It is a truth universally acknowledged, that your books have truly withstood the fickle test of Time.
Some critics like to make stuffy statements, alleging that your imagination was restricted to the tedium of commonplace, ordinary life (I’m looking at you Charlotte Brontë). Yet to me, dear Jane, it is your remarkable ability to find beauty in the simple, everyday going-abouts of universal human experiences, that contributes to the resounding music of your novels through the ages.
Something as simple as visiting a neighbour or going out for a ride in a carriage is, remarkably enough, observed through a positive lens. There is no unnecessary romanticism or flowery language in your writings- you simply speak the plain, unadulterated truth. Combined with your oh-so-hilarious wit, tipped with the slightest touch of sophisticated restraint, you have truly provided me with a means of escape. Yet whilst I may have opened your novels to escape the bore of monotonous routine, miraculously, you somehow subsequently equipped me with the ability to find beauty in the buzzing quietude of my own life.
You also gifted me with a unique window into the mysterious past. I note that we have ingenious writers such as Charles Dickens, who provided insightful social commentary on the class divide. I marvel at the brilliant Brontë sisters, who mingled the dark realities and grim barriers of life with the universal quest for happiness. I read Thomas Hardy’s forward-thinking novels, impressed by how he challenged the restrictive legal and social mores imposed upon women.
Then, I look to your writings, dear Jane. How you stand as an observer, narrating the stories of “OUR heroine(s)”- whether it be the silent yearning of Anne Eliot, the well-intended meddling of Emma Woodhouse, or the witty discourse of Lizzie Bennet. Whilst I observe the human flaws in each of these heroines, you teach me to love them, nonetheless.
Now, the next aspect of this letter pokes at a soft spot with a rather hot iron rod. That is, the belief- as utterly ridiculous as it is- that you, dear Jane, are a culprit of the first class. That you have wilfully allowed the Pygmalion Legend to infiltrate your writings. You are accused by many men worldwide, across the span of 3 different centuries, of creating the Perfect Man. When he’s not secretly saving the reputation of impressionable teens, he tends to go by the name of… Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy.
Scores of men have grown to wince at the very mention of Mr. Darcy! To such men, Mr. Darcy represents the unattainable, idealised standards that women have glorified, rendering me (and countless others), unfit for the ‘real world’. Yet such men ignore the fact that you, lovely Jane, have on the contrary, provided us with a very flawed and realistic image of a man. A man who was required to undergo his own journey of self-conscious adversity. A man who almost lost the love of his life, thanks to his snotty upbringing and anti-social distance. Still, he perservered, learning to overcome his Pride and, like every other human on this planet should endeavor, he learned from the errors of his ways. For this, he was rewarded with his rightly-deserved happy ending. He, to me, does not seem like an elusive and deified angel- he is the image of a man who knows when he is wrong and learns to improve for the better. That is an expectation of all of us, both men and women alike, whether we may be Proud or Prejudiced or worse.
Ultimately, Jane, you did not simply teach me that we all deserve more than the Mr/Mrs Collins of this world. You taught me to find beauty in the ordinary and that everybody can stumble across their happy ending- even nasty old Wikham.
Yours most faithfully,