246 years ago today, Jane Austen was born. She would go on to become one of the most loved writers in the history of literature, with her daring wit continuing to inspire courage in today’s emerging generation.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that books are food for the brain, so let’s cook up a birthday feast with some of the wisest life lessons Austen has imparted us with.
- Don’t judge a book by its cover.
“It is particularly incumbent on those who never change their opinion, to be secure of judging properly at first.” – Pride and Prejudice.
It is safe to say that the relationship between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy throughout Pride and Prejudice created the enemies-to-lovers trope into the staple it now is. From feeding off stereotypes to empty presumptions, Elizabeth’s side of the dynamic teaches us not to forget that each person is their character despite the genres of their life.
2. Growing up doesn’t have to be boring.
“How often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparation!” – Emma
Austen painted us an array of scenes where we envied the carefree nature of its silliest characters. An unfortunate observation is that this light-heartedness comes from the youngsters rather than the adults most of the time.
Austen’s notorious criticism of society makes itself known here as she purposely molds maturity into these very characters to ironically show us that the dullness of adulthood is a learned progression.
The good news? This means that you still have it in you to laugh during severe settings!
3. Self-examination can be healthy.
“We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it than any other person can be.” – Mansfield Park.
Whether it’s checking our pride, prejudice, sense, sensibility, or even persuasion, Austen reminds us of the good that can come from looking within. Avoiding hypocrisy, understanding your privilege, and guiding yourself towards becoming better individuals are just a few benefits of healthily evaluating yourself.
4. A friendship is invaluable.
“Friendship is certainly the finest balm for the pangs of disappointed love.” – Northanger Abbey.
Elizabeth and Jane, Emma and Harriet, and Marianne and Elinor are just a few friendships that Austen interweaves so smoothly yet successfully.
They all happen to be duos rather than groups, assuring us that one very good friend is well enough to get us through our chapters in life.
There is further importance in these friendships too. While modern narratives are only beginning to create female characters who support each other rather than compete (predictably, for a man), Austen has long pitched this as an element that outlasts romances.
5. Follow your happiness
“I wish, as well as everybody else, to be perfectly happy; but, like everybody else, it must be in my own way.” – Sense and Sensibility.
It is perhaps easier to criticize society than to provide solutions to its entrapment. However, Austen’s most significant attempt at this is a timeless life lesson to follow your own happiness.
Its simplicity at face value is demonstrated to be anything but throughout her novels, which is why her advice doesn’t stop there.
“Know your own happiness. Want for nothing but patience – or give it a more fascinating name: Call it hope.” – Sense and Sensibility
6. Romance for love’s sake… or even don’t romance at all
“What are men to rocks and mountains?” – Pride and Prejudice
Whether it’s the reminder that you can have a loved-up life without romance, or the fact that marriage is optional, Austen’s trademark irony also came alive in the way she wrote romance.
With Austen proving these life lessons to be true in her own life, the role model truly deserves to be celebrated for her 246 years of fierce wisdom.