Tuesday, September 15, 2009


My mother encouraged me not to post this. She said I sound mean and bratty (what’s new, right?). I kept going back and forth about whether or not to do so, but have obviously decided to post. Let me start off by saying, I have superb friends. Especially guy friends. I am by no means trying to poke or pick at any of you. You guys are great and I love you. Seriously. That being said, take what will follow (if you even decide to read this…I know it is long) with a grain of salt. It started with a small discussion I had a few months ago with Vickie and then somehow turned into essentially a discourse on men in 19th century literature and their lasting impression on women today. A little writing bug bit me and I simply had to get my ideas out. That being said…(remember I truly do love you guys):

Many have named Disney and chick flicks as the driving force behind the wheels that have spun the great delusions some women have when it comes to the ideas of love and romance. This is a very small and minute part of the problem. The real problem lies with the relationships in such literary works as Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice. Yes, I understand these books could in a way be considered precursors to chick flicks (as many have been made into movies anyway), but what I want to discuss here has less to do with the concept of “happily ever after,” and more to do with the specifics of the men in these two novels. Mr. Rochester and Mr. Darcy. They gladly tell you yes I am a jerk, grumpy, sarcastic, rude, and brooding, but throw in a little “but you can find the good in me!” just to confuse things. This is how the delusions all got started.

Exhibit A: Mr. RochesterMr. Rochester is the love interest in Jane Eyre. Just to give a little background, Jane (plain just as one might imagine) comes to work at his manor, Thornfield, as a governess to what is assumed to be his illegitimate French daughter, Adele. From the beginning, he treats Jane terribly, embarrasses her, lies to her and even stoops so low as to ask her to be his mistress. In the end of course love conquers all (Really. It is a gothic novel. Ghosts, fortunetellers, creepy candle-lit nights with sounds of a monster coming from the attic. There is much to be conquered.) and all is forgiven.

Exhibit B: Mr. DarcyThis case is not quite as strong as it is more two sided. I guess one could say Elizabeth is somewhat equally to blame. Regardless, it can easily be noted that Mr. Darcy is a pretty big jerk, especially initially. He is quick to show his true colors and boorish attitude. After seeing Elizabeth for the first time he says “she is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me.” Of course being the gentleman he is he makes sure she is just within earshot. After later he confesses his love to Lizzy, which he makes clear that it was “in vain [he has] struggled” as he has tried to repress these feelings in the first place because we all just know he’s so much better than her and from a higher class in society and all; he is bewildered by her disdain for him. Being shocked by her long list of things that lead to this disdain he tactfully asks “could you expect me to rejoice in the inferiority of your connections? To congratulate myself on the hope of relations, whose condition in life is so decidedly beneath my own?” Bravo Darcy. Bravo.

Yes, maybe Elizabeth’s pride was indeed injured by his words leading her to be more spiteful than usual, but all of the things she said were true (at least to her knowledge at the time). No need for Darcy to degrade her even more in the manner he does.

Well, thus is love, right? It all works out in the end. Luckily they realize what caused them so much trouble in the first place is how alike they are after all. I must note that Darcy does take extreme measures to redeem himself. Measures that are completely swoon worthy and would make any girl weak in the knees. So props to Darcy for this.

I guess the point I am trying to make here is why all the jerk attitude in the first place? I will easily admit to being in love with Misters Rochester and Darcy (Um hello talk about fantastic last names. I think Leah Rochester has a certain ring to it.) in a strictly “novel” sort of way.

This has led me to be concerned. Do I honestly believe that even if a guy were to be a total jerk to me he might change and learn to love me the way he should? As much as my brain wants to say “no” sadly, I’m pretty sure I subconsciously do think this. Fortunately, I haven’t been met with this problem just yet in my life. Here’s crossing my fingers that I never do. Stay away from me jerk guys, okay? I’m not sure I will be able to restrain myself.

One more thing. Why, even though characters and real life guys like Bingley (don’t you just adore him and his red hair in the new version?) are so much more winning and lovable is it Darcy that I am in love with in the first place? Curse you 19th century novels and your confusing but oh so attractive, dark and brooding Misters.

P.S. Just in case anyone is still scared remember, I am not anti-men by any means. I really do consider all my guy friends to be of the utmost quality. This is just something I have been contemplating ever since Vickie and I were half asleep and chatting about it at 3am on the way back from Bon Iver. I believe our conversation then was more along the lines of being in love with the characters rather than why we were. This was me trying to figure out why.


cmonayyy said...

Leah, I love your posts. I will miss you for 1.5 years! You are wonderful and smart and beautiful, Leah Morris (:

Amy Doll said...

I love reading your thoughts! I miss you already.

I have fallen for the jerk. While I didn't necessarily think he would change just because he was dating me, I did keep finding admirable qualities in him. Maybe that led me to subconsciously believe that he could change and that the relationship was worth it. It's just hard, you know? Because nobody is all bad even if they aren't mostly good.

Myke said...

This post wasn't mean or bratty. And it didn't come across as anti-men.

If I may say so, I don't think the initial 'jerk attitude' is because that person is a jerk. This at least seems to be the case with Rochester and Darcy. Of course there are real jerks out there, but if Jane and Lizzy could fall in love and be happy with their respective suitors, then wouldn't that imply that they weren't really jerks to begin with? (This might especially be true with a book called Pride and Prejudice.)

It seems like part of love is figuring out how the other person needs to be loved, perhaps accounting for part of the initial jerkness.

And, since we're on the subject, when I listened to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies I was surpised (and slightly embarrased) how much I enjoyed the actual story. I guess it's something like 90% of the original novel with zombie attacks making up the extra 10%. I can see why some girls are all about Mr. Darcy (even if his first name is Fitzwilliam). I still haven't figured out the Twilight thing yet though. Apparently some girls' standards have declined since the 1800s.

And apparently, guys have a similar problem.

Katie said...

I love this Leah!

I totally understand what you are getting at, and you did not sound mean or bratty at all!

I tend to fall for the jerk 9 times out of 10. I think something has to do with the attitude itself. perhaps, arrogance/cockiness mistaken for confidence. Much like Amy, I always find things that are admirable and intriguing that offset the jerkiness. Perhaps there's something intriguing about trying to push through and find out how someone needs to be loved in order to soften them.

CassParelli said...

I enjoyed your post too! I agree with Katie. I think girls confuse arrogance with confidence, and that confidence is extremely attractive. I also think boys exude a sort of arrogant mask, if you will, to hide their poor self esteem and/or nervousness. Fun thoughts!! Can't wait to see you! Well maybe?

Vickie said...

Myke, thanks for posting that link. I am going to buy it. i think i need to learn to be a B****

Leah said...

Christina: Ditto. Seriously.

Amy and Katie: I totally get what you are saying about finding the good qualities in someone and ignoring the bad. It’s really easy for me to do this too. We have been taught our whole lives that we are supposed to do this, right?

Myke: I agree with what you’re saying, especially when it comes to Darcy. I will be the first to admit that he is indeed a top notch gentleman even if his pride (just as Lizzy’s does as well) got in the way in the beginning. He was after all simply trying to protect his best friend (a very admiral thing to do).

I also very much agree that it’s important to find out how someone else needs to be loved. Ryan Adams said “love her in the ways you want to be loved.” Sorry Ryan, but you’re wrong. Each person feels and interprets love differently so it makes sense that they would need to be loved differently. My bff Amanda swears by the book The Five Love Languages.

I guess what I am more concerned with is how is someone supposed to know if it’s just initial jerkiness or real jerkiness? How long is someone supposed to wait around figuring this out even if indeed deep down the other person is really a wonderful person? This is what scares me.

And yes, I agree. A lot of guys do love brats. Marion posted about that a while back. I talked to Tom about this once and he said he thinks it has something to do with the idea of the girl being the ultimate challenge. I think most guys like the opportunity to prove themselves and to compete in some way or another.

Where does this leave people like me and Vickie (haha Vickie I loved what you said about buying the book so you can learn how)? I’m not saying I’m an angel by any means (I’m not even close), but it’s really difficult for me to be “mean” (play hard to get or whatever you want to call it) to someone I like. If I like someone I will do anything for them. It’s just not in my nature to pretend like I don’t care. In fact I just wrote this to Vickie a few days ago “I can't be mean to boys that I like! I don't know how! I just want them to know how much I like them. Is that so bad? How do I learn to be mean to the boys I actually like (it's so easy for me to be mean to the boys I don't like and I swear I notice them being more attracted to me because of this but then I'm like NOOO. I don't like you dummy. I like that little shy boy over there that won't give me the time of day! Ugh, curse my life.”

Alas, c’est la vie.

Cassie: I hope I get to see you guys! And don’t worry, you’re advice from a year ago is still my favorite. “Find the hottest guy in school, act really confident and he will be fall in love with you. The end.” Hmm I guess this advice will have to wait a few years to be used!

Vickie: Did you notice my editing? Haha. I tried to make it a little more polite and I am happy to know I achieved this.

Thome said...

well first of all I'm pretty sure no one else was awake at 3 a.m. on the way back from bon iver. you popped up for a weezer song or so but that was it.
As far as your post, a great poet once penned "nice guys finish last, when you run out of gas"

Leah said...

Taww-umm (This is in a really annoying voice.). Yeah, I think you're right about us sleeping a lot of the way, but I was probably awake a decent amount of it too. I usually like to assign myself as "make sure the driver stays awak-er" so I think I remember being awake but just not talking. You know just to keep an eye on things but allow the other passengers to sleep.

Also, Vickie's and my conversation was about 5 mins long and took place as we were entering Rexburg. So it wasn't some huge long ordeal. Sorry, just had to make sure my "readers" didn't think I was a liar or something.

One more thing. I think the last little leg of the drive (heading up and down the hill to the ridge) was Rocket Summer. I liked the soundtrack of that trip a little old school (purevolume style) hellogoodbye, of course blink one hundred and eighty two made an appearance at some point and so much more.

Autumn said...

I love this post...I completely agree (except for the Mr. R thing...I think he should have been left mopey and blind in the end).