Jane is a voice for every woman. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that Jane Austen is a great writer. Her collection of characters that pack her six now famous novels are well known.
In her lifetime, Jane was an anonymous author, not named until after her death. How sad is that! Yet her voice was a voice for the ‘everywoman’, the ordinary woman in society.
This anonymity was the lot of many women writers, like Mary Shelley, the subject of last week’s blog, and her mother before her, Mary Wollstonecraft, the first feminist.
Another writer, Mary Ann Evans, even a century later, hid her identity under the masculine pen name, George Eliot. Really, this situation was tantamount to wearing a mask or veil to hide one’s femininity. And that is not something any person should be ashamed of.
Women were silenced and marginalized by society’s limitations. But such was the state of society in the 18th century and well beyond, even now in the 21st century in some cultures.
Jane A Voice for Every Woman
Yet though hidden, a female writer still had a voice or in this case, a pen, to speak for herself and others.
Women have unique voices to contribute to society, and writing is one way they can contribute, even anonymously. Their voice gives all silent or marginalized women a voice.
Showcasing a Variety of Characters
Jane, a voice for every woman and a man to a lesser extent. Her books are packed to perfection with an assortment of mothers, fathers, petulant daughters, philandering soldiers, and everyday people.
Absent from her novels are the conventional stereotypes, the swooning virgins, the swashbuckling heroes and nobility unless they are positioned in a negative light, eg Lady Catherine de Bourgh in Pride and Prejudice. Instead, the reader is treated to a microcosm of village life populated with country clergy, minor gentry and basically, real people.
Include a Voice for Every Woman
Born in 1775, the seventh child of eight, Jane was blessed with a supportive family who encouraged her creative writing and learning. Her father was a local clergyman, so she no doubt met the parishioners and had plenty of subject matter to observe.
It is her keen observation of human nature that renders her characters so real and, at times, comic. Through her amusing portrayal of the ridiculousness of human nature, we enjoy the delightful Emma Woodhouse, Mrs. Bennet and the detestable Lady Catherine de Bourgh.
Jane, the Brilliant Unnamed Novelist
Thanks to her brother, the self-elected go-between to Lord Byron’s publisher, four of her novels became published works in her lifetime, even achieving second edition status. They are the now famous Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma, and Mansfield Park.
These anonymously authored titles attracted the interest of the Prince Regent and Sir Walter Scott. He was a famous writer who championed the anonymous writer as “the brilliant unnamed novelist.”
Jane’s Masterpieces Showcase Human Nature
It was only after her untimely death at just 41 that Scott’s essays invited critics to examine Jane’s novels. They declared them entertaining and satirical masterpieces representing human nature in all its variety.
This quality explains the enduring appeal of her novels. It’s not just the English culture but worldwide success of the film versions of her books.
Jane, Anonymous No More
After her death in 1817, her brother named her as the author and published her remaining novels, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion, posthumously.
Sanditon, an unfinished manuscript, has been currently adapted to a Tv series by Andrew Davies of the United Kingdom.
Jane’s Novels Captivate Every Woman
Jane is a voice for every woman. She started a new genre of ‘domestic literature’ based on reality featuring tales of ordinary people living unremarkable lives. But most of all, she captured the voice of women. Jane writes of love, marriage, family, and the everywoman tensions in society, mainly because of the gender divide.
Every woman likes to read about other women. Women are interested in why we do what we do, the psychology of it all. But mostly, women like to read about other women and be inspired.
Jane gives us hope, humour and wisdom for our lives. She still speaks to us through her books and gives a voice to the everywoman, the ordinary woman.
Joni Scott is an Australian author with two published novels: Whispers through Time and The last Hotel. She co-hosts a women’s blog; https://whisperingencouragement.com/ and has her own website; https://joniscottauthor.com.
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