GPA: 4.341; Rank: (School does not rank.)
College: Columbia University
In my best moments, I would like to think I resemble Elizabeth Bennet, the gloriously spirited heroine of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. In reality, I would be lucky to resemble any of Austen’s female protagonists, for they are each strong, warm, witty, wonderful women who still manage to stay relevant 200+ years after their literary conception. Lively and relatable in their emotional travails, Austen’s women seem like they could have been plucked from our own neighborhoods, save the peculiar social customs and the constraining attire.
How do these heroines remain relevant in a world that is concentrated on keeping up with those Kardashians? I would like to believe that the romantic blunders of Elizabeth and Darcy are most often encountered by virtue of Austen’s structured yet airy, ironic yet light-hearted prose, but I know this is not often the case. We have Hollywood — or more frequently, the BBC — to thank for Austen’s enduring popularity. Like many, I am drawn into these adaptations by the heart-pounding romances that bind Austen’s characters, but I stay with Austen — in written form — because of her wit and acute observations.
For most, Austen on film serves as an introduction to her work, but for me, the adaptations become an analytical game: Does the film stay true to the novel? Is the film more Romantic a la Keats, or is it as tight as Austen’s sentence structure? The 2005 film version of Pride and Prejudice, often seen as an affront to Austen purists (and Colin Firth devotees) is one of my all-time favorite movies because of its Romantic feel. I have also watched every adaptation of Emma, suffered through the latest attempt to make Mansfield Park interesting, and cooed over the naivety of Catherine Morland in the 2007 rendering of Northanger Abbey. The elation I glean from watching an Austen book on screen, the absolute contentment of knowing I have found a new friend in a Bennet or Dashwood sister — those are the feelings that make that small, quiet woman of letters magical to me, keep her as a constant source of comfort, and ensure that her words and work will be passed down to any woman (or man!) I care about.