The fandom life is one of feelings and heated debates over motives and the future of fictional characters that you’ve found yourself emotionally involved with. Which to a person who doesn’t “feel the feels” seems completely mental. I mean Bucky Barnes is not real! and why are you crying over Rue, she’s a fictional girl in a book? and what was that inhuman squeal I just heard?
But why are we so connected up with characters we read or see on screen? what makes us just latch on and want to hug that character with all our hearts?
Here’s my notion on the emotions over fictional characters. It’s because they’ve let us get to know them. Obviously they didn’t consent, the writers wrote them, they haven’t sat down to coffee with us though we’ve sat down to coffee with them as we read Lord of the Rings in our local coffee hangout. But the character’s souls have been bared to us in a way few of our living breathing fellow human beings in actual reality would ever let us get to know them.
Our society is one of shallow friendships and fleeting relationships and here are these people, made real to us by our sight and imagination, and they’re vulnerable enough to allow us to empathize with their woes. The people we actually know won’t let us get to know them so we go and fill the void with fictitious personages to ease that need to be trusted by others.
If people spent more time and weren’t so defensive and allowed others to get to know them and visa versa then maybe, for all it’s glory, the fandom life would not be so vital to us. But with people always holding us at arms length those of us who feel keenly the need to let in on what makes others tick find our solace in the pages of books and the films of the fandom variety.
There’s a sad want for true connection between living breathing human beings and so the fandom lifestyle has grown in accordance. It would be nice, as much as I love the fandom life, to see it’s prominence diminish in favor of actual people letting each other in and bearing each other’s burdens like the fangirls are burdened with our glorious feels!
Jane Austen’s titular character in her novel Emma is an enigma in the sense that hardly anyone fully likes her, she doesn’t have hoards of devotees like Lizzie Bennet (I am one of these girls, Elizabeth is my homegirl!) nor is she disliked as Fanny tends to be. She is the character most people will admit to a love-hate relationship with. She’s arrogant and dissuades poor Harriet from her sweet farmer romance, but on the other hand her dearest friend is her governess, not exactly her social equal. Her rural setting gives her a limited range of acquaintances and so she makes the best of what she has. She’s thoughtless but not cruel. She’s possibly the most human of all of Jane’s characters. She has all the fault’s of Darcy but with the well-meaning and social nature of Catherine Morland. She goes about to do well and makes a mess of everything, but she’s selfish in many ways. We’re happy that she gets her man in the end, but annoyed that she doesn’t realize what a gem Knightley is until she’s in danger of losing him to her socially inferior friend.
The entire novel of ‘Emma’ is for Jane Austen what Hamlet is for Shakespeare. It’s her crowning work, not necessarily everyone’s favorite but everyone admires it’s quality. In a sense Jane explores many of the same themes Shakespeare does just on a much less imposing and dramatic scale. Hers is not the battles for countries and the intrigues of court but the battle of the sexes and the intrigues of courtship. The mistaken deaths leading to tragedy is not her place, but the mistaken impressions leading to comedy is. Benedict and Beatrice are very much the kinds of characters you could meet in Austen’s world. The arrogant bachelor who falls in love in spite of himself and the sassy spitfire who finds out how mistaken she’s been about herself and others. Jane is the domestic to Shakespeare’s epic, which is why, her works like his, never go out of style. They’re timeless because whether it’s Lizzie and Darcy or Emma and Knightley, Beatrice and Benedict or Portia and Bassanio, they never stop entertaining us with their display of human nature in all it’s irony and hilarity, and we’ve all made mistakes when judging the character of others or been outwitted and had to laugh at ourselves. Because that’s what true and good comedy does, it makes us laugh at ourselves.
And Emma is probably the best of Jane’s novels for that, we laugh at the little dramas of Highbury and Emma’s pride and it’s fall, because we’ve done the same.