Elinor