I know most people in their life time have read or at least heard of Jane Austen and her novels. Or you could be one of those people who are familiar with her due to the enormous amount of TV and movie adaptations of her novels; which the majority of them are actually very good so I don’t blame you. I have decided I am going to focus on her novels and on her as a writer than those lovely adaptations. I first read Jane Austen when I was in high school and was introduced to her by my mother. My mother told me that reading Jane Austen was like experiencing something warm and comforting; she also loved the Pride and Prejudice BBC/A&E adaptation but really who doesn’t. Ever since then I have become well… obsessed by Ms. Austen and her novels. I have read them all and more than once that is for sure. Why? I know what you are thinking, why would you read a novel so many times when you know the ending?
It wasn’t just the story that drew me in, but it was more of Jane’s wit and charm that comes out through the story. Her characters bring on a new life of their own and they face normal difficulties that we would face even in today’s world. Of course society has changed a bit since the early 1800’s, but there are still the underlining themes of love, loss, marriage, money, friendships and family. I think one of the main reasons that I love her characters so much is that she empowers and embodies the femininity of the world. All her main female characters are intelligent, witty, charming, accomplished, and have an obstacle they must overcome to grow as an individual. Many of her female characters could have been considered in those days as to not having proper circumstances to make a proper match for themselves. For example, Anne Elliot from Persuasion, is considered to be too old to marry and many men would look at her as a spinster that gave up on the possibility of marriage. In Sense and Sensibility, the ladies of the Dashwood family must overcome the struggles on having little money to their names as well as the lack of connections to bring to a marriage, even though they are all accomplished women. Also, all her main female characters all marry for love and end up as happy as they ever could be, which was rare even for her time. Most women married because it was expected and the match was more based on connivance of both parties then on love. She is able to give women strength in a time when women did not have any power but were totally reliant on the male population. It is a well-known fact that Jane never married, but that didn’t stop her from writing about love and how it can bring the unlikeliest of people together. Jane has bought us some of the greatest works in the English language along with some characters that have become iconic to the world of literature. In her very short life, she only lived to be 41, she wrote 6 wonderful novels that touch the lives of women and men all over the world. The novels are Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, and Mansfield Park. Everyone has their favorite novel and their favorite characters.
My favorites of the bunch are Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion. Each story has its own ideal views that we should follow; P&P deals more with first impressions and not judging others too quickly when we first meet them. Persuasion deals more with the topic of second chances, and overcoming the fear and judgment to allow that second chance to happen. Both novels have their heroines, Elizabeth Bennet and Anne Elliot, who must come face to face with problems of family, their pasts, and love to come out better in the end. Each of the ladies has their own family issues, that even though they have a fondness for them, they may wish not to be part of theirs. We can all identify with the idea of not being part of our family at one point or another, but Jane always talks about the importance of family no matter how silly they may be. We also must add the importance of the leading men in both of these tales; Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and Captain Frederick Wentworth. Most women say they have fancied both or at least one of the men at one point in their lives. Some women may even hold the men of today up to the standards of these two gentlemen, and really who could blame them they are pictured as the perfect gentlemen. Each of the stories ends happily allowing the heroines to have the life and the love they dreamed of.
Austen is an inspiration to many other writers and works. There are a large amount of novels that have branched out of her novels. There are romances, vampire stories, zombies, and even books about women meeting Mr. Darcy himself; the possibilities are endless when to comes to finding stories out of the great works of Jane Austen. There are sequels from her other novels as well as books based on her teachings that are the underlining morals of her books. For example, Jane Austen’s Guide to Dating by Lauren Henderson allows the reader to get dating advice from the lady herself. This book is very funny and puts some insight to how JA would approach the dating world of the 21st century. Lauren Henderson gives examples from each of JA’s words to bring a great argument to how women and men should behave when it comes to courting. I am glad to think that when it comes to courting not much has changed from JA’s world from our own, the basics still apply to both societies . There are many other novels like this one that have come out allowing the newer generations to reflect back on our ancestors.
Now all those adaptations; there are so many JA adaptations from TV, movies, one-off movies based on Jane Austen herself and on her work. Most people are acquainted with one of the Pride and Prejudice adaptations that have been on our television screens; the 1995 P&P by BBC/A&E with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy or the 2005 versions with Matthew Macfadyen as Mr. Darcy. The reason I only mention the men is because most people know which P&P they are talking about based strictly on who played Darcy. Who knew that one woman would make such an iconic man who all women have dreamt about one time or another. There are others like Lost in Austen and Becoming Jane; one is based on a women being sucked into a Jane Austen novel and must deal with the characters, and the other is based on of Jane Austen’s life, from a fictional view of course. There are many, many others but these 4 are the ones I am very fond of. I did also like the ITV adaptation of Persuasion with Rupert Penry-Jones as Captain Wentworth, which is worth checking out as well!
Jane Austen may not have been very successful in her life time but she has become more popular than she could have possibly imagined. She has brought me comfort when I needed it and allowed me to become engulfed by a world of teas, balls, flirting and love that never gets boring with time. People are still fascinated by her work and her works will be read even past my own life time. I love her and her books; she gives women confidence to be themselves and makes choices for herself, not caring what her situation or circumstances may be. She embodies femininity, pose, grace and, above all, wit. So thank you Jane Austen for your gift to the world and thank you for being such an influence in my life.
In what way has Jane Austen made an impact in your life? What is your favorite work by her or your favorite characters?
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