Friday, May 1, 2009

The jury is in: "Emma"

I'm a frumpy old lady. Period. Frumpy. Old. That's me.

I just watched the movie Emma, with Gwyneth Paltrow. Horrified, my husband sat with me, wireless internet running full-speed ahead, pretending not to watch. Being a guy, he had never read the book, OR watched the movie. He was skeptical. Not me. I wanted to BE Emma. I wanted her estate, her servants, her furniture; I wanted to wear all her pink clothes, and I wanted to be a lady of means, and well, I was already her big scheming self. With a good heart, of course. I always mean well, but let's be honest. I'm a schemer.

I'm a schemer who loves brocade. Floral patterns. English gardens. Empire waists. Yes, I know that I look 12 months pregnant whenever I try the look, but we're just dreamin' here, aren't we? I want to have afternoon tea in a real silver pot and dinner by crystal prism-dotted candlelight, my thick drapes drawn against the evening chill.

I have an aunt. Mentally, it is pronounced "Auhnt," but only for this lady. When I was a kid, she supplied me with every book needed in the pursuit of becoming a fine lady. She had a subscription to Harlequin Romance, plus a massive collection of other choices and gave me free reign over her entire library. There were thousands of books, and I literally read them all. Including Jane Austen. I was a junkie, and Aunt Leuna was my dealer. I didn't care what the books were about, but loved the exotic settings -- I devoured them. They spoke of things one didn't ordinarily encounter in Six Mile. I knew Bath, England, like the back of my hand. London, too. In fact, I often missed points in elementary English for using the English spelling instead of the American spelling. I confess that I felt no remorse. In my mind, I was right, and Mrs. Best was wrong. (On so many fronts!)

But back to "Emma." It has been many years since I read the book, but was moved by several quotes in the movie. Mr. Knightly said, and he was so right, that "The truest friend does not doubt, but hope."

Oh. My. Goodness. I cherish my friends that hope the best for me, instead of doubt. And, boy, do I ever give them reason to doubt!

And how many times have I, the Queenofthehill, shown Charity -- but not Kindness? My face burns with shame at the recollection.

When I watch "Emma," I feel a little guilty to relate so well with her, but am relieved that I'm apparently normal! Where my hubby sees gossip and manipulation, I see Emma and know that Jane Austen understood that I'm just happy and therefore want everyone else to be happy. So I scheme. It's my job. I'm sure this will make me a nightmare for my daughters-in-law!

Another thing that I love about this book/movie (other than the final lesson that God is such a better schemer than the best schemer amongst us) is the idea that people of that era understood the responsibility of their station in life and that people would follow their direction about treatment of others. I think that's a lesson we can each apply to ourselves, within our own sphere of influence.

"And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." 2Pe 1:7-8

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