Saturday, June 9, 2012

Blog: The Jane Austen Guide to Dating...for the boys...


Last week's blog seemed to resonate with some of you, dear readers. Surprisingly though, it got quite a larger response from the male population. Not so much to say “Hey good point. Maybe I should stop my Wickham or Collins behaving ways.” as “...Why not write one for men?”


Why not indeed? Well on the one hand, Pride and Prejudice was written primarily from Elizabeth's perspective, so we are seeing all the characters from a woman's point of view. Also, being a woman myself, it's difficult for me to communicate how the various women in Pride and Prejudice would be seen from a male perspective. But on the other hand, who doesn't like a challenge? Gentlemen, I welcome your commentary. Please take your chance to weigh in on this, because I'm very curious about this from a male's point of view.


Due to the number of female characters, there are quite a few types to explore. But let's start with the sweet.


The Jane Bennett. Sweet, pretty, kind, and at times demure. She's the girl next door. The girl you take home to Mom. The girl most guys probably want to end up with. She is genuinely nice and rarely thinks ill of anyone. In fact, if you tell her about that jerk of an upstart at work who is competing with you for that promotion, she'll probably try to get you to see all the good qualities he possesses. After all, he probably wants that promotion just as much as you do, and you can't blame him for doing what he can to get it. Isn't that what you're doing as well? She will go along with anything you suggest, regardless of how she really feels about it. Rather stay at home to watch the big game instead of going to the ballet you somehow got tickets for? Just say the word and you'll be on that Laz-E-Boy in no time with a beer. She'll just be...knitting or something. A Jane is perfect for your work parties. A well mannered and charming piece of arm candy who will delight your boss and get along perfectly with his wife.


But, dear gentlemen, have you spotted the problem yet in your dream girl? She will never let you know how she truly feels about something, for fear of offending or upsetting you or someone else. In fact, when you're in the process of flirting and dating, you may not even know if she's that into you or not. She smiles and has pleasant conversations with everyone that she meets. So how do you know if it's you that she really wants to be with?


But an even tempered person like a Jane has their limits as well. Since she doesn't actively express her opinion, you have to be a bit more sensitive and empathetic with her. While you know she'll say yes to you staying home and watching the game, do you think that's what she really wants? Do you think that will make her happy? Or will it come back to bite you ten fold years down the road when age has chipped away at that glossy, sweet demeanor?


Staying within the Bennett family, we have the Lydia. Flirty, loud, and fun. Your typical party girl. She's the one dancing on the bar in a mini skirt. The one who stays out into the wee hours of the night at the bar or club. She'll keep you thoroughly entertained throughout the evening with her funny remarks and endless stories...if she's not making eyes at the rest of your friends, of course. At the end of the night, she'll go home with you and the next morning, she'll still be there, probably demanding that you make her breakfast. For the next week, she will text and call you constantly, maybe even show up at your house or at your work if you don't respond. To surprise you. Every time she comes over, she leaves a little something there until she gets that coveted “drawer”. And then somehow you've given her an extra key...and then she's practically living there...and....hinting at a ring now?! How did that happen?!


The problem with the Lydia is that she ropes you in with her vivacity and humor. She's fun and receptive. She won't look away shyly when you make eye contact with her like a Jane would, or snub you like a Caroline would. She is, to be blunt, easy. What's not easy is getting rid of her. She wants it all, and very quickly. In fact, she probably doesn't really care about you all that much. She just wants to be able to run back to her friends and tell them all about how you guys are practically living together. How great and perfect you are together. And how she should be getting a huge shiny rock on her finger any day now. So, you end it with her to stop things from moving much faster than they should, and then you have to deal with the tearful calls and fits at your door. But just give it a little time and she'll be on to the next.


Since I mentioned the Caroline, let's move on to her next. Caroline Bingley. The beautiful, elegant, upper class city girl who seems to look down her nose at anything that doesn't impress her. Which usually is quite a lot. This is the girl who your friends would tell you is “out of your league”. She is extremely good looking, dresses well, cool, and knows it. As I said before, she is the girl who will snub you when you try to make eye contact with her. Who will laugh at you when you attempt to hit on her. Yes, she is that head cheerleader who made you a laughing stock when she rejected your invitation to the prom.


So naturally, she is attracted to status. In the “grown up world”, she is the gold digger or the social climber. The trophy wife, but in a very different way to Jane. She will dismiss you mere mortals with a wave of her hand, but to someone who she deems “worthy”, all her pride and coolness will dissolve into a driving aim to please. In order to get a guy, she may pretend to share his interests, or somehow figure out what kind of girl he usually goes for, and personify that. She is very cunning in her tactics. A good example is a story a friend of mine told me about being at the concert of her roommate.


During the set, the band introduced a song based on the movie “Machete”. A movie which in my opinion is the epitome of everything guys like in a movie. Let's just say, a chick flick it is not. My friend's roommate asked “Who here has seen Machete?” and my friend promptly raised her hand. A couple girls next to her, who had been gushing about how cute my friend's roommate was, saw this, and raised their hands as well. He looked at them and said with a smile, “Oh really? You girls have seen Machete?” Enthusiastic nods from the duo. “What was your favorite part? Was it the part with the aliens?” “Oh yes!” they exclaimed. “The aliens were really cool!” I probably don't have to tell you that unless you count the illegal Mexican immigrants, there were no aliens to be found in Machete.


To jump to a completely other side of the spectrum, we have the Charlotte Lucas. Plain, quiet, and steadfast. Not particularly pretty with any special talents or charm, but loyal, simple, and constant. Her primary goal is security and comfort. While she may not be the girl you pine after or the most exciting person to be around, she is a good companion and will do what she needs to do to get by. She doesn't have delusions of grandeur and if a relationship seems to be working well, she will settle for it, regardless if she feels that there's any love or emotion involved.


There is an interesting take on the character of Charlotte in the web series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, which presents the story of Pride and Prejudice set in 2012. Since the series is set in modern times, it is not as marriage-centric as the original book was. Therefore, Charlotte's character had to be more developed since in the book, she achieves the simple goal of getting a husband who can provide for her and offer her security. In the web series, she is a woman of talent and potential, but without the ambition or desire to dream bigger. She is a cynic and a realist. I think we all know these people. The dreamers among us can get very frustrated with them (as Elizabeth does both in the web series and the book), but in the end, it seems they're content to live their lives simply and without complications.


The other two Bennett sisters, aside from the quick witted Elizabeth, are also certain types, but since their personalities don't quite have flirting styles, I won't go too much into them. Kitty is a follower. She is the friend of the Lydia and is always in her shadow. It's hard to know much about her because she is constantly copying other people who have larger personalities than she does. Mary on the other hand is the stoic, well read, and accomplished girl who doesn't have interest in much else than forcing her knowledge and abilities down your throat. She is book smart without common sense, can do a variety of things, but with a very clinical method and no passion, and has morals without an understanding of them.


Finally we come to Elizabeth Bennett. Witty, intelligent, and outgoing. I touched a lot on this type of person in my last blog, since I consider myself one as well. As I said before, and my mother will agree, she can initially come off as a bit abrasive and at times intimidating. If you say something to her, she'll most likely have a snappy retort, which, if that's not your thing, can be a bit off putting. But at the same time, she is a fun conversationalist in a more intelligent way than the Lydia is. She is genuine and good hearted like a Jane, but more opinionated. Unfortunately she can also be quick to judge. If she decides from the beginning that she doesn't like you, it's hard to convince her otherwise. She is a challenge, like the Caroline, but without the fake, social climbing, gold digger side. If you can break through her walls and earn her respect, she is an extremely caring, stimulating, and loving person with a big heart. She is fiercely loyal to her family and friends and would go to the ends of the earth for them.


The funny thing that I've noticed as I've written this, is that while with the men in Pride and Prejudice, there are about two viable options while the others are fellows you should avoid, the women tend to have more of a spectrum. I would say that you could be with an Elizabeth, Jane, or Charlotte, and depending on the type of person you are, would be happy. Even a Caroline could be well matched with someone who valued her for what she was, and a guy who has a need for a lot of attention and affection would be perfectly happy with a girl like Lydia.


But I want to know what you men think. Which of these types do you think would be best suited to you? Which of them is your “dream girl”? Do different types fall into different categories with you, for example the classic “shag, marry, kill”? This is a more interactive blog, so please comment and share! Thanks and see you all next week for perhaps something a bit different...

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