Friday, July 27, 2007

Reading God in Jane Austen

This past Wednesday, I finished reading the book Persuasion by one of my favorite authors--Jane Austen, the writer of Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, and Emma. There are very few authors who can match her craft with profound vocabulary, English social satire, and a grasp on human nature, particularly that of femininity.

Her craftsmanship, however, is not the only reason for my adoration of her works. There is something intangible that makes her stories appealing to me, and it took me years to analyze it out.

Persuasion did not captivate me from the first chapter like Emma or Pride and Prejudice did. It seemed boring at first, and there seemed to be no promise of a happy resolution for the heroine Anne and the man she loved. Yet something kept me reading, and that something directed me to see why Austen writes in a way that nurtures faith in the divine.

In all of Austen's novels that I've read, there is always a happy ending, an ending in matrimony that gives total poetic justice to all the characters involved. The heroines always end up with the men that suite them best, even when those men were initially disregarded by them or uninterested in them. In reading every novel, I could trust in a perfect ending, even if I know that the leading man for the heroine might not be what I expected. There will be a just and happy ending...and that kept me reading.

Another element of Jane Austen's heroines that teaches me a lesson is their need to prove themselves before receiving their "prince charming." Anne had to prove her steadfastness, Emma had to admit her misled notions, Elizabeth had to overcome her prejudice, and so on. These women had to earn their happiness, and prove their worthiness of a perfect ending.

These were two ideas that kept me reading Persuasion, and as with every other time, I wasn't disappointed. I read my perfect ending, and I rejoiced that Anne earned it for herself.

At the same time, those two ideas came to be applied to myself. God has a perfect resolution for every person's love story, and that is enough encouragement to "read on." The ending might not be what is initially apparent or expected, but God is in charge and has His perfect plan.

As His children, however, we are not supposed to wait passively for this perfect ending to come upon us. While we can never prove deserving of any gift from God, we could still strive to be as worthy of His presents as we can be. I don't know what form that "perfect ending" would take for me, for my family, and for my friends...but the Great Author is writing, and I will happily, anticipatingly read on.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am blessed yet again with another insightful post. Though I am not a Jane Austen fan (yet), I am a fan of the "Great Author".

Some people see God's intervention in their lives as if His hands are only meant to clean up after the mess they have made of it. Others see God as a boy in front of a gumball machine, all he can do is drop a coin, twist the knob, watch helplessly as the gumball rolls and swirls around, and only get to touch the gumball as it pops out at the other end.

This post is a great reminder of how much our God isn't like that. He is our "Great Author", each of our lives twist and turn is no accident under his divine authorship. Thus, we can indeed just faithfully and anticipatingly 'read on'.

Soli Deo Gloria!