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Pride & Prejudice: Redux

My buddy Blowuprobot has done an updated and much more accessible version of the P&P character map for our pleasure:

[wikipedia's version]

BUP claims not to have read P&P, but I don't think that 1) impacts the ability to arrange information in a graphically superior way, 2) is really necessary given how entirely our postmodern conception of romance is based on this book.

Recently, I watched the 6 hour BBC version (starring an absolutely hypnotic Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy) and was really amazed by how manipulated I felt by the end.

Don't get me wrong, manipulated is good when it comes to story. I'd use that interchangeably with "engaged" or "effective" in most cases and intend it as an entirely positive comment.

But I came away with a little something extra. A sense that my sometimes wonderful and sometimes disastrous romances just don't measure up. And even though I get that's the point with a fairy tale, which P&P is, Austen's narrative has become so well ingrained in popular discourses about romantic love that I couldn't help but feel disappointed.

Having read everything Austen has ever written, I feel fairly confident in saying that her characters, while convincing, are intended to be representational. Just like Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty, with a dash more attitude, perhaps. The fact that we in the modern and post-modern ages feel like we can relate to these characters is, I think, the result of how much Austen's fairy tales have become accepted as dramatic interpretations of real life. That's a bit circular, I know.

My point here is really about how effective stories are at forming our conception of ourselves, of becoming embedded in the cultural discourse and thereby becoming accepted as true. What I personally take away from all this is that, as a storyteller/media maker/mythologist, it is my duty to tell stories that are that exemplary. Rather than describing in detail how our neuroses and insecurities can overwhelm our better judgment - BUT! with the right application of patience, love, and a little obsessiveness we can be cured! - I'd really like to see stories of self-actualization. Not heroes and heroines that come from other planets, or from the gods, but from the population and the application of timeless wisdom about how to make the most of what you've got.

Falling in love may, as a particular friend of mine has argued, take a healthy dose of fantasy, but staying in love and building lifelong relationships (always the part AFTER the book ends) is what takes work and an admirable character. Wouldn't it be great if there were stories about how people actually do this? Or, is that not dramatic enough?

1 comment:

  1. yay! thx for posting my charts!

    "Or, is that not dramatic enough?"

    my guess is that it's not dramatic enough for a novel. it takes so many small [mundane] actions to keep people together when things are going well. but for a blog or something made up of small pieces, a story like that would be ok.

    oh i want to make a blog like that!


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