By Kaitlyn Donato, WHS Student
It is not often that older novels transcend time and connect with readers of modern audiences. Nonetheless, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and other works still resonate with countless young readers today.
Jane Austen, born in Hampshire, England, in 1775, did not have the same privileges many young women experience today. Although I am personally encouraged to pursue my occupational ambitions, Austen lived in a time where the ideal woman was often submissive to a man’s wishes, and was responsible for household tasks and child care instead of earning a salary herself.
Although the time period presented unique challenges for women, Austen disagreed with the opinion that women could not care for themselves. As someone who never became married, Austen was a highly unconventional female author for her time. While many of her contemporary female novelists used male pen names so as to conceal their gender, Austen not only used her given name, but also created stories focusing on female perspectives. Her first novel, Sense and Sensibility, was even authored under the name “A Lady”.
Her female characters dealt with timeless challenges in her works: fighting for their happiness, their futures, and their right to choose their own path. Although Elizabeth Bennett may come from a different time than me, I admire and relate to her courage, her wit, and her vivacity. Through her strong characters and elegant prose, Jane Austen is still able to resonate with readers across centuries. As a young girl, I feel grateful for what Jane Austen has written, and am excited to learn more about the female perspectives from her time.