Essay of Opinion: Jane Austen

Have you ever wondered if you should have been born in a different era?  You could be a flapper girl in the 1920’s, getting swept up in protests during the ‘60’s, or owning a great pair of parachute pants in the ‘80s.  What would you be like?  Who would you have been friends with and would your dreams, ambitions, or passions be the same?  It is entertaining to imagine the possibilities.  Taking this thought one step further, think about figures you know from the past and imagine how they would be today.  Would Marilyn Monroe be our version of Kim Kardashian or would Babe Ruth be in the tabloids for dating a new young actress posting instagram pictures of his night out?  Or what about one of the most innovative and well known English authors, Jane Austen?

For a woman with so much wit and humor in the early 1800’s, I would be curious to image Jane Austen in the 21st century.  I can envision that she would write novels that every woman recommends to each other. Her words always had a classy way of stating a truth about relationships, “With men he can be rational and unaffected, but when he has ladies to please, every feature works” - Jane Austen[1]  Austen writes what most every woman is feeling.   After researching comparable books and movies to Austen’s novels I was surprised at what I found. “It's almost as if she never left us. Nearly 200 years after her death, Jane Austen has carved out a permanent place in our popular culture. A survey of Internet Movie Database reveals dozens of movies adapted from both her work and life.” [2] I came across the movie Clueless being linked to Emma.  This was a movie I loved growing up and it gave me a deeper understanding of how Jane Austen used her wit to convey a story about romance that most women can relate to.

Now that I had a better idea of who Jane Austen was as a person and a writer, I can say that she would be one of my favorite authors today.  She grew up in a small village, and her characters were written in such a relatable way.  This is not a woman who wrote about the rich and famous.  Her readers knew where she was coming from and it felt real to them because Austen wrote what she knew and she did it well.  The intelligence and spunk of her characters inspired women to be themselves.  I think if Jane Austen were around now, she would be a role model for women and be a strong voice in the literature world.

However, I feel that she may not have developed as a writer the way she did in the 1800’s.  The fact that she wrote the books for the sole purpose of entertaining her family gave her the freedom to write anything she wanted.  She was not worried about judgements or wondering who her audience would be.  It was natural to her.  Now that women are very respected as authors, I wonder if she would feel as open to express her truest self or get caught up with the sales and fitting into a perfect image.

The world we live in now has so many outlets that authors can take to get their story across.  I would be her first follower on Twitter and subscriber to her blog.  She loved to entertain with her words and these social media choices, I think, would be her most used.  She likes to connect to her readers and she liked to write when nobody was looking.  This would be a great way for her to express her thoughts and get feedback from her audience.  As we have already seen, her novels have made many popular movies.  She may have been the Nicholas Sparks of our world or she might have offended audiences with her harsh judgments of her characters.  Engel states, “But we also have to admit that her attention to the social mores of her era, her cool judgement of others leaves us feeling that she was perhaps too intellectual, too distant, with too little heart.”.[3]  The internet and social media outlets could also have led to her downfall.  It is hard to say how she would have adjusted to today’s society but it is sure fun to think about.


[1] "Quote - With men he can be rational and unaffected, but when he ..." <http://quotationsbook.com/quote/26157/>

[2] Huff, D. A Multigenre Research Project about Aunt Jane.  Retrieved from    weberschool.org/jane-austen/home

[3] Engel, E. (2002). A dab of Dickens & a touch of Twain: literary lives from Shakespeare's old England to Frost's New England. New York: Pocket Books.