Today, or more aptly yesterday, I began my endeavors to get to know Jane Austen. In high school, I was able to avoid her acquaintance through my English teacher’s disdain for her. None of my college professors introduced me, so I escape being forced to read her. I am not a huge fan of romances and thus avoided her at great length.
It wasn’t until two events took place within a fortnight that I decided to introduce myself to her and her many fine works. The first was the invitation by theliteraryshack to join the Jane Austen Blog Fest this month. Not being a fan, I was a little hesitant to join. Then my students and I had our arms twisted by the gods of curriculum to read “On the Vindication of the Right’s of Women” by Mary Wollstonecraft. The essay if you haven’t read it is a discussion on how women’s education at the time only trained them to find husbands.
Jane Austen’s novels center around romance and the search for happiness in the same era. The social commentary isn’t as bold as in Wollstonecraft. It’s presence is subtle and effective. The social conventions of the time restricted women in such a way that success was determined their ability to marry well. Education for the daughter’s middle class families was geared at making them more suitable for marriage. Wollstonecraft, the mother of Feminism, argued that training women only for one purpose harmed not only them, but society.
Those events led me to accept the challenge of reading an author whom I had previous avoided. Alright, not completely avoided. I did read Pride, Prejudice and Zombies and loved it. And yes, it was my love of horror that compelled me to pick it up.
Now, I am preparing for a month of reading, writing and discussing Jane. Wish me, luck…..