“…A very good man, and very much the gentleman I am sure: but I should think, Miss Elliot,” (looking with serious reflection), “I should think he must be rather a dressy man for his time of life. Such a number of looking-glasses! oh Lord! there was no getting away from one’s self….” ~ Admiral Croft, Persuasion by Jane Austen
Sir Walter Elliot is obsessed with looks. If you have good looks, he honors you as a good person worthy of his company—so long as your title is not too below his own. If you have bad or plain looks, he digrades you to poor and wretched and not worth more than a glance—unless you have title superiour to his, in which he will condescend to
disgrace you with his company.
Does this character remind you of someone?
The whole time I’ve been reading Pesuasion, I can’t help to think of Sir Walter Elliot as none other than Gilderoy Lockhart. Though Gilderoy would talk to anyone about himself, he sought the approval of those with fame and fortune but only to add to his own. His character was only improved by the wiping of his mind. I am near the end of Persuasion, but, unless Jane Austen had the forsight to transport via Time-Turner, Ron, Harry, and Hermione into her story, I doubt Sir Elliot will have the same sort of luck.
Excessive vanity seems to be attaching itself to our society. I’ve heard the term “generation me” attributed, I think, to my generation, or the one after. We are all about the selfie. About taking photos of ourselves—usually several times until we get the right shot—and then posting them to SM for everyone to like. Then we check back every few minutes to see how many people think we are as handsome or beautiful or funny as we think we are.
Like Sir Walter Elliot, we value youthful looks as marks of worthiness of praise. But heaven forbid you allow yourself to age, you are swept off the big screen and expected to hide yourself away. That is, unless you bow down to the nip-and-tuck industry’s standards of “beauty.”
How many of us ruin our character, who we are on the inside, to become what society says we must be on the outside? We so neglect our spirit and soul that we are an empty shell with decent if not beautiful wrapping?
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. — 1 Samuel 16:7 (NLT)
If we learn nothing else from Harry Potter or from Jane Austen’s works, I hope it is this—the inside is more important than the outside.
Why not, instead of spending an hour primping and prepping our outsides for the day, we spend more time prepping our insides for the day?
Instead of taking a selfie of your outside, tell me what you find beautiful about your inside.