Friday, March 06, 2009

A Description of Miss Bates

Lost Boy and I are currently reading Jane Austen's Emma. As I read a description of Miss Bates (in Chapter 3) I realized that she has many characteristics that are worth emulating. Here is how Jane Austen describes Miss Bates:
"Her youth had passed without distinction and her middle of life was devote to the care of a failing mother, and the endeavor to make a small income go as far as possible. And yet she was a happy woman, and a woman whom no one named without good-will. It was her own universal good-will and contented temper which worked such wonders. She loved everybody, was interested in everybody's happiness, quick-sighted to everybody's merits; thought herself a most fortunate creature, and surrounded with blessings in such an excellent mother, and so many good neighbors and friends, and a home that wanted for nothing. The simplicity and cheerfulness of her nature, her contented and grateful spirit, were a recommendation to everybody, and a mine of felicity to herself. She was a great talker upon little matters, which exactly suited Mr. Woodhouse, full of trivial communications and harmless gossip."
The characteristics I see (which I would like to have more of) are charity and gratitude. You can see that she had charity because "she loved everybody," she was interested in the well-being of those around her, and because she proactively looked for people's merits. It is clearly stated that she had a "grateful spirit," but since she viewed herself as being "fortunate" and "surrounded with blessings" it is even more evident that this was a profound factor in her personality. Gratitude causes us to feel happiness, joyfulness, and appreciation. I think that a lot of other positive feelings about both ourselves and others spring from having gratitude. I was to be more like the (imaginary) Miss Bates. I need to be more grateful and cheerful.

I also think that to be "a great talker upon little matters" is a valuable skill. Small talk and chit chat are important to being social, especially when you are first becoming acquainted with someone new, but they are sometimes hard for me because I don't really think about interesting things to talk about.

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