Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The thing about Ugly Betty ...

... and Pride & Prejudice
... and probably many, if not most, other girlie stories. I think it's less about the man being initially not-attracted and then an attachment forming (i.e. Daniel & Betty, Lizzie & Darcy) and less about changing minds, and more about actually changing. Daniel was promiscuous and shallow. Betty was uptight and unfashionable. But through Betty's continual good influence, Daniel deepens and softens, but strengthens. And comes find himself genuinely caring for someone (Betty, of course!). And Betty changes, too. Becoming bolder and more aware, but still true to herself. And Darcy was prideful and filled with disdain, but because of Lizzie changed. And Lizzie was prejudice and quick to judge, but later acknowledges her judgments to have been wrong. (Interestingly enough, the things she was most wrong about were related to her. How often does that happen to us? We can see other people's situations so much more clearly than our own. And it probably ought to be the other way around.)
We want to be a force for good, I think. So we're drawn to stories where the characters are flawed, but in the same way/degree we're flawed (so we can identify with them), but who manage to positively affect someone else's life.
It was important that Daniel end up the way he did. It was a sort of redemption. And we need stories of redemption. We need to know both 1. we can change and 2. we can affect change. Especially by wholly ourselves -- like Betty.
It is significant that neither case set out to change the other, but it was a natural process -- there was something intrinsically attractive about the nature of the other person that drew the other person into their life and their way ... each slowly transforming the other.
Given the option between love at first sight and this slow transformation, I think I'd choose the latter. There is something very romantic about love at first sight, but something more enduring about the metamorphosis -- more organic, more secure, more lasting and deeper ... but I think this is only to me, or at least, not for everyone.

As a side note, I was at work today and overheard the mother of a girl I've know for years saying her daughter had receive a fullbright, etc. etc. "my daughter's so awesome" sort of things, but with such an air of nonchalance that it was even more annoying like "of course my daughter received a fullbright ... she's brilliant and my daughter! She got that brilliance from somewhere, you know?" Anyway, I found myself judgmental and annoyed (in case you didn't pick up on that) and then I wanted to go get a fullbright. I mean, I've wanted to get a fullbright for a long time anyway, and have looked into the process several times, but have found other things to do, other ways to live. And that ought to be fine. I mean, I have a job in an orchestra! And am a founding member of an exciting new musical venture! Beat that. But still, I feel the need to prove to that mother and that daughter that I'm just as smart as she is. That I can be smart, too. But I know I'm smart. (Not to brag.) And I've been the places she's been before. (Again, not to brag.) And my story is just a different story and my journey has a different path. Not better or worse. Just. Different. But still ... Grr ...


amyrose said...

Have you read "The Girl of the Limberlost"? Not only is that one of my favorite books, but it has a pretty sweet (I think) love story.

Oh, beware the temptation to compare! It's extremely hard not to compare myself as a mom to other moms, and my children to other children. I always want Hallie to be the cutest, the smartest, etc., and I have to reign that in... I've never told anyone that. Obviously I try to discourage it in myself, as I realize it isn't healthy... but it's a fight!
AND I sincerely hope that since I am consciously fighting it I manage to refrain from irritating people with the way I talk about her... but I am still weak, and I know pride creeps in sometimes. Forgive me, please!

The Wibbler said...

Haha! The difference is that Hallie really IS the cutest, smartest, everything-awesome-est! ;)

It's funny I was just talking about Girl of the Limberlost like three times this week! I read it in fourth grade and did. not. like it. I should probably give it another chance.

amyrose said...

Seriously - when my mom got me that book and I read it, I thought it was really boring, but when I read it as an adult I could not believe how much I loved it! It's one of my top favorites... I may just go read it tonight, in fact.

The Wibbler said...

I seriously remember it being 8 million pages long. And red. The cover was red.