Why I love…Jane Austen

I think I’m not the only one.

There are a few reasons why I keep rereading her novels every so often, why I’ve memorized some passages, why I’ve rewatched many of the TV and movie adaptations (I won’t address the Netflix version, Anne Elliot would never get drunk and say that she rejected—but I digress and I love Dakota Johnson), why some of the soundtracks are among the scores I listen to the most.

To start with, there’s the characters. As memorable as they are distinct from each other, not only are they well developed but they also grow throughout their corresponding stories. Emma Woodhouse is rather exhausting, but she comes to see the error of her ways and she understands how hurtful her words can be. Lizzie Bennet learns that not everyone can be trusted and, sometimes, her perceptions and ideas need to change. Anne Elliot did most of her growing before the start of Persuasion, while Catherine Morland gets a better grasp of reality because of her blunders. Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, well, if you know them, you already know how they grow. Maybe Fanny Price is the character who changes the least, but at the same time, she doesn’t really need to, does she?

And as for the gents, Henry Tilney is sweet and funny, Darcy is stubborn but also admits that he is flawed, and Wentworth accepts that his happiness is his own choice after he learns to forgive Anne and he realizes that he still loves her. Edmund Bertram grows to see how mistaken he has been, Mr. Knightley isn’t afraid to voice his opinion when he knows that the woman he loves needs to be shown how misguided or rude she was, and Edward Ferrars and Colonel Brandon complement each other just as they complement the Dashwood sisters.

As for the plots, I was at a literature course where we read Persuasion and one of my classmates said nothing happens in the story. Well, yes and no. I appreciate the simplicity of the stories, which afford great character development, and yes, I quite love the happy endings. While the plots may be straightforward, they transcend time. From having an overactive imagination to getting wrong first impressions about someone, as well as hurting or being hurt by others and then deciding if forgiving is possible or not, Austen’s novels are timeless.

This latter point can be seen in contemporary adaptations, such as Melissa Nathan’s Persuading Annie and Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones texts, as well as productions like The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and Clueless, among many others.

Plus, it’s always nice to revisit stories that you love and discover new things.

How do you feel about Jane?

Moira Daly

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