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Jane Austen is a memorable and revolutionary English novelist. She was born in Steventon, Hampshire in a cold winter night on 16 December 1775 and died on 18 July 1817. She was the second daughter and the seventh child to her parents. When she was eight years old Jane and her sister were sent to a boarding school to learn French, dancing and other forms of “education” that was suitable for young ladies at that time. However, once Jane was back home, she and her sister were able to use the large library which her father accumulated due to his position as a member of the church. Jane discovered her love for reading and writing ever since. It is believed that her family’s fondness for creative writing, improvising and homemade plays that nourished Jane’s talent and pushed her to be a serious writer. Austen’s work included but was not limited to six full novels such as Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), Emma (1815) which were published whilst Austen were alive and other novels such as Northanger Abbey (1818), Persuasion (1818) and Lady Susan (1871) which were published posthumous.
Jane Austen unfortunately did not live to witness her own fame, as she did not reveal her identity when she published her first book but even after coming out as a writer, she was still not that famous. In fact, Jane Austen became popular years after she died. Jane Austen’s modern popularity stems from the multiple Television and movie adaptations of her books. The genuine characters she introduced and their stories, became nationwide beloved and transcended throughout the decades. What distinguished Austen’s work from other authors is her ability to be relatable, starting from the characters she introduces in her books to the social situation these characters must go through. Her charismatic approach to the issues that women suffered from in the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century made her work timeless. Characters such as Elinor Dashwood or Elizabeth Bennet, remain an inspiration for modern women who can still identify themselves with these strong female personas. As such, Austen emerged as a feminist voice in a society that disregarded women and limited their role to be mainly for marriage. Jane was not particularly against the idea of marriage; however, she was the first to introduce in her work, that women have the option to marry for love and are encouraged to do so and not for the social burden women must endure. Such in the case of Lizzy in Pride and Prejudice (1813) where she and her sisters were encouraged to find a suitable husband to save the family from a social downturn. Nonetheless, Elizabeth declined the marriage proposal of her cousin and the inherit of her father’s property due to lack of love between her and the cousin. At first, one would think that Elizabeth is selfish in her act and she should have saved the family’s future by marrying a man she did not love, but as the story unfolds, one can see how Elizabeth’s final choice of marrying Mr. Darcy, the man who she truly loved, have been even more beneficial to her and her family. As such, Austen gave women the option they never had before; marrying the one you love. Furthermore, Jane’s ladies were always portrayed to be very well educated and read. So, giving her female characters a strong voice is what made Jane Austen the influential writer she is.
Austen’s writing style is found to be cynic, witty, sometimes humorous, often insightful and most importantly realistic. Which differentiate her from other authors of her time, both men and women. It could be argued that she was even the leading author to use such style in describing the female mundane day to day life in the society without it coming off as unintelligent or silly. As Lord David Cecil commented “The visible structure of Jane Austen’s stories may be flimsy enough, but their foundations drive deep down into the basic principles of human conduct. On her bit of ivory, she has engraved a criticism of life as serious and as considers as Hardy’s.” Her stories are never dull and always resonate with the reader. They are consistently filled with handsome characters, amazing plot, love stories, gossip, and happy endings, all to be the ideal components to attract any reader. Therefore, one can argue that Austen is without a doubt an essential writer that changed the perception – at that time – of women inability to match men in writing. It is also noted that Austen used romance as an instrument for her to display the numerous problems her society suffered from without coming off as moralizing. These problems such as political and social corruption, class problems and how society clearly favors men over women.
Finally, the greatness of Jane Austen embodied in the smallest details of her writing, such as the fact that she wrote about life and society as she knew it. Jane distinguished herself by staying away from capturing immortal love stories or great wars as there have been always such stories, but rather she succeeded to make great writing from mundane events that could happen to anyone, anytime. Her genius arises from making those mundane events and small details memorable, which in the end what made her writing so unique and ageless.
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