By Gabrielle Lesage
Last time I wrote an article for this blog I focused on why we still read Jane Austen. Why do you think? Is it her writing style? Her wit and sense of humor? Is it because her texts separate us from our reality that is consumed by technology? Okay, maybe that last point was exaggerated. But in all seriousness, I am very interested in knowing what you guys think!
For this article, I want to focus on Austen's relevance. Is Austen still a relevant read? I promise this post will be unbiased; being an Austen enthusiast I may or may not be bias. In the end, I hope to convince you that Austen is not simply an old spinster with a PJ bonnet for a hat. I am here to bring up some points that support my argument in affirming why it is important to read Jane Austen's novels, even 200 years after her death.
1) She is modern: I know that there are many people who have already said that Austen is a woman ahead of her time. Although I agree with these statements, I would like to provide a different point of view. She was a young woman who had a passion for writing and did not let anyone push her around. When she had problems with publishing companies (i.e. young and old white dudes) when they tried to take advantage of her, she took matters into her own hands, and even bought back her manuscript! She knew what she wanted, and she went for it. That kind of action is admirable, and in times like these it is inspiring to see that we can win the battles we fight for.
2) We learn lessons: Alright, I'll admit, the courting rules and constricting social conventions are not what we see today, but we can still learn a great deal from Austen's texts. Be like Elizabeth and stand up to those that insult you. Be like Marianne and live passionately. Be like Anne and realize that our age does not define the rest of our lives. Be like Henry Tilney and have a chuckle or two at the serious things in life. In the end, Austen's novels show us the beautiful truths in our lives, but also the harsh realities we are sometimes faced with.
3) She is an important part of history: We cannot deny that Austen holds an important place in the history of English literature. Although there were woman writers way before her time period, Austen was revolutionary because she tackled serious issues, such as the difficult grip of economics and the choices we have (or lack of) with our own lives, and she did so with humor and wit. She did not shy away from any topic that she deemed crucial to discuss. She would not be silenced because she was fierce and daring.
In the end, I wanted to share with you some of the reasons why I love Jane Austen and her novels by exploring the idea that she is still an important read, even in the 21st century. I like the saying that the past affects our future, and I believe Miss Austen has left quite the mark.
Cheers to Austen!