This weekend happens to be the death date of one of my favorite authors, Jane Austen. Jane Austen was a staple in my house when I was growing up. While other children of my generation were reading about a certain boy wizard, I was reading the following:
- Jane Austen
- Louisa May Alcott
- L.M. Montgomery
- Laura Ingalls Wilder
- Charles Dickens
- J.R.R. Tolkien
- C.S. Lewis
Ms. Austen and I have a rather peculiar relationship because I do not remember the first time I even heard of her. She was just in my life and I never questioned it. As I got older, I watched more of the adaptations of her work.
Jane Austen impacted so many authors over the course of time. When she was alive, she was popular but her popularity really grew after her death. Her books, the 6 finished and the few unfinished, have been studied by scholars, and eventually I will be one of them when I enter graduate school. We can still learn from Ms. Austen today.
So, let me present to you all Four Lessons from Ms. Austen.
Leson 1: She knew how to write good gossips
All of Jane Austen’s novels discuss the characters and their every day life. Pride and Prejudice does this very well with Mrs. Bennet. She is so hell bent on getting all of her daughters married that she has all five of them out at the same time. She knows all the gossip and she just chatters away that poor Mr. Bennet most likely feels like he could be in an episode of The Office.
In Emma, we see this in Miss Bates. She knows everyone’s business and she does have a good heart. However, Emma finds her insufferable when in return others feel as if Emma always has her nose in the business of others.
The gossip in these books are fitting with the times because what else could women discuss? It was always about the town or marriage.
Lesson 2: The men are unmatched
Austen Men are in a league of no other. When my own mother was visiting me when I was studying in London, she got me a bumper sticket that said I ❤ Darcy. And I do. I love Darcy as much as I love Ferrars and Mr. Knightely. And I cannot forget Colonel Brandon or Wentworth. And then there is of course Edmund Bertram. But for me, it is Tilney who has my very heart and soul.
Northanger Abbey is my all time favorite Austen novel, which shocks people at first. But once you get to know me, you understand why I adore that book so much. Mr. Tilney is the absolute definition of a gentleman. He is the nicest of all of the Austen men. But most importantly, he understands muslin gowns.
For every love interest, we have the rival. From Wickham to Willoughby, these men are percieved by the public and even to the main character as wonderful men. But as the story unfoilds, you find out more about their character and you see that they are not fair or well. They can be down right evil, vile, despicable.
Alll Austen men are the blueprint for love interests and I will stay with that fact.
Lesson 3: You will find love
Each one of the Austen heroines find love in the end. Even if they feel like their prospects are bleak or have been lost, they find love. Take Persuasion. (Side note: the new Netflix adaptation comes out this week.) Anne Elliot and Wentworth were engaged prior to the start of the novel, but Anne broke it off. Then seven years later, their paths meet again and they cannot deny the fact that there could be something between them still. Anne is 27 so she is “older” than most for marrying.
Then we have Pride and Prejudice. This is by far the most popular of all of Austen’s novels. We have Elizabeth Bennet who is quick to judge those around her. Then we have Fitzwiliam Darcy who has certain proud airs about him. These are two people who should not under any circumstance end up together. And yet, they fall in love and they get married.
In Northanger Abbey, a satire on Gothic novels, Catherine Morland is so enamored by Gothic literature that she uses that to explain what is happening in her world. Yet, we have kind and wonderful Mr. Tilney there to guide her.
There is a sadness though with Ms. Austen. She never married. She had a few suitors in her time but ultimately she never married and cared for her family into the end. She never got the storybook ending that her characters received.
Lesson 4: You don’t need to publish many books
In her life time, only four of her novels were published. When she died, the last two were published. In total, we have six novels from Jane Austen. We also have two unfinished works, a few selections of miscellaneous works, and her juvenilla. As time went on, she grew in popularity and her books stood the test of time to the point that they are still studied today. Her books are still being adapted into movies, television series, and even web series.
Jane Austen will forever be one of my favorite authors. There is so much one can learn from reading her works and watching adaptations of them. I hope you all enjoyed these four lessons I have taken away from her.
What about you? Do you have a favorite Austen novel? Are you a Darcy Girl or are you like me, a Tilney Girl? Do you have a favorite adaptation? And most importantly, have you seen Austenland? Let me know down in the comments.
Briana Michelle Meyer currently lives and works in South Korea as an English teacher. She currently is trying to get her groove back with writing by trying to write out of her comfort zone. When she isn’t busy with work, she likes to watch TV, figure out the next step in life, and figure out why we enjoy certain actors and the characters they play way too much. You can find her here on Twitter.