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Monday, October 20, 2008

Oh Brother!

The Bennett sisters might have had it very different if they'd had a brother.

Aside from the fact that there would be no entailment or money issues per se, that is.

Actually, the Bakshis from Bride and Prejudice might be a more relevant case-in-point here than the original Bennets. Either way, George Wickham would have had to face an enraged brother who dealt him a swift punch rather than the classy Mr.Darcy who bought his consent. Or in the Indian case, an enraged brother and a horde of his friends who would leave no stone unturned in hunting the vile Wickham down and serving him his just desserts. But that's still not the point.

The point is, Elizabeth Bennet would have been a very different person had she had a brother. As would her sisters. A brother would have tried the patience of even a saintly creature like Jane for starters and she wouldn't have been quite the same shy thing she was. But when childhood had passed and pulling pig-tails and upsetting buckets of water over each other had faded into memory, and in the place of children would be adults dealing with their own issues... things would have changed way beyond their ken.

A brother would have influenced Lizzy choice of partner more and perhaps even equipped her with the requisite skill to deal with a personality like Mr. Darcy in a more adept manner. Which would be well. Except that, putting aside the brother's opinion of the suitor(s), brother and sister would have been sure to wonder at some point 'Where did it go? When? What did we lose and why does this feel uncomfortable now?'

I've noticed this in my immediate circle at least. Brothers tend to get a bit weird over time. They will praise their female siblings (or close cousins) to the highest skies, especially in front of girlfriends (thereby creating impossible expectations to be met and fostering just the slightest resentment between the parites which, depending on their personality and compatibility, said female parties will then try to bridge, or not)... but when that is done, they forget that they might like something about the same sister. More often, the case is that the brother in question is going to be stuck on some point of disagreement and instead of accepting that the sister is an individual and is therefore allowed her opinions, thoughts, feelings, way of doing things — entitled to these things — choose to fester in resentment over the fact that the sister isn't as they thought or expected her to be.

"She isn't social enough"

"She isn't traditional enough"

And more such complaints. In a sense, they do show concern... concern that the sister might be jeopardising her chances in life somehow by not adhering to these things. But that view still doesn't do justice for wholly ignoring the desires of the female in question. What if she likes being reclusive... maybe she's happier this way. Do you not then, want her to be happy? Would you honestly rather she makes an extra effort to be social or traditional or whatever, all the while grimacing and wincing inside that somehow she had been let down by someone she thought she could trust and be her self around. Someone who is family.

Scout Finch got yelled at by Jem for not acting like a girl enough. And yet, she became a lady — without even him knowing it.


  1. i have thought about it myself too! :)

  2. after spending the entire day out with u-know-who i am incapable of any remotely smart comment.
    but let me tell you - there are days when i do wonder what it'd be like if i'd had a sister instead of a brother. what i think of it, i can't seem to remember now.

    will come back next week, when i revert to being my own self.

  3. pride and prejudice is the shittiest book ever to be made a classic. Perfect remedy for sleeping disorders..

    btw your immediate circle is anything but english.. how can you compare pride and prejudice with something as non-english as that!!

  4. Oh man, you're not kidding. Although the only time I ever asked my brother to take care of business for me, I was in kindergarten and then he looked puzzled coz between the two of us, I'm about ten times more militant. But then he very obligingly growled at the mean first grader and all was well. But yes - tres annoying and tres sweet, altogether.

    Like Rayshma, I too wonder at times how I'd have turned out if I's had a sister. Of course, he wanted a brother. I guess we're stuck with each other. Lolz.

  5. Galadriel: Someone understands me!!

    Rayshma: You are herewith banned from referring to work after work hours are past. And I've wanted a sister too always... would have been maha useful when dealing with... you know :D

    Winger: The book wasn't made into a classic, it became one by dint of popularity. To each their own opinion of it.

    And you missed the point I was making in the post. This isn't about Brits or my circle.

    Amrita: hehe! how cute!! I have too many brothers... love 'em to death, but definitely would want a sister. Sigh