Sunday, January 31, 2010

When you know you've had a little too much Austen!

I admit, I have been putting off writing this particular blog now, for about a month. I regret to say that the reason I am so apprehensive of writing is that it I struggle to know where to start. 

After seeing the movie "Julie & Julia" I realized that I wanted a reason for having a blog.  Up until this point I believe that I have had one, in essence, to be like everyone else.  I decided that I needed to find a goal or purpose for my blog, and after much deliberation I have come to a conclusion.  I would like to use this blog as a place where I can research, explore and re-define what it means to be an "accomplished woman" in this day and age.  "Sure," you're telling yourself, "Lacee's been watching too much Jane Austen."  Oddly enough, the idea actually was inspired by a quote from Pride & Prejudice, but as the idea has aged and fermented in my brain, it has come to symbolize my finding a better me.

Here's the quote:

``Oh! certainly,'' cried his faithful assistant, ``no one can be really esteemed accomplished, who does not greatly surpass what is usually met with. A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half deserved.''

``All this she must possess,'' added Darcy, ``and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.''  (Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, 1.8.46-57)

I think it makes you wonder if today the art of grace and charm as well as the austenian definition of accomplishment has been pushed off to the wayside in mainstream society due to lifestyle change.  As if it was sloughed off as another one of the things associated with the diminutive feminine that became so taboo during the sexual equality war of the 60's.  Now, it seems that most women favor financial and executive success in exchange for that which once merited them the description as "the fairer sex."

Robert Powell said in his book The Secrets of Charm (1954,  introduction):

As a tribute to feminine charm, Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote:

"When you praised her as charming, some asked what you meant,
But the charm of her presence was felt where she went."

No one before or since has been able to better this description.  You cannot define charm in a word, measure it with a ruler, weigh it on a scale.  Still, we know when we are in its presence; we are warmed by it and made to feel that life is good.

By my aim going forward, to explore what it means in this day and age to be "accomplished," I mean to show:  how we as women can cultivate the strength needed to achieve the success we desire, but not loose ourselves in the process.