Monday, March 31, 2008

A Little Sense

Tonight you're mine completely
You give your love so sweetly
Tonight the light of love is in your eyes
But will you love me tomorrow

~ Carole King, song lyrics from Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow

Now thou hast lov'd me one whole day
Tomorrow when thou leav'st, what wilt thou say?

~ John Donne, Woman's Constancy

Oddly enough, after referencing Jane Austen in my post the other day, I stumbled upon a miniseries version of her novel, Sense and Sensibility, on Masterpiece Theater. True to form, although I have both read the book and seen the Hollywood version of the film (with Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, and Alan Rickman), I didn't recall much of the plot at all, so I settled snuggly into my oversized couch and prepared myself for an installment of a delightful period piece.

I must say that watching the film stirred up a feeling for me of what I might call righteous anger. Part one showed young Marianne Dashwood (a tender 17) spraining her ankle while out walking, and being tended to by the charming, affable Willoughby. He just happens to pop up at the moment she injures herself, and from that moment on, it seems he never leaves her side. She immediately falls in love with him, but what girl wouldn't? He asks for a locke of her hair (something that during that period of time was usually saved for those who were engaged or at the very least, about to be). He gives her a beautiful white pony that he had reared himself. He takes her out riding around the countryside, and even convinces her to see his estate whilst they are out together unaccompanied. But then, at the very moment when Marianne and her whole family expects him to propose, he backs out of the picture, making both his apologies and excuses.

Now I shall quote to you from an interesting book that I read a couple of months ago:

"The same tendency not to take responsibility-- to keep their options open, not to get involved-- is what makes young men so dangerous. The villains in Jane Austen's novels are not rapists, wife-beaters, or even jealous husbands. They're men who don't stick around. It's not men's violent, "controlling" urges that make it necessary for parents to look out for their daughters; it's men's tendencies to avoid (or weasel out of) commitment that do. In each of the novels there's at least one man who pays a woman the kind of attention he knows (if he thinks it through) that he shouldn't pay her unless his intentions are serious-- and they're not. In Jane Austen's views, this behavior seems to be an occupational hazard of being male."

This is taken from the book "The Politically Incorrect Guide to English and American Literature," by Elizabeth Kantor, Ph.D. The book takes a look at classic authors and their literature and makes the case that much can still be learned from these great Western works. I am sure it is a book that I shall quote again, but for the moment, I have to agree entirely with with what she writes above. If frailty, thy name is woman, then inconstancy, thy name is man.

My grief with every man who has ever professed to be in love with me is that they have the ability to be consumed by, and in turn, consume you in a great passion. But, that fire that burned so bright, and which made promise of enduring love, blows out just as quickly. How loathe I am to open my heart anymore.

For sweetest things turn sourest by their deeds
Lilies that fester, smell worse than weeds.

~Shakespeare, Sonnet 94

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