The mood was calm yet determined as dawn rose above the ten-day-old tent city calling itself Occupy Haworth. In the shadow of the very center of Bronte power, crowds of people gathered to express their disillusionment and have their voices heard.
“I just think this one family has too much influence over storytelling, especially what it means to be romantic in Britain,” said a man who asked to be identified as a post-Ffordeian Bronte scholar. “I think it’s time we stood up for ourselves—not everybody’s a Romantic, you know. Some of us form healthy attachments borne of love and respect, and it’s like they just steamroll right over us on the way to the Moors!”
A young lady who wished to remain anonymous, presumably to avoid repercussions from the family’s many connections, added, “Just because they had three kids who could write a little, they trade on their name. It’s not fair to the rest of us.”
Scores of protesters milled about, shaking their signs in the direction of the gift shop and repeating, via the human megaphone system adopted by the Occupy movement at large, first lines from novels, such as “Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul,” and “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” Banners ranged from “Let Helen live!” to “St. John is a douchebag.”
A number of Haworth employees and pro-Bronte activists made a point of engaging with the protesters from a safe shouting distance. “Get a library card!” They shouted. Protesters appeared unruffled, though tempers began to wear thin when the passers-by added, “Plus, you really ought to try Villette again—it’s quite good!”
It’s unclear how long the Occupy Haworth protest can continue without declaring any particular ideals or naming any specific demands. But one thing is clear: the power of the Brontes doesn’t translate just outside the gates of Haworth. “I just don’t think Mr. Rochester’s that hot,” said a young lady carrying a sign bearing the popular slogan Name Mrs. DeWinter. “And I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that. I guess I am the ninety-nine percent.”
Today we lucky ladies at Austenacious have the golden opportunity to bring you an exclusive interview actor/writer/producer/personal heroine Emma Thompson, whose Oscar-winning screenplay for Sense and Sensibility and general sense of brilliance has made her an icon for smart girls everywhere. We sat down at Austenacious Studios for a brief chat:
Emma Thompson: Hello! I’m Emma Thompson.
ET: Hello? I’m Emma Thomp—Hey! What are you doing on the floor?
ET: Are you trying to kiss my feet?
ET: Yes, you are. Stop that.
A: They smell like roses after the rain.
ET: Get up.
A: Right. Let’s see. Ah, yes: In 1995, you wrote an Oscar-winning screenplay of Sense and Sensibility, as well as portraying the sensible Elinor Dashwood in the film. Can you tell us about your relationship with that character?
ET: Oh, yes, well, I’d always felt that as a woman who processes things quite intellectually, that Elinor is still quite capable of having an emotional life, and so—
A: —of course. You bawled your eyes out. It makes so much sense.
ET: Yes, and—
A: —was it you-know-who?
ET: Excuse me?
A: You-know-who. He Who Shall Not Be Named.
ET: I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re talking about.
A: Your ex? Does all the Shakespeare? To work out his pain over losing you?
ET: Ah, Kenneth.
A: Sssh! Beware the Death Eaters!
ET: That’s Ralph Fiennes. You’ve got it all wrong.
A: No, that’s just a coincidence. We called him that before the movies! Honest! What we’re saying is that he’s stupid. Stupidity is the point.
ET: ….okay, though Voldemort is in fact not stupid. I—I thought we were here to talk about Austen?
ET: Jane Austen?
A: Oh. Right. Say, what made you decide to grow your hair out?
ET: [Sighs] Well, I got tired of the idea that a woman of a certain age should have short hair, and I thought I’d challenge the the social norms surrounding middle age and sexuality—
A: That is so brave.
ET: —and also I was starting to be indistinguishable from Hugh Grant, at first glance.
A: Well, yes. But wasn’t it all part of Operation: How Hughie Got His Groove Back?
ET: I’m not familiar with that particular operation.
A: We thought it was philanthropy on your part.
ET: Getting back to the subject, I was so proud to have worked with him on Sense and Sensibility. I’ve always loved Edward Ferrars, and I thought Hugh brought such a believable sensitivity to the role.
A: Sure, whatever, but tell me: when you and Helen Mirren have sleepovers, do you dress up your Oscars?
ET: That is totally not your business.
A: We’re just saying: We would. Of course, neither of you have really braid-able hair, so that‘s out the window…
ET: I have to go now.
A: But wait! I haven’t given you my resume yet!
ET: Is that my bodyguard at the door?
A: We could do this every day!
ET: We really couldn’t.
A: Don’t you need a personal pencil sharpener? Award-polisher? Sycophant?
A: Wait! Someone told me the other day that I look just like Hugh Grant, too! I know you can’t resist a good cause!
Note: This interview is entirely a work of fiction, and is in no way meant to reflect on Ms. Thompson. In fact, it would probably be better for everybody if it also did not reflect quite so strongly on the staff of Austenacious.