It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single woman in possession of no fortune, must be in want of money. This is the real story of Jane Austen.
In Austen’s time is was difficult for a young woman to make money. She was supposed to marry and if possible, marry well. Or depend on her family, work as a governess or a teacher or shop girl or even a servant. Austen went another way, writing.
Not a stunning success in her time, her works are now beloved classics.
Many believe Austen was a romantic who pinned for a mysterious lost love. They read her books as romances extolling the virtues of true love.
I think they’re almost anti-romance. The female characters try to believe they are in love, but they really need money. Romance is almost mocked (especially Marianne’s character in Sense & Sensibility, it’s only once she loses her illusions about romance that she makes a good match).
She is shrewd, at times derisive, and quite feminist.
Think about the odds against such adroit, cynical, and realistic writings coming from a woman in the late 1700s to early 1800s.
Austen was a breath of fresh air that was way out of her time.
So why the ever-growing widespread fascination? Whether you enjoy Austen on a romantic level or a pragmatic level, and/or just enjoy her wit, skill, and irony, she appeals to a woman’s heart, her brain, and her pocketbook.
Why is Pride and Prejudice the #1 Austen fav? Obviously who wouldn’t fall for the proud, rich, and honest Mr. Darcy, well, any woman who doesn’t need the money and has some self-respect.
It’s Elizabeth Bennett that women really fall in love with. She’s a strong, self-confident, practical woman that captivates. Her line about believing she loved Mr. Darcy more from first seeing his beautiful grounds at Pemberley is hilarious and really sums up the desperation and frustration must have felt as a woman who couldn’t earn her keep or make a fortune as men could.
Not all her heroines marry for money, some are out of loneliness, fear of becoming spinsters, and a belief they’re in love. The more that changes, the more that stays the same.
The most important part of Ms. Austen’s books are that the heroines love themselves first, then find their Mr. Darcy, Captain Wentworth, Knightley, etc. to complement not complete them.