Tuesday, December 02, 2014

For the Jane Austen in Us

For the Jane Austen in usJane Austen’s 239th birth anniversary is coming up. (Dec 14th 2014) and almost two centuries later, she is still one of the bestsellers!. I read my first Jane Austen at the age of sixteen and got hooked. She has written only few books (Six to be precise, the seventh one was left unfinished, what a pity!)  but what a mark they have left. Why do we love her so much? What is that “thing” which gets us read her so much?  After much thought I realised that it is not one but several factors which make her the most lovable author till this day. I think her works are so relevant to this date owing to many common factors of her book and the present society we live in .Let me list them down and see if you also think so?
  •  Gold-digging mothers looking for rich grooms: Ok in India this is the case. A rich groom is what the bride’s mother dreams of.  The number of houses he has, the cars he owns, the number of times he has visited a “foreign” land.  Mrs Bennette matches this character perfectly so do our modern mothers. This character is from “Pride and Prejudice” who steals the show with her “gold-digging” indexJ.
  • The gossiping neighbourhood Aunty:  Jane Austen books are replete with these characters be it in “Persuasion”,”Sense and Sensibility” or “Pride and Prejudice”. The Aunts rule the gossip market by passing news between houses and becoming the modern “Indian Breaking news channel”. Jane Austen nailed this character to perfection!. Be it Mrs Philip from P&P or Mary from Persuasion or even Emma from Emma , all of the characters thrived on gossip. Hail gossip.
  • The Strong and Silent M&B hero: Jane Austen can be named as the official founder of M&B and Harlequin because her leading men just fit the bill perfectly of a Harlequin hero. Name one lady/girl who doesn’t swoon when they hear the name Darcy?  Colonel Brandon of Sense and Sensibility, Knightly of Emma, Captain Wentworth of Persuasion all are trademark heroes of Romance novelsJ. Darcy is the strong silent type who has a heart of a gold(his housekeeper tells Lizzy when she visits Pemberly). He is not the flirting kind who falls for beauty alone. He wants brains and wit in a girl.  What a character! Wentworth from Persuasion  gives into ego and ignores Anne only to lose the battle at the end. All beautiful characters making the swoon meter hit the maximum for girls like us.
  •  Plane Jane heroine /Girl Next door:  Plain Jane character is a famous one till date.  Many a stories have been written with that theme. The plain girl with ordinary looks, with her exemplary character manages to attract the leading man and ends up happily ever after.  I think Anne of Persuasion is the best the instance of it. Anne loses her bloom very early in her life but with her elegance, maturity and sensibility rises above everybody. Mr Wentworth cannot help himself but to fall in love with her all over again!  This theme has been used umpteen times in movies/books/tv dramas. Jane Austen , take a bow . Your stock characters are still alive!
  • Dancing and Music and parties:  Dance and Music are integral part of Jane Austen’s novels.  Major love stories of her have started in a ball, a card party or dinner parties.  And so is the case even today! Dance and Music is part of every love story till date Romance quotient rises with it and we have to thank Ms Austen for paving the way!
  •  Woman of Substance: All of Jane Austen heroines have a mind of their own. They belonged to the Victorian era (which was conservative of times) and yet the heroines had the guts to express what they feel like. Apart from Mansfield Park heroine, all the rest were witty, bold, sensible and of course unconventional. Anne of Persuasion seems submissive but actually she is not. She opposes her status conscious father strongly to be with her poor friend belonging to lower strata.  Elizabeth oF P&P plainly disapproves Lady DeBorough and even goes to the extent of boldly telling her that she wouldn’t mind being engaged to Mr Darcy. That’s our girl!
  • Status and position in society: Titles and status played a major role in Jane Austen’s books (which probably reflected the Victorian era). A Baronet looked down upon common people. Why, even Darcy (who is owns Pemberly estate in P&P) openly tells Lizzy (while proposing to her) that “despite her family’s status in society” he is ready to go down and ask her for marriage (No wonder Lizzy turns him down!) Status still plays a big role in our present world isn’t it? Poor girl rich guy or rich guy poor girl combo is still looked with a shock!
  • Extended families: Extended families provide all “extra” drama we need to spice up a novel and Austen has pioneered in that art. All her books deal with huge families(cousins,uncles,aunts,neighbours) and their stories  are interwoven with the main story in such a logical fashion that nothing seems out of place.  It is like one organic plant.And for that reason alone we need to bow to Ms Austen. Our current soaps deal with such families but alas not to the same effect as Ms Austen.  They could surely learn something from her.

The list goes on.  Her foresight, her exemplary observation of the society around her, her understanding of human emotions and relations is above par. Jane Austen continues to enthrall us for the sole reason that she made stories of real human emotions which have not changed till date.   #Respect #Brilliant  for our dear Jane Austen.

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