It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.
So begins Jane Austen’s most popular novel Pride and Prejudice, the story of young Elizabeth Bennet’s search for true love in a world that exaggerates the necessity of romance in a woman’s life. As a master of social irony, Austen was well aware that although this statement may have been “universally acknowledged” at the time, it remains to be anything but true.
Truth is not always that which the majority believes it to be; it is often disguised as myths found in the popular trends of social normality, myths that a girl like Elizabeth Bennet is able to debunk. Elizabeth is, in essence, a modern woman well before her time. She is able to see past the delicacies and deceits of corseted ball gowns, budding romances, and pretentious suitors, all of which make the young women around her swoon with anticipation.
The simplicities of the female lifestyle do not satisfy Elizabeth’s longing for a life of purpose and meaning for the mere reason that she, unlike her sisters, is unwilling to exchange her desire for truth with a fleeting happiness inspired by a gentleman’s passing fancies. She refuses to take the hand of a man for whom she feels anything but wholehearted love, and instead she chooses to sleep soundly with a well-deserved pride in her nonconformity.
Being a nonconformist while staying true to one’s femininity is not the easiest way to meander through life—especially when the only way to journey down the road of life is to travel with a man who can afford a horse and carriage—but Elizabeth realizes that femininity is not made up of just pink parasols, rouge lips, and charming smiles for the sole purpose of attracting eligible men. She is aware that the shining characteristic of true femininity is the wisdom of a woman: the ability in a man-made world to see the truth for what it is, not what we wish it to be, and the desire to seek this truth above all else.
As women, we, like Elizabeth, must subject ourselves to truth before we allow ourselves to be subjected to men. It is often too easy to get caught up in the flirtations and giddiness of a love affair, but if we are not seeking a relationship that is real and lasting, we forget to act as the wise women we have the potential to be. In this generation, with wedding rings as a sign of status and physical affection a sign of acceptance, we are sometimes led to believe that these reflections of love are more important than love itself, and we may even be tempted to accept an offer of marriage simply to partake in the social game that love has become. This game, as well as the significance others place upon certain aspects of a relationship, however, is not the truth that we seek; it is a falsehood that, at times, obstructs our view of the true love that awaits us in the future.
In this generation, with wedding rings as a sign of status and physical affection a sign of acceptance, we are sometimes led to believe that these reflections of love are more important than love itself…
While many girls give their hearts to the first man they find in hopes of fulfilling their dreams, truth-seeking women dream to be fulfilled. We want a love that completes us and celebrates our unique individuality, a love that speaks the truth so loudly that we can no longer hear the lies of society. Yet, in order to hear the voice of truth—whoever he may be—we must listen. When Elizabeth met her beloved Mr. Darcy, she at first did not recognize his true character because of the gossiping voices around her spreading rumors of Darcy’s cold and conceited nature. Elizabeth had to learn to listen to the truthful voice within herself and form her own opinions about Darcy, which eventually led her to hear the truth from Darcy himself. It was there she found true love.
So ladies, don’t fret about conforming to society’s standards when it comes to relationships. Even if you’re the only woman you know who has yet to have her left hand adorned with a diamond, take heart! It is far better to be wise enough to wait for a love that is true, and even more so, a love that is truly meant for you. Be bold enough to be a Bennet, wise enough to wait, and always choose character over conformity.
Remember: only the nonconformists find the Mr. Darcys.
Image of Keira Knightley in Pride and Prejudice via Google