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Hot Girls Read Jane Austen: the Eternal Relevance of Austen's Work

Paul McCartney was once asked: 'What do you think it is about your music that transcends

geographic and language barriers.' He answered, 'easy lyrics.'

This message is echoed when one questions the relevancy of Jane Austen. Though Austen was not a musician, the sentiment stands the same. Her novels have stood the test of time, still culturally relevant as they were two hundred years ago. Why is this, though? Her novels were focused on eternally relevant topics like love, isolation, girlhood and internal politics.

All six of her novels were female-led and female focused. They all highlighted a young woman's search for the meaning of life and love. Her characters are often described as 'way ahead of their time', something that's confirmed in the relatability of modern-day interpretations of her characters, like Clueless' Cher and Bridget Jones.

Her most popular novel Pride and Prejudice sees the protagonist Elizabeth Bennet twenty years old and rejecting a proposal from her cousin Mr. Collins. She is shown to be fond of reading and chases the pursuit of education, something frowned upon at the time. But, since its publication, these traits are often the defining traits of the contemporary 'modern women.'

Another novel of hers, Sense and Sensibility, is often regarded as her most courageous work, and the reason why she published the novel anonymously. It was one of the first novels of its time to discuss widowhood openly as the main characters, the Dashwood Sisters, move with their recently widowed mother upon the death of their father, from the estate they grew up in.

Austen's life was quite similar to Miss Bennet in many ways. For instance, she decided to stay unmarried for the rest of her life, something uncommon for women at the time. Plus, at twenty-seven, she rejected a proposal, much like Miss Bennet.

This 'timeless' attribute of Austen's literature has led to countless adaptations of her work, from period pieces to modern-day updates. The 2005 Pride and Prejudice has been deemed a modern-day classic by Gen-Z, showing that in spite of the text's old-fashioned setting, the story and message still connect with people today. And we can't forget the modern-day adaptations. 1995's Clueless, a modern retelling of Austen's Emma, is culturally significant on its own, emphasising the timelessness of Emma's character, updated into the image of Beverly Hills girl Cher Horowitz. Bridget Jones' Diary, however, is loosely based off of Pride and Prejudice, and the character's relatability again displaying the eternal relevance of Austen.

Words by Aadya Paswan

Edited by Lucy Eaton


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