Why we should read….Jane Austen

· Popular culture

There are several reasons why someone should read Jane Austen. And her books are not just for women. Anyone who is interested in human nature should read Austen. Even someone for whom English is not the first language could benefit from reading her because she writes long sentences that are so beautifully crafted.


Another reason to read her is if you are interested in what social life was like in England at the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth centuries. She delineates exactly the difference between the various classes. It is fascinating since we live in a time that is very different from hers.


She is also a masterful comic writer. Her best known book is probably Pride and Prejudice, but Emma is another extremely popular one. She died at the age of 42, so she wrote only about half a dozen books in her short life. She is very good at offering in-depth portraits of characters. She is capable of making you care about her characters.


For example, let’s look at the character of Emma Woodhouse, the heroine of Emma. She is a matchmaker, someone who tries to set people up with others in a romantic sense. But she is an unsuccessful matchmaker, and it is within that lack of success that we catch profound glimpses of her true character. She is complex, not superficial. She is both good and bad, like all human beings. There is a notable moment in the book where she says something careless that hurts the feelings of another character who is well regarded in the community. The man who loves her criticizes her for being so thoughtless and she has the grace to feel awful about her social transgression. Austen is excellent at this type of thing.


The fascinating look at class, and people’s interactions within their positions in the overall class structure, the comedy, and the in-depth look at human nature, along with the deft characterizations Austen engages in, all combine to make Austen one of the best writers in the English language.

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