If I Am ‘Becoming Jane’, Then Is He ‘Ironman’?

The word, juxtaposition, befuddles me. On the AP English test for college credit in high school, I was to explain the juxtaposition of two ideas in a literary work. I flubbed it. Ever since, using that word makes me self-conscious.

Ironically, I love it’s meaning, which is to place side-by-side, especially for comparison or contrast. In fact, most of my writing is juxtaposition because that is how I view life. Over the weekend I watched two movies—one night, Becoming Jane, and Ironman the next night. The contrast seems as clear as female and male. But when they are juxtaposed, the packaging fades and similarities stand out.

I often go into a Jane Austen movie adaptation expecting a lighthearted feminine romance. This is how they often appear to be marketed by the movie industry seeking women’s dollars. But that is never how these “chick flicks” play out. From under the flouncing gowns comes the crux of larger matters, deeper matters, which are the hallmark of Austen’s hand. Likewise, the movie that tells her history couldn’t be called just a romance in that way either.

Hers is a story of a woman developing her talent to write while developing as a woman. That struggle enhances her writing in the long run, even as poverty and situation complicate it. Influences encourage her to define womanhood as shallow, “Flirting is a woman’s trade, one must keep in practice” as one woman companion supposes. Or drudgery—from which her mother wants to save her. Or competitive, “If you wish to be the equal of a masculine writer, experience is vital. Your horizons must be widened. ” This challenge comes from her new acquaintance, Thomas LeFroy. Their ensuing relationship does widen her horizons, but her difficult and surprising choices along the way provide depth to her character and the fictional ones she will create.

A busy schedule kept my husband from seeing Ironman in a late-night screening with “the guys”, so we went for date night. The throngs of teenage boys surrounding us in the theater and the previews told me I was in the wrong demographic for this movie. True to expectation, loud music, big guns, and gratuitous sex reeled the men in.

After analyzing the chick flick, I thought I would get his thoughts on the guy movie. Here was his review: Thoroughly entertaining.

But I know my husband, and I know he lives a life beyond that stuff, so I knew there was more. Unlike Becoming Jane, in which the falsity must first be stripped off to reveal her true nature, Ironman clothes the man to build him up. Whichever process takes us to that end result finds us standing the same in the end.

Even though we may not admit it, we don’t mind whose movie choice brings us to that point. My husband wrote this to the newlywed couple to whom we gave a portable DVD player as a wedding gift: To the groom, Watch the chick flicks with her. To the bride, Let him pick a guy movie once in a while.

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