Have I been on a Merry-go-Round?

We have made it! All five books under our belt. We officially received a gold star in Jane Austen reading. So, for my last blog post on Persuasion, I decided to think back to all the other four novels we have read this semester. Do a little compare and contrast if you will. But, here is the problem. When thinking back to all of the books we have read, I cannot even separate them in my most (in a general sense). Certain things/moments/books stand out. For instance, Emma – probably because it was my favorite, plus I did my presentations on it. But, even with Emma, I cannot remember the specific details of the plot. Heck, I finished Persuasion a week ago and am having a real hard time remembering details about it.

Why the struggle?

After talking with the girls on Tuesday, I think we all (I know me and Sam) thought about how dang similar all of these books were. I mean really. All the same genre, just different characters (some with the same name) with a different obstacle that all has to do with falling in love.

Persuasion:

Boy falls in love with girl. Girl rejects boy. Girl gets lonely. Boy comes back. Boy rejects girl. Boy goes to another woman. Girl is really sad and kind of jealous. Boy decides to come back to girl. They live happily ever after. (Insert many outside characters who create a lot of problems and drama).

How many times have we seen this story in her other books. Pride and Prejudice is really just a more complicated version of this. Emma follows the same principles of love, plus the girl friendship which we see pop up again in Northanger Abbey. Sense and Sensibility is love triangles on overload with more characters than the US Army. And, Mansfield Park was a drag – I can barely remember it (Probably because Fanny was so boring). But, my point being, these are so much alike – so, so, so much of the same story. We (readers) knew how every one of these novels were going to end after the first chapter. Somehow, someway, everyone would end up happy and everyone who was bad would be punished.

Please don’t get me wrong. Some of these books, I really, really, really enjoyed. Emma is probably one of my top 20 favorite books. But, I just don’t understand why we go so crazy for all of her novels. Obviously, these books were probably not written to be read all at once in a four month period so it would not be that obvious if I read the books over a span of years. But, I didn’t. So, now I can’t help but think about it.

What do you guys think?

 Am I the only one here? Am I being unreasonable because it is the end of the semester and I am tired and grumpy? What do you guys make of the series of books and all their similarities? Let me know!

Maybe I was a little hasty….

Reading back over my first blog post about Persuasion, I realize how hasty I was. MEOWWW!

I must have just been in a really bad mood that day. Sorry, Jane. You still my girl.

Having completed the novel, I have much kinder things to say about it now – for the most part. Really, it’s just a different type storyline with the same plot for the other four novels. (But, I have a whole blog post coming on that). In this blog post, I want to talk about the importance of money – then and now – especially considering Sir Walter’s mortification at the idea of having to stop spending so much money, rent out his house, and minimize some things in his life.

When Lady Russell tells Sir Walter that he is overspending, you would of thought it was the end of the world. Seriously. Sir Walter was adamantly opposed to the idea of having to stop spending so much and change his lifestyle. When it came to finding someone to rent his house, he was more picky than a young girl trying to find a husband. He was so concerned about the status of the people that would move into his house. Would they be a representation of upper class and status? If not, Sir Walter did not want them in his house. And this got me thinking.

Was Sir Walter upset because he honestly could not live without the things he was giving up? Or, was he more upset about what people would think about his lifestyle change? Now, the answer seems obvious. Obviously, he could live without the more lavish things in life. It’s not like he was moving to a cardboard box, reducing himself to one meal a day. Sir Walter was simply downsizing and downplaying his life. He just did not want other people to notice or know about it.

Isn’t that the same thing in society today? No matter how much money we actually make, where we actually live, or what our home life is like, we want people to think that we have the nicer things in life. We buy name brand shirts that have logos on the front, just so others will treat us with respect. But, why as a society have we come to respect these materialistic things more than honesty, loyalty, and hard work? We have become so obsessed with the appearance of people that we have completely forgot to examine their character. All the time you see some famously rich person from a television show having to file for bankruptcy, proving that their lifestyle was all a sham just for public approval. And, don’t get me wrong, I completely am guilty of this as well. I don’t like it, but I dress well and keep up my appearances for the sake of gaining respect for others. I do my best to refrain from ever judging others based on the way they look. But, reality sucks sometimes. Society forces us into dress codes, certain styles, and even certain beliefs.

So, are we trying to make money to physically survive and enjoy life or to socially survive the criticism of others?

Beginning Persuasion

Wow! Is it the end of the semester already? Seriously, where did the time go? I feel like we just started laughing and cracking Jane Austen jokes just yesterday. I am finally getting all caught up on my blog, finalizing papers, and it dawned on me as I cracked open Persuasion that this is our last Jane Austen novel. Whaaaaatttt?

As I have really only began to delve into the novel a few things are really beginning to irk me about Jane Austen. While she can come up with some really great love stories and dramas, she really sucks at picking out names. I cannot keep the Elizabeths straight. PICK SOME NEW NAMES, GIRL! I can’t keep track. But, then again, she did not write these 5 novels in 5 months like we have read them so maybe she did not realize how repetitive her name game is getting. Another thing – another marriage debacle?? Come on. Okay, seriously, I like it a little bit. But is there not more to the world then failed marriages, rejected proposals, long distance love, and happy endings? I NEED MORE!

Maybe I am just having an off day and taking out my frustrations on Jane Austen. Sorry, girl. It’s just I really wanted to curl up with a book tonight that was going to keep me on my toes not one that reminds me the pains of falling in love and finding “the one.”

Anyway, into the story.

Anne – already do not really like her. (then again maybe I am just ill) But, seriously, don’t be such a stereotype. You forgo your true feelings because of money, affluence, and status? Of course you do because that is what your daddy told you to do. Grow a pair. (Wow. Did I just write that? Maybe I should stop blogging now.)

And who would have ever guessed that years later after breaking Frederick’s heart that he would come back into her life wealthier than ever. Oh, let me tell you, I guessed. Because where would this novel go without a complicated romance? But, here comes Frederick being the typical rejected male – acting like a real douche, swearing off any and all women because he was kicked to the curb. But, hey, I can’t blame the guy. I would probably be the same way.

So, let’s do a few predictions. I am not sure where this story will go; I really have not even got that far into the story so this is merely a guess (I have yet to read this book before):

Frederick is going to flaunt around with some new girl. She’ll be enough to make Anne jealous and regret her decision to end things with him years earlier. Anne will come crying back to Frederick begging for forgiveness and acceptance. Frederick will decline to make Anne feel the same rejection he had to feel. Anne will accept this decision and attempt to move on with her life. Frederick will feel guilty and come running back to Anne. The two will kiss and live happily ever after.

The End.

Maybe, I should just go to bed. I’m starting to seem like a bigger ass than Anne.

The Mr. Darcy Fascination

Prior to this class, I had never read many of Jane Austen’s novel. I always heard movies and TV shows talk about Pride and Prejudice or being a Mr. Darcy. In fact, I can think of so many times that female characters in media or even just female friends reference Mr. Darcy. Well, now I have read the book and have to wonder: What is the fascination with Mr. Darcy? Why do we find him such an alluring man or at least, the ultimate bachelor? While I really enjoyed this novel, I am still trying to wrap my brain around the obsession with Elizabeth’s on-again/off-again/engaged lover, Mr. Darcy.

Is it because he was the one who acted as is he did not care? (i.e. the bad-boy)

I can understand this. In fact, I think I dedicated a whole blog post to talking about why girls love bad boys and how it usually turns out. When Mr. Darcy came to the ball, he was the one who had little say, but no problem rejecting social invitations to dance and have a good time. So, he came off as an ass. Girls love guys who act like asses. (It’s because we always think that it’s just an act to mask his true sensitivity.) So, was his stand-off-ishness what brought readers in? When I first read through the novel, I did not feel enchanted by his ball behavior. Had I not heard all the hype surrounding his character, I really would not have thought twice about it.

Is it because he masks his feelings only to explode with a surprising (doubtfully romantic proposal)?

So, was I the only one who was a little surprised when Darcy proposed (the first time)? I mean where did that come from? Yea, sure, there could have been some attraction there. But, a marriage – already? It really was not all the romantic to me. He really had expressed little to no feelings prior to this grand gesture. But, are readers impressed with his spontaneity?

Or, do we feel a little sorry for him? Loving him out of guilt?

I will admit, even though I was surprised by the proposal, I felt a little sorry after Elizabeth pretty much flipped Mr. Darcy the bird. I mean she straight rejected his ass. So, do we love him because he had his heart broken? Because he put all his feelings out on the line only for them to be rejected by the woman he loves? I’m not sure.

Maybe his resiliency? After all, he willingly comes back for more. Even after Elizabeth broke his heart, Darcy still chooses to help her family – particularly Lydia. So, even I will say that was kind and considerate. I mean it is obvious he loves Elizabeth to go out on a limb for her sister. And, then, to top it all off, he comes back with another proposal.

So, do we love him because he never gave up on Elizabeth? Because he was a believer in true love?

You tell me. Why do you love Mr. Darcy? Or, do you?

Forward Progress?

After considering the lives of the Bennet sisters, the other female characters in Jane Austen’s novels, and my own research into women’s rights and marriage, I have to wonder, has society really made that much of a forward progression?

Hang with me for a minute. I may be just rambling, or, who knows, maybe I’m on the something…

Let’s think about Pride and Prejudice. Five daughters and only one wish for each of them… to find a suitable man to marry. Mrs. Bennet is seemingly distraught over her five daughter’s “single” status because Heaven knows that success is impossible for a woman without a man by her side. And, it’s easy to think “well, that was like a hundreds of years ago.” But, really, where are we now?

Pre-Victorian times offered women little to no options. Marriage or prostitution…..Which would you choose? And, then we come into times where women begin to realize their worth and fight for some equal treatment and rights. But, even post Women Right’s Movement, women still were judged partially by their marital status. Not to mention, even throughout the 1900’s, a woman’s role was in the kitchen.

So, we’re in the Millennium right? Wayyyy past all that Pride and Prejudice nonsense.  Women are educated, have kick-ass jobs, have babies without a relationship, pay their own bills. But, how do we really value single women in our culture? Even in 2014?

Aren’t all single women today just another one of the Bennet sisters? I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I don’t think we’ve come that far. Let’s take my life for example. I’ll be 24 this month. I have two undergraduate degrees. I am almost finished with my master’s degree in English. I have a great job that I love and upcoming opportunities that I absolutely can’t wait for. I have great friendships and professional contacts. I have happy, fulfilling relationships (even with a man). But, here’s the kicker – I’m not married; I don’t have children.

Now, don’t let my little ego boost above fool you – my life is complicated, hard. I fail some days, most days even, and really have to work for what I have. But, I’m proud of the things I’ve done. However, when I have discussions with people (usually who I haven’t seen in a while), there first question is never about my job, school, or successes. It’s always this….”Do you think you’ll get married anytime soon?” Or, “I’m really sorry that your engagement didn’t work out.”

IT’S 2014, PEOPLE. My life is not defined by marriage and neither is my success. And, don’t get me wrong. I think marriage is great! Timing is always different for everyone. My sister’s 21 and getting married this year. It’s just not for me right now. And, I’m completely okay with that. But, why isn’t everyone else?

How is our society so advanced, yet our women are still always supposed to be “looking for the one?” Are we all just better dressed versions of the Bennet sisters, with society acting as Ms. Bennet?

How Could I Not?

Seriously, how could my first blog post about Pride and Prejudice not focus on Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy? Before this class, I was a Pride and Prejudice virgin. I finally see what all the hype is about. I think it still is second to Emma in my book, but it’s a close call.

I loved the novel, especially Mr. Darcy….but, I think that’s what is supposed to happen, right? And, Elizabeth is an independent spitfire – I love it. She knows what she wants and refuses to settle – an attitude that I think is quite advanced for her time. So, I decided to dedicate a blog post to dear Emma and her road to love with the misunderstood, slightly bad-boy Mr. Darcy.

Ms. Bennet realizes that all five of her beloved daughters are single and without a promising marriage. This. is. a. problem. Things must change!

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Lucky for Elizabeth that she is a very suitable young woman, even a prize. But, make no mistake, she is not one to be messed with or embarrassed. When Mr. Darcy acts like a real ass at the ball, Elizabeth decides to ignore his behavior and deem him a real douche.

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All the while, Mr. Darcy’s just doesn’t like to dance. But, hey, a little misunderstanding never hurt anyone. So, Elizabeth goes on her way, as do the rest of the Bennet sisters, and Mr. Darcy. The ball becomes a thing of the past, and everyone continues on with their life, hoping to find love and success.

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The Bennet sisters stay positive about love…

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Lucky for Elizabeth, here comes Mr. Collins – ready to sweep her off her feet. With his cocky ego and charm, Mr. Collins pops that question that every girl wants to hear….

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…except Elizabeth.

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So, with one refused proposal under her belt, Elizabeth keeps on her merry way – seemingly unaffected by her love life. She’s a n independent woman. And she knows it. .

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35 Things Every Engineer Has To Deal With In College

But, hey, he did try to put a ring on it though. 😉

On her journey to being sasha fierce, Elizabeth crosses path with Mr. Darcy again. Who would have expected that? But, Mr. Darcy seems to be a different man – to the point of a proposal. Where did that come from? Smooth, real smooth, Mr. Darcy.

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As a reader, I’m a little confused. How was I to know they were really in love?

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But, no worries, Elizabeth shuts that down.

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And, then, Elizabeth calls out Mr. Darcy for all the rumors that she has heard about his less-than-stellar character. Maybe she had been holding that in for a while?

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And while Mr. Darcy does not defend himself, he does proceed to write Elizabeth a letter, explaining his actions, making him seem a little less like a bad guy. Now, Elizabeth wonders if all she ever thought about Mr. Darcy was wrong. Maybe she was hasty.

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But, before even having time to think about her own love life, Lydia goes off and makes a real problem for the Bennet family. Where is Lydia? Will she disgrace the family name? Seemingly only Elizabeth can solve this – forcing her to leave Darcy.

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And who else other than Mr. Darcy could step in to save the day?

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His heroic actions save Lydia and the family name, proving his worthiness to Elizabeth. Proceed to Darcy proposal round 2. Proceed to Elizabeth’s acceptance. Proceed to typical fairytale Jane Austen ending.

Celebration.

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Singin’ Along

I think music makes everything better. And, not that Northanger Abbey was not a good read, I just think a little playlist would give it an extra boost. So, let’s travel through the novel with a few catchy tunes.

Catherine is a modest girl with a modest background. She is not too fancy, nor too experience with the finer things in life. After an invitation from the Allens to visit the impressive city of Bathe, Catherine is in for a real treat. After never being a part of such a luxurious lifestyle, Catherine is impressed and taken aback by her new surroundings.

After coming to Bathe and meeting Henry, Catherine is immediately enchanted by their conversation and presumably his looks. While their time together is pretty short, Catherine thinks about their first meeting for long after.

Every girl needs a new friend, especially when in an unfamiliar place. Isabella provides just that for Catherine. With a smart mouth and an attitude to match, Catherine takes to Isabella like a fish to water. The pair instantly becomes the best of friends…well until they aren’t anymore.

Since Henry has disappeared for a little while, it is quite perfect that both Isabella and Catherine have brothers. Isabella wants the two to all be the best of friends, go on double dates, all the fun things that friends and lovers are supposed to do. Unfortunately, John is a prick, but hey, that’s not the point.

Soon Catherine realizes that John is not everything she wants in a man, probably because he is arrogant and a real douche. Plus, she really starts to fall in love with Henry. But, John is not necessarily the best at taking hints. In fact, he thinks everything is going great between the two. When John has to leave for a little while, he leaves with the idea that everything is going great between him and Catherine, that she loves him and will probably be waiting for him. He’s not going to let her too far out of sight. 😉

Even though Isabella has already accepted a proposal from the devoted James, Frederick comes into town like a breath of fresh air. Suddenly, Isabella’s commitment to James is shaky and easily forgettable. Isabella loves some male attention. Really. This song may be her dream.

Then, Isabella dumps James like it’s nothing to her. And we all realize that she ain’t nothin’ but a …..

And, poor James. He has to find out the hard way what a real brat that Isabella is. So, this one’s for him. Shout out, James!

Soon, Frederick leaves Isabella high and dry (like we all expected), and she comes crawling back to Catherine. Catherine realizes what a superficial person Isabella is. She was never that great of a friend at all.

Just when Catherine thinks that everything will work out for her and Henry, John’s insecurities attempt to ruin everything for her. When John tells the General that Catherine is from a very poor family, the General sends word to get Catherine out of his home. Immediately! Poor Catherine, she just wants to be with her true love.

But, alas! The truth finally prevails and in true Jane Austen style, Catherine gets her happy ending.

Isabella – The little tramp that could

I cannot help but smile when I think about Isabella. While she is a real money-grubber who acts only in the interest of herself, she brings a lot of fun to this novel and a lot of laughs. When Northanger Abbey first started, she almost reminded me of Emma who, if you remember, I absolutely loved. Obviously as things progressed, Isabella turned out to be an excessive version of Emma, but for some reason, I enjoyed her. Certainly I did not agree with all her actions and sure, she made herself look like a real tramp, but she made her rounds.

When Isabella and Catherine first met, I could tell by Catherine’s description of Isabella that Isabella was going to be a real force to be reckoned with. With her nonstop desire to gossip about anyone and everyone and her incessant need to be immersed in the society’s fake world, Isabella was kind of a mismatch for Catherine. But, I think Austen did that on purpose. The two balance each other – or at least balance the novel. Catherine is pretty reasonable, unfazed by the superficial nature of the high society. So, she needed a friend to drag her in the gutter every once in a while. 😉

While Catherine and James’s finances are not deeply discussed, I got the feeling that they were what we would call middle class. Median income from a moderate family. While there is nothing wrong with this, I figured that Isabella would need much more than this. With her desire to be in the high society and wear the finest clothes, James can’t offer that much. But, nonetheless, the two hit it off. However, I think this relationship (and Isabella’s future actions) speak more to her own insecurities. Even though James was probably not everything Isabella ever wanted in a man, she still forced herself upon the relationship. To me, this indicates that Isabella is dying for attention, dying to feel loved and wanted. James gave her that – but she spit in his face.

When Henry’s brother Frederick comes into town, Isabella’s love for James is nothing but a memory. Even though she has accepted James’s proposal of engagement, she does not give a second thought to flirting with Frederick. And, despite Catherine’s attempts to keep the two apart, there is no stopping Isabella. So, why go for Frederick? Well she makes it pretty clear that it is because James does not have a deep enough pocket. So maybe her desire to be wealthy and a part of high society trumps her need to be loved and cared for. I can’t figure it out.

But, alas, karma comes right back around and bites Isabella in the behind. After calling off her engagement with James and presumably breaking his heart, Frederick heads for the hills. It is so predictable that Isabella would then reach out to James. Don’t all girls do that? Once rejected, go back to where you were accepted.

Because of  the endings in most of Jane Austen’s novels,I expected her to clean up this little mess for Isabella and give her an ending with a little red bow on top. She surprised me! Whatever happened to little miss Isabella who made her rounds through the men in Northanger Abbey? Jane Austen does not give her and fairytale ending, and I appreciate this. It’s realistic.

In my mind, Isabella probs ended up in Dickens’s Urania Cottage. 😉

Siblings Galore

If it was not for large family sizes, Book I of Northanger Abbey would have gone absolutely nowhere as far as romantic involvements go. And even Book II would not have been near as interesting. Seriously, everyone has a brother/sister who is perfect for a friend. And, honestly, it’s really relatable. While it is almost too good to be true (everyone having an attractive sibling right around the same age as a friend who just happens to be single), I think the concept of friends dating siblings of friends is so indicative of young girls and there desire to do everything with their friends. And while I find it almost kind of cheesy, I really like this element of the novel.

Remember in high school when your best friend and your brother was single? You wanted them to get together because then you could do even more things with your best friend, and you envisioned that she would be your sister. It’s a naive and innocent mindset, but reading about these relationships in Northanger Abbey, I remember feeling that way as a younger woman – wanting all my friends to date other friends/family so we could all do things together. I find it very sweet and simple.

Friendship that spawns all romance: Catherine and Isabella. Insta-friends! I have a lot to say about this friendship particularly Isabella, but never fear, I have a whole blog post dedicated to that little lady – seriously, she is a trip. Despite by personal feelings about Isabella (and eventually Catherine’s), the two do become what they consider best friends. Keep in mind, Catherine has already met and been charmed by Henry Tilney who has no connection to Isabella, but his relationship with Catherine will soon play into Isabella’s love life.

Now, just how much of a coincidence is it that these two girls both have brothers who also happen to be schoolmates and friends? Perfect! When the two “gentlemen” come to visit, Isabella immediately turns on the charm for James (Catherine’s brother). When the two hit it off, Isabella pressures and persuades Catherine to work it for John (Isabella’s brother). While Catherine still has lingering feelings for Henry, her and John do go on outings together much to the pleasure of Isabella. But, things don’t exactly go as planned for John and Catherine (probably because he is a prick), but Isabella and James find love in a hopeless place (shout out Rihanna!)

But, wait! If Catherine doesn’t marry John, Catherine and Isabella can’t be best friends who do everything together with their husbands and who have babies who grow up together! Catherine’s love for Henry just ruins everything. Oh! Henry has an older brother you say? Perfect! Isabella makes that switch-a-roo real quick.

Even though everything falls apart for Isabella (rightfully so), I really like how Jane Austen intertwined all of these relationships and friendships. And I don’t know why I connected so much to this idea and way of creating romantic involvements/ plot twists, but it really intrigued me and made the book enjoyable.

Am I the only one here?

 Well done, dear, Jane!

If I had my own way….

 I think we all get a little nauseous with some of Jane Austen’s endings. She gives us these great plot twists – heartbreak, love gone wrong , girl gone crazy – so many things that she could connect together to give us some crazy endings. Yet, every time she ends a novel, she wraps everything up in this pretty little box with a perfect bow on top. And really, she’ spot on. When we watch movies, read books, etc, we always want everything to work out. But is Jane Austen’s world a little too neat? Is everything just too perfect? I would like to think that this crazy life I am living is going to have a pretty little ending too, but it cannot be perfect. Life’s not perfect. It’s messy and unpredictable and usually leaves us in tears, forcing us to move on to the next part.

So, after finishing Sense and Sensibility, I thought I would write about the more realistic ending of this story. In a world absent of butterflies, rainbows, and compromise, what would really happen to these characters?

Marianne’s escapade with death: If a man’s rejection was enough to send Marianne into a mental state where she no longer cared if she lived or died, she would be in a mental institution. Everyone suffers after a break up. We all do. It’s hard, and we’re sad for a while. Sometimes we gain a little weight; sometimes we lose a little weight. But, after a while, we move on. Maybe we do not completely get over the partner, but we keep going with our life. Marianne completely quit, and everyone felt sorry for her. Had I been in Marianne’s shoes, I don’t know one person who would not think that I was absolutely crazy. And Willoughby? Yeah, he would have probably felt a little guilty and maybe even called to check on her if he thought she was dying. But, doubtful he would have come running back full of remorse. Bad boys don’t care. And, on top of that, he probably would have married for money – and not even felt guilty about it. Bad boy loves wealth and power. Willoughby is no exception. He would not have given Marianne another thought after making sure she didn’t blow her brains out over him. However, Marianne’s epiphany is legitimate. All girls finally come to that point after being dumped. They realize that life really will go on and maybe that douche bag was not everything they made him out to be.

Maybe the Edward/Elinor debacle is possible. But, most likely not. I mean maybe they really were star-crossed lovers for years, only apart because they were forced to be by their situation. But, my grandmother once told me something that has always rang true for me – “If a guy wants to be with you, nothing will stop him from being with you. He will jump leaps and bounds to be by your side. You will never have to wonder.” If Edward really wanted Elinor, he would have been with her – despite any disapproval. If it took him that long to come around, is he really that in love with her? Doubtful.

Marianne and Colonel Brandon’s marriage is probable. Years passed. They were both alone.

People hate being alone. Solution: Get married.