Let us pause here and reflect on one example of this kind of casualty. Felicity is a good case in point – a loss to the language of emotional life whose disappearance deprives us of a particular dimension of happiness. Felicity is a kind of happiness our culture does not, on the whole, promote: something like rational contentment, entailing acceptance, considered compromise, and self-knowledge. When Elizabeth Bennett, Jane Austen’s intelligent and critical-minded heroine, listens to her sister’s suitor pouring out his hopes for his own and his beloved’s happiness, the author writes of her, she had to listen to all he had to say, of his own happiness, and of Jane’s perfections; and in spite of his being a lover, Elizabeth really believed all his expectations of felicity to be rationally founded, because they had for basis the excellent understanding, and superexcellent disposition, of Jane, and a general similarity of feeling and taste between her and himself.
This kind of considered happiness, pursued with a clear eye toward economic stability, compatible temperament, and self-control, contrasts sharply with the kind of happiness marketed in movies that focus on falling in love against all odds, throwing caution to the winds, following the passions, and losing oneself in a rush of sensation. Felicity has more to do with finding oneself.
From “Caring for Words In A Culture of Lies” by Marilyn McEntyre – Eerdmans Publishing