Your Heroine Versus Elizabeth Bennet

I had so much fun comparing modern heroes to Mr. Darcy that I thought it only fair to come back and give the ladies a turn. I don’t know that Elizabeth Bennet is the ideal Regency era character to compare modern characters to, but she will just have to do.

Miss Elizabeth Bennet is possessed of fine, dark eyes. Beyond that, we don’t have much to go on with physical appearance. Her wit and sense of humor are presented far more often than any other attributes. Greer Garson stood 5’6” and had red hair. Keira Knightley is 5′ 7” and has light brown hair. And Jennifer Ehle is also 5′ 7” with hair that looks different in every photo of her. For the part of Lizzy, her hair seemed a dark brown.

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Modern heroines seem to run on the tall side, and are fit, strong, and live healthy lives. Mostly. Hair colors tend toward red, but I did read one book recently where the girl had rainbow colored hair. And that played a part in the developing relationship she had going on.

Wit and intelligence colored all of Lizzy’s thoughts and pronouncements throughout her story. But she also knew deep embarrassment at the words and actions of her mother, and the lenient manner in which her two youngest sisters were being raised. A modern heroine would be able to cut herself loose from the family earlier than the age of 20, and is able to work and support herself in most cases. Yet family remains an important aspect of the healthy, well-adjusted heroine. Her brothers and sisters or her lack thereof shapes how she reacts to things like the hero’s family, and how much she will want to be involved with them.

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Miss Bennet did love her elder sister Jane dearly, and her father, in spite of his faults. She accepted Mr. Darcy’s sister’s acquaintance and liked the girl before she realized she loved the brother. These days anything goes, sisters, brothers, step-siblings, cousins, uncles, aunts, grandparents, all can have an important impact on the romance of today. Often older children will need to raise their younger siblings if the parents are killed. A ready-made family might not be what the modern hero is looking for.

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An important aspect of Elizabeth’s story is that her parents produced no sons, and had little ready cash between them. Her portion of a small enough sum spread over five daughters came to pin money, at best. And that would only come to her on the death of her mother. Today, a heroine isn’t necessarily wealthy, but usually has the means to make a living, and most of all a plan, a dream, a goal. She is driven, ambitious, and those goals often put her in conflict with the man who expects to be her hero.

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Sorry, guys, can’t win them all. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Thursday.

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