Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Mr. Collins and the "Friend Zone"

"How do you feel about 'Friends with Benefits?'"
When I blogged earlier this year about Ron Rosenbaum's article in Slate asking whether Jane Austen was overrated, I used Mr. Collins' proposal to Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice as an example of what really makes Austen great, and to try to push back against the idea that her books aren't serious.

Lo and behold, that very scene cropped up in Slate today, in a discussion about "the friend zone":

All this demonstrates what Jane Austen was trying to tell us 200 years ago: Sometimes it doesn't pay to let a guy down easy. Many a woman has uttered the phrase "Let's just be friends" on the theory that something a little more direct would result in an angry reaction. But really, even if your suitor goes so far as to cough up a word that starts with a b or even a c, is that really worse than having him go on Tumblr and write self-pitying posts about how the woman who belongs to him refuses to accept her fate? If you suspect that you're dealing with a guy who is comfortable with the term friend zone, then there's no reason not to be blunt in your rejection, preferably by saying, "I could never be with a man whose beard smells like Cheeto dust."

The highlighted link goes to Mr. Collins' proposal.  I'll spare you my very complex thoughts on "the friend zone" (which boil down to: certainly it's appropriately used SOME of the time) and just say that I'm pretty amused by the image of Mr. Collins galloping back to Lady Catherine and explaining that Elizabeth had "put him in the friend zone."

And now that I think about, didn't Jane Austen write a book that was precisely about a guy who manages to escape "the friend zone?"

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