“Know your own happiness.
You want nothing but patience-
or give it a more fascinating name,
call it hope.”
-from Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 19, by Jane Austen
Oh I have been looking forward to this post for quite some time. This day, today, was the day Jane Austen was born 242 years ago in Steventon, Hampshire, England.
She is one of the most famous, most beloved, and most intelligent writers in all of history.
Most people have heard of her, but maybe don’t really know exactly why she was such a sensation. Why her works are so important.
To be honest, I couldn’t formulate such reasons myself. So I endeavored to read up on her life and write up a few reasons why I think Jane Austen is awesome.
Enjoy, fellow Jane Austen fans!
25 Reasons Why Jane Austen Is Awesome
A. Her Life
1. She was a woman disappointed in love.
But she was also a woman who said no to at least one proposal of marriage. Because of lack of love, maybe. But also because it gave her the freedom to write.
2. But thwarted love didn’t derail her.
She could have let her disappointed romantic hope lead her into a life of bitterness and depression. Instead, I believe it motivated and inspired her work.
3. She possesed the loyalty of a most beloved sister.
She was best friend to her older sister Cassandra all her life. Her sister lost her fiance to yellow fever and, same as Jane, never married. They had an unshakable bond and I imagine we owe Jane Austen’s novels in part to the encouragement of her sister.
4. I suspect her relationships weren’t perfect.
I’m sure her mother must have scolded her at some point. A “Mrs. Bennet style” scolding. Had she married, could she have saved her mother and sister from (supposed) destitution? And yet, she still wrote.
5. Her life wasn’t always easy.
She was human. During the time she lived in Bath (1801-1806), she could write nothing.
6. She preferred walking.
She was fond of walking, especially throughout the countryside. I think that this was admirable in an age when physical fitness was not particularly encouraged.
“I walk: I prefer walking.”
-from Persuasion, Chapter 19, by Jane Austen
B. Her Writing Style
1. Her witty descriptions of people make me laugh.
They are so on point. And so ridiculous. But true. 200 years later and we still know silly people, meddling people, etc. Which is what makes them so funny.
2. The Palmers, of Sense and Sensibility.
Still hilarious, every time I read. Check out Hugh Laurie and Imelda Staunton in the 1995 version of Sense and Sensibility. Guarantee it will make you laugh.
3. A woman ahead of her time.
As most great artists/writers are. Her characters were not appreciated by her critics. I find that hard to believe…what’s not to like about Elizabeth Bennet?
4. Her heroines.
She produced strong, intelligent female characters. Elinor Dashwood. Elizabeth Bennet. Fanny Price (strong in her own way). Emma Woodhouse. Catherine Morland. Anne Elliot.
5. She urged love over comfort in a time when comfort, money, was highly prized.
6. Jane Austen wrote of true love over social duty.
Which we applaud today (mostly). Yet in her time people did not appreciate or understand this way of thinking.
7. She wrote what she knew.
She wrote about women. Their thoughts, desires, struggles, conversations, joys and amusements. From this, we get a brilliant picture of the life of a woman in the 18th and early 19th century.
8. Austen fine-tuned her craft.
Like all great writers, she grew and developed. She took what talent she had and built upon it.
9. Her books are relatable.
She infused real-life family issues into her books. This is another big reason why her books are so loved. Ever been ignored and underappreciated like Anne Elliot? Trampled on, like Fanny Price? Been a rock for your family and hid your own struggles like Elinor Dashwood?
10. A unique style.
What set her apart as a writer was not what she wrote about but how she wrote it. It was her style that made her unique. So many people wrote about the same things she did. Yet she stood out. Why? One reason is that she was more concerned with the psychology of her characters, how they thought, than in describing how they looked.
C. Her Works
1. She had 4 books published in 4 years.
It took her 13+ years to reach this level, but once she started, she never stopped until illness forced her to.
2. Sense and Sensibility. (1811)
Two sisters. One ruled by her heart, the other ruled by her mind. Their lack of fortune becomes an element closely tied to the futures with the men they love.
3. Pride and Prejudice. (1813)
Four sisters. Headstrong Lizzy (Elizabeth, the main character) and sweet Jane (the eldest) find love where it is unexpected. Their sisters have their shares of adventures as well. A very happy and balanced story.
4. Mansfield Park. (1814)
This is the story of Fanny, a shy and poor girl who in a sense is adopted by wealthy relatives. She is timid, but in other ways brave. In my eyes, this is Austen’s most complex novel.
5. Emma. (1815)
Emma is the one novel I have not read through completely. I couldn’t like the main character, which is something Jane herself expected from her readers. Emma is somewhat strong-willed and delights in matchmaking…even though she makes a mess of it.
6. Northanger Abbey. (1817)
A satire on the Gothic novel. A story about a girl named Catherine, as she is grows up and finds her true purpose in life.
7. Persuasion. (1817)
Anne’s story of how others can persuade a person which path to take in life and of second chances with past love.
8. Her books have been translated into 35 languages.
9. She was proud of her novels.
Particularly Pride and Prejudice, which she referred to as “my own darling Child”.
Thanks for tuning in to my long Austen-themed post! 😃😃😃
What do you love most about Jane Austen? Which of her works are your favorite, or least favorite?
Jane Austen: An Influental Woman
Why Is Jane Austen Trending 200 Years After Her Death?