If you're a Sex and the City fan like me, then you'll know there's always one important question: Are you a Carrie, a Miranda, a Samantha, or a Charlotte? Of course, I feel like everyone usually wants to be a Carrie (even though her life is kind of always in shambles--but hey, she had fabulous taste in shoes, so who am I to judge?), but I think deep down I'm really more of a Charlotte. If you have yet to discover your own Sex and the City alter-go, here's a super scientific quiz to settle the dispute once and for all. (It's Buzzfeed, if that sways you in one direction or the other.)
So naturally, when it comes to Pride & Prejudice, I've always wanted to be an Elizabeth. And thankfully, this other ever-so-scientific test confirmed my hopes and dreams--I got Elizabeth Bennet! (The test is super easy to manipulate in your favor, I'm just saying.) But even if maybe I am a bit of an Elizabeth now, a woman who improves herself through extensive reading and isn't afraid of what other people think, the kind of lady who speaks her mind and shuns rude, brooding, attractive men, I really grew up as more of a Mary Bennet.
Mary is the one Bennet sister I feel I have neglected to discuss (other than Kitty), and I intend to rectify that situation. In terms of likability, Mary may just be on par with Mr. Collins, but maybe that's only because she's the Bennet sister he should've actually tried to marry. Think of how different everything could've turned out if he'd just gone with not the correctly aged sister, but the one whose mannerisms and activities meshed well with his own lifestyle. After all, when Jane recovered and the sisters returned home to Longbourn, they found Mary "as usual, deep in the study of thorough bass and human nature; and had...some new observations of threadbare morality" to share. Now does that sound like the wife of a clergyman or what?
But I digress.
Growing up, I focused much of my time and energy on not fitting in with the other kids. Sure. It bothered me when I didn't get invited to certain things or that I didn't have an expansive group of friends. But I didn't really want part in all the drama--much like Mary Bennet when she looked at how her sisters Kitty and Lydia behaved around the militia. I actually think Mary and I have a lot more in common than I ever realized.
In late middle school and all of high school, it seemed as though a girl's purpose was to either be fawning over a boy who didn't know she existed; to be in contact (most likely texting) with a boy who would reply with a "haha" every few hours; or be dating a guy who she saw maybe once on the weekends and in between class periods. I honestly had very little interest in dating at that age. And Elizabeth, though she did exclaim "What are men to rocks and mountains?", spent an awful lot of time herself fawning over Wickham and then ended the novel happily ever after with Mr. Darcy. Men, hard as Elizabeth tried, played a big part in her life. Mary was the one who disconnected herself from the drama of Regency Britain, and for that, I think we can all take a lesson away from her.
Mary can't teach us much about falling in love, but she can teach us a valuable lesson in living a drama-free life. I think some of you, myself included, have unknowingly been taking lessons from Mary in this particular area for a long time without even realizing it--I'm talking to all you book nerds out there. And it's not just that we don't want to behave like Kitty and Lydia, either, two silly sisters with little sense--almost the exact opposite of Mary, who has arguably too much sense for her own good. Surprise, surprise: Jane and Lizzy are the neat balance between the Lydia and Mary Bennets of the world.
I'm not entirely sure why I take it upon myself to defend rather unlikable characters, but here I am again, trying to prove Mary Bennet worthy of perhaps being more than the boring Bennet sister. Mary may not be everything I want to be, but Mary, much like Charlotte Lucas, sustains amiable qualities that we could find, dare I say, admirable? She's quite sensible (even to her own detriment in society), obviously very intelligent from all the reclusive book-reading she does, and I bet she's a fine listener, though probably too quick to share her decided and surely unwarranted opinion. But I mean, she didn't elope with a disgraceful, indebted officer, so that's something.