Jane Austen biography
Photo by Elaine Howlin on Unsplash                      

This love for Jane Austen started at the pubescent stage when my classmates and I in grade 8 were introduced to the unsurpassable ‘Pride and Prejudice’. Of course, as all moony-eyed teens do, my classmates and I fell in love with Mr. Darcy. We all looked up to Elizabeth who knew her mind and wasn’t afraid to speak her mind.

But it was much later I began to appreciate the brain behind these beautifully etched characters.

Photo by Esther Ann on Unsplash

What is it about Jane Austen’s works that captivate so many of us? Whether it is ‘Emma or ‘Sense and Sensibility’ or ‘Northanger’s Abbey’ Jane Austen’s powerful characters rule the roost. It is a female-dominated world where males are relegated to the back burner. Though the men play key roles, it is the women who drive the plot ahead.

Personally, it is the romance in her novels that first drew me toward them. Despite remaining unmarried all her life, Jane chose to see the bright side of life. Though she endured heartache in her life her female characters live happily ever after. Jane addressed the issues of society which still seem very relatable, like the position of a woman in her household, in the society. Her female characters were endowed with sharp wit and chutzpah. They were no shrinking wallflowers but instead, women with a mind of their own and their wit sparkled through the pages of the novels.

Jane Austen’s characters be it the intelligent, sensible, practical, kind, and, above all, reserved and self-contained Elinor or the mischievous and innocent Emma, the arrogant man with the heart of gold ‘Mr.
Darcy’, are all distinct from each other. The characters were far from perfect. The plot points usually help the characters take a good look at themselves and grow in the course of the novel. Here plots are simple and a reflection of the times they were set in. But it is the ease with which she writes and concocts these plot devices, that remains unparalleled to date and relatable. She can turn everyday conversations and mundane happenings into an art form.

Jane Austen had her head in the clouds. She was a bit of a pragmatist but a dreamer. She paints her romances as perfect with expectations of true love and happiness ever after. And why shouldn’t she? Austen’s works are by far the most impressive, and relatable despite the period in which it is set. Progress has to be made and glass ceilings need to be shattered but the universe of Jane Austen beautifully lends itself to this progress.

-Roopa Rajesh is a bibliophile, a ‘chai’ophile, and a chocoholic who is passionate about teaching, books, music, family, and friends, and not in that order.