Reflecting On “Becoming Jane”

 

I accidentally stumbled on a movie I’ve never heard of. An old look I could easily grasp for the clothes. The british accent I’ve loved my entire existence. A gently lightened wood. It was only after seeing it that I decided to read the title.

But no, I’d never guess it would be about Jane Austen, until I read the resume.

I forgot the time and, of course, of everything I should and had to do. I simply continued to watch.

Being a complete stranger to her own life, I shall think that most of the events portrayed in the movie have, indeed, occurred. Of course I heard a mention to Jane’s “Persuasion” at “The Lake House” [a 2006 movie with Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves that I simply adore] and to her “Pride and Prejudice”, whose movie I haven’t watched yet.

And being, myself, the truest type of the lonely romantic creature, I just couldn’t bear that she gave up the love of her life, Tom. Yes, yes, I completely understand her choice, her position – indeed, despite being here, with the truest indignation in my heart and fingers, if I were her, I might have done the exact same thing.

Yet, it seems so painful to live with that sort of loneliness, specially when Tom has said I’m yours, heart and soul and sacrificed everything and everyone who relied on him to be with her. I know that would, at some point, affect them and that she’d always feel worried – and, worse, guilty – for putting someone else’s life at risk. And I also know that knowing that would destroy her and keep her from being entirely happy.

Yet, being on the outside, having never heard a sincere “I’m yours”, and standing two centuries after her, I think I can provide myself the joy [I wonder if I can, even, consider it a joy] of saying that I’d also never forgive myself for letting him go away.

As a mere XXI century watcher, I felt so relieved when he came back and proposed an escape. I truly felt everything would be solved and relatively good.

She ended up not having great things, loosing her beloved one and staying with almost nothing but her writing. “I will live by my pen”, she said and, well, she still does. Even being dead to the world, Jane is still truly alive in her words, in her books.

Again, as a mere and solitary XXI century observer, I can only wonder how everything would be if she hadn’t found the letter, if she actually got married to Tom and they went to Scotland, as they wanted. I can only wonder how life would have been if, along with her characters, she could actually have accomplished what she wanted.

[Obviously, I can’t avoid thinking what if it was me?, what would I do, as a single young woman who had to write to live. She lost love but she kept writing. Well, of course she did. And, I guess, she actually wrote even more, to compensate her inner sorrow.

Oh writers, so predictable, aren’t we?! Creatures who live – or try to – and end up so confused and overwhelmed that they have to write. And no, it’s not just a will, an evidence of being spoiled. Writing is, indeed, for people like us – who have loved a lot, but also suffered a lot – a need.

A need that is, truly, equivalent to the need that everyone who doesn’t write has to breathe.]