I really like today’s writing prompt from WordPress:
“Tell us about a favorite character from film, theater, or literature, with whom you’d like to have a heart-to-heart. What would you talk about?”
Now, I could easily over-think this idea – and waste hours and hours debating who I would choose, not to mention what we would talk about. And then I’d never respond to the prompt!
So I’m not going to let myself do that. There are many characters from film, theater and literature whom I would LOVE to meet and talk to. MANY!
That being so, I’m just going to go with the very first one that popped into my mind when I read the prompt. And that would be: Mrs. Croft, from one of my favorite novels, Jane Austen’s Persuasion.
And this is why I thought of her:
“Mrs. Croft, though neither tall nor fat, had a squareness, uprightness, and vigor of form, which gave importance to her person…Her manners were open, easy, and decided, like one who had no distrust of herself, and no doubts of what to do, without any approach to coarseness, however, or any want of good humor.”
~Jane Austen, in Persuasion, Volume 1, Chapter VI.
In other words, Mrs. Croft knows who she is, knows what she’s about, is firmly in control of her own life, and is completely at ease in her own skin. And she’s a really nice, pleasant, interesting person to boot. Every time she appears on the scene, she exudes these qualities.
Anne Elliot, Persuasion‘s heroine, who makes the above observation of Mrs. Croft, is an intelligent and discerning person, and secure in her own sense of self. But she lacks Mrs. Croft’s innate confidence. She (Anne) trusts herself and acts accordingly (having learned years ago what can happen when you allow someone “wiser” to influence you in a direction that opposes your own instincts.) She has that much self-confidence. But it’s not a steady and solid confidence, like Mrs. Croft’s. She’s not there yet.
Maybe it’s the fact that she’s confident enough to look hard at herself, to know herself, and to be true to herself, but yet not not confident enough to embrace herself fully and build a big, unique life for herself – but Anne tends toward resignation. She doesn’t stride forward and make moves to carve her own path. She just kind of treads water…endlessly.
At least, that’s where she’s at at the novel’s beginning. And yet, if chance hadn’t brought Captain Wentworth back into her life, it’s hard to believe she would have ever made any changes. She seems (at the start of the novel) to be pretty entrenched in life as-is – despite the fact that it’s an unsatisfying life in many ways.
You have the sense in Persuasion that Mrs. Croft would never just sigh and be resigned when it came to carving out a life for herself; she has too strong a sense of her own capabilities (and, you can extrapolate, of what she’s worth and what she deserves.) She would, you sense, work hard and even fight to make things happen for herself.
Anne, for one, clearly admires this in her. I do, too!
I’m definitely not a personality that can force myself into a state of wistful resignation, like Anne Elliot. I just have too much energy, I guess. It has to go somewhere! I’m always working problems in my head, getting game plans together, even if I can’t actually put them into action at that exact moment. (Which is why, I suppose, I tend toward anxiety when things don’t look good, rather than melancholy, like Anne. All that energy I have doesn’t like being bottled up or corked! It turns into nervous energy when it’s thwarted…and then into anxiety.)
So, I’m more of a “grab life by the horns” kind of person than Anne is. But, I have to say, I don’t think I’m any closer than she is to Mrs. Croft’s solid confidence. I’m not even sure I have Anne’s steady sense of self, if I’m going to be honest. I second-guess myself and doubt myself more often than I’d like.
I’d like to sit down with Mrs. Croft and just listen to her talk about her life and her choices – get a sense as to how she got to this place of such deep self-confidence. It’s not an arrogant thing, her confidence. It’s not condescending, not “better-than-anyone.” She’s not competing with anyone. It’s not about other people at all. It’s about her relationship with herself. And I think that’s why it’s so deep and steady and solid.
There’s a mindfulness to it, I guess – an intrinsic understanding of how she moves through her moments and why this is so. She’s centered, and she absorbs her life from that place. She doesn’t live sliding around at the surface of things; she’s rooted into herself – and so other people can’t easily shake her.
I admire that quality so much! I aspire to that.
I’d like to hear her describe her mistakes (because everybody has some) – and especially how she picked herself up after making them and moved forward. I’d like to hear her tell what she’s learned along the way, and how she came to that knowledge.
I’d like to ask her some questions, and listen to her take on the various things I’m doing and thinking and struggling with. I’d like her opinion…maybe her advice in some areas.
I guess I’d just really like to pick the brain of somebody who seems to have her life so very much together. Because I don’t yet.
I’d most definitely put her into that group of mentor-type people I was talking about before, that’s for sure. (If she were real, that is!!) I’d love to have somebody like Mrs. Croft as a mentor.
So…yeah. Persuasion‘s Mrs. Croft. I’d like to meet and talk with her – about all kinds of things. That would be interesting!