A famous philosophical question has been asked for thousands of years. Without people, would life actually exist? It’s a very difficult question to answer, as a person’s perception of reality is the only thing that’s tangibly “real” to begin with. But even without your personal perception, life still goes on. Right? Ponderings aside, most people are happy enough to participate in the human experience, and many jot down their personal thoughts to chronicle this experience via a diary.
A diary is an incredibly personal way to tell about the human experience, whether you’re sharing it with others or keeping it to yourself. Diaries have been a part of the world since the written word first emerged, and even fictional diaries are popular, such as Bridget Jones’s Diary – a purely fictional character made famous through diary columns in The Independent.
How does one give a biographical account of a fictional character? Well, it’s simple; you start with the story behind the story. For Bridget Jones in particular, this character can be traced back to 1995 and an English writer named Helen Fielding. She started the Bridget Jones’s Diary column, detailing the life of a single thirty-something in London, and the story exploded across the globe.
Bridget Jones attended and graduated from Bangor University and is the stereotypical single female Londonite in her thirties (at least the way Helen envisions such a character).
It was initially meant to be a satirical stab at the obsession women showed in magazines like Cosmopolitan, but with its immense popularity, Helen wrote a novel (Bridget Jones’s Diary) in 1996, and then a sequel (Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason) in 1999. Of course, Hollywood jumped at the opportunity to turn these novels into movies of the same name, starring Renee Zellweger and Hugh Grant in 2001 and 2004 respectively.
Though these diary entries were said to be completely fictional, many women throughout London and the rest of the world could identify deeply with the Bridget character, and when it comes to the journal genre, Bridget Jones is its most famous fictional character.
What makes Bridget Jones’s Diary such a hit (still to this day) is that Helen Fielding managed to create such a real character. Jones’s diary habits were something that many diarists of the world know all too well. For example, Bridget would make a new diary entry every New Year’s Eve, detailing all the things she hoped to change about her life. This isn’t a work of fiction per se; it’s strictly art imitating life. Millions of people have this habit, and most of them, like Bridget, never manage to follow through.
Bridget is obsessed with self-help books; she smokes too much, drinks too much, and longs to live a socialite lifestyle. She has big problems with real love, and she is constantly attempting to change herself. Her diary is a safe outlet, wherein her hopes and dreams are laid out. But a good lesson to be learned from this character is that writing things down aren’t enough. You still have to push to change yourself. Of course, in the fictional arc, Bridget does find resolution.
For diary fans out there, you may or may not share a lot in common with Bridget. The important thing to note as it pertains to a diary is that chronicling your personal experiences can be exponentially more helpful than an entire library full of self-help books.