Monday, July 12, 2010


Over the past few months I have been reading Jane Austen's six novels. I have been reading Emma for about a month now and I am having a really hard time getting through it. The other five were a delight and I ate up the pages like they were chocolate (one of my other favorite things!). Austen has a way of capturing the essence of humans in all their glory and folly. Even though she wrote her novels over two hundred years ago there have been times in my reading when I have exclaimed to myself, "I know someone who is exactly like that!!" She really understands human nature and character. I think that why I'm having such a hard time with Emma is because the person that I see reflected in Emma's strengths and weaknesses is myself.

For those of you who haven't read Emma I will give you a picture of her character. She is rich, spoiled, bored, self-absorbed, kind, compassionate, jealous, opinionated, full of passion, eager to please, gifted, judgemental, prideful, caring, family-oriented, sweet, witty, willing to try new things, helpful and intelligent. These are the most obvious traits of Emma's character but as you can see from the list, Emma is a complicated and somewhat contradictory young woman. Throughout the novel, Emma's world is deconstructed. The things that she thought she knew, her life's philosophy, how she viewed people and made judgements are all knocked off their axis. The one constant in her life, is a life-long neighbor and friend, Mr. Knightley. He is often the one who questions Emma's motives or the governing principles that she lives by. He loves her when her faults are obvious and blaring and when the goodness, that really is there, shines out. He is a teacher who can see both sides of Emma and pull the goodness out of her. His constancy, wisdom and faithfulness are beacons to Emma's wayward and stubborn willfulness. They are polar opposites in every respect.

I have a polar opposite too. God. Reading this novel has made that very obvious to me. I feel like I'm being deconstructed too. I'll try to describe what I mean by that.... it's about unlearning habits that keep me stuck, it's about unlearning ways of thinking that have been bookmarked for my entire life and keep me from seeing people without judgement, and it's about unlearning man-made ideas of what it means to live a life of faith. I'm not saying that I have this all figured out or that I ever will or that the deconstruction will ever end but there is hope in the midst of it all. I have a constant, my polar opposite, my friend. His goodness is my beacon. His love, my anchor. His character, my standard.

1 comment:

  1. Oh the book if you are in a classic kind of mood. Any of her books will speak to your life, if you let them!!! Happy reading!