It's Mother's Day here in the States and as a celebration, literary style--well mostly literary style, I thought I would share with you my favorite on screen mothers.
When I started to think about the blog post, I wondered what indeed I would do. Jane Austen's mothers are mostly foolish or mean, and Bronte's mothers are either non-existent or half mad. Mrs. Dashwood, however, was an easy and foundational choice for me. Fearless and proud, she endures the loss of her husband, house, and lifestyle to undeserved and ruthless relatives, and moves her family away from everything they know for a better chance at happiness within their constraints. While Elinor is her voice of reason, it takes a powerful woman to allow her daughter that kind of control and still be the adult head of the family. She is loving, she is kind, and--above all--she reminds her daughters to enjoy life as it comes, without grasping, scheming, or loathing.
Dear reader, you may not like old battle axe Thornton for Margaret's sake, but if you think about it, Mrs. Thornton is a thoroughly stand-up and modern mother. After the suicide of her husband, she took her two young children and raised them with economy and strict focus; she managed John's money so well he was able to lease the mill, and she continues to run it with him on a day-to-day basis. Even though she hates Margaret, she promises to learn to like her when she realizes John is in love with her; and then when John can't hate Margaret even after she's rejected him, Mrs. Thornton vows to in his stead. As a mother, Mrs. Thorton is like a tiger: fierce on the outside, but loving and protective when no one is looking.
When thinking of my featured mothers, Mrs. Bennet was not first on my list. She wasn't even on my list. At a glance, Mrs. Bennet seems like one of the least qualified women to be a mother of five daughters. She's immature, frivolous, and simply wants to get all her girls married off to the first men she can find. And then I took a second look at Mrs. Bennet, because Jane Austen is far more introspective than that. Mrs. Bennet is able to be frivolous because she has (at least) two very level-headed daughters and seeing as how she's raised them well, why should she change her style for the other three? Her immaturity can be likened to the gossip addicts of today's society. And she wants to get her daughters married so that they will be provided for, knowing she has not saved for them on her own. Really, all the Mrs. Bennet is guilty of is a melodramatic disposition and social butterfly syndrome. She is a well meaning mother, who puts her family first, and for tha she's been added to my list.
Lady Crawley is one fierce women. She is unwavering in her modern ideas, while despising shifts in modern society. Above all, she is willing to do anything to protect her granddaughter's inheritance. She holds that quiet type of motherhood: the type where her children think she expects everything of them, when really she simply wants to see them do well and be happy. Lady Crawley is continually surprised by how people see her, and can't seem to understand why one must make way for impolite society in an entrenched history. I love Violet because she is the determined matriarch, the women you think of one way when really she's another, a class act all the way. Considering how wonderful her son is, I'd say she definately nears the top of my favorite mothers list.
While all these characters are wonderful examples of literary mothers, I want to finish this blog post by saying happy mother's day to all the truly wonderful mothers celebrating. You do not just deserve today, but every day to be mother's day. We never appreciate you as much as we should, and I wish this day was more like Christmas, then you may properly feel the love and awe we give to you.