Nobody likes being stuck at home with nothing to do. As I started to get used to social distancing, I wanted to figure out how to best spend my time at home.
A realization hit me while watching Emma: Jane Austen heroines are masters at being home with nothing to do. So, using the wisdom of women who came before me I devised a way to spend the week watching movies and learning new, fun hobbies to go along with them.
Movie: Emma (1996)
Quote: “Ah, there is nothing like staying home for real comfort.”
Activity: Watercolor painting. In Jane Austen’s time, women were taught to draw and paint from a young age. Painters loved to capture people, nature and everyday life on their canvases. You can paint your best friend like Emma did, or take inspiration from some of the Regency Era’s most-popular artists. If you’re just getting started with watercolor yourself, here’s an in-depth tutorial.
Movie: Persuasion (1995)
Quote: “You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope.”
Activity: Writing letters. If a Jane Austen heroine wanted to contact somebody without leaving her house, her only option was to write a letter. Not every letter can be as romantically eloquent as Captain Wentworth’s letter at the end of Persuasion, but it can still make your friend’s day (see this article for more on that). Once you’re done, fold it the Jane Austen way, add a pretty seal and send it to your unexpecting recipient.
Movie: Sense & Sensibility (1995)
Quote: “But remember that the pain of parting from friends will be felt by everybody at times, whatever be their education or state. Know your own happiness. You want nothing but patience; or give it a more fascinating name: call it hope.”
Activity: Music. Just like Marianne Dashwood, most young women in the Regency Era learned how to play the piano (or pianoforte, as it was called at the time). If you have a piano or keyboard, try playing some Austen-themed songs for yourself. Or, for the less-musical, check out this Spotify playlist of music from various Jane Austen movies.
Movie: Northanger Abbey (2007)
Quote: “Friendship is certainly the finest balm for the pangs of disappointed love.”
Activity: Embroidery. Jane Austen adored embroidery, and you can even see some of her work in museums today. However, I couldn’t find many references to it in Jane Austen’s books, save one scene in Northanger Abbey when Henry Tilney says to Catherine: “I had entered on my studies at Oxford, while you were a good little girl working your sampler at home!” As Tilney states, embroidery — especially cross stitch — is a hobby so simple that even children can pick it up. Plus, it’s one of the cheapest hobbies, with most threads costing under a dollar. Here’s a fun tutorial to help you pick up this lost art. And if you’re looking for text to embroider, the quote above is one of my favorites.
Movie: Pride & Prejudice (2005)
Quote: “The distance is nothing when one has a motive.”
Activity: Tea party. Perhaps the most stereotypically English thing you can do is drink tea. It’s the perfect setting to relax, gossip and deliver the sick burns of Pride and Prejudice. If you’re stuck at home or school, try Skyping your friends or having a Netflix Party so you can enjoy each others’ company from a distance. To make things more authentic, have everyone try the same teas together, or look into some Jane Austen brand tea.
After my Jane Austen week, I want to know what other themes to explore for the next coming weeks. Let us know if you have any ideas on Instagram @hercampusucf and stay safe out there!