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Why Austen bores the modern audience

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Introduction

'Jane Austen bores the modern audience: discuss This was my opinion of the author ensuing the five minutes of a BBC dramatization I was unfortunate enough to encounter, and the fifteen pages of Pride and Prejudice I endured two years ago. With the purpose of challenging this intolerance I set aside my prejudices and read it. ...Three days of summer holiday and a dozen or so hours of persistence later I reached the closing pages with an outlook that was, to say the least, unchanged; the faint interest sustained towards the middle of the novel was extinguished completely, and all my pessimistic expectations were depressingly established. The plot is centred around spouse gathering (the first line: 'it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife'), which is the foundation of many Victorian novels: Hardy, for example, takes this base and adds complications of treachery, death and suicide; Far from the Madding crowd, for example, begins with a rather placid story about a pretty woman and her admirers; by the conclusion the unsuccessful aforementioned is driven insane by the return of the deserted aforementioned and shoots him, then fails to kill himself. ...read more.

Middle

(My irrational exasperation stems from the unvarying employment of the word 'vexed' or 'vexation' instead of the plethora of synonyms available). It is a feat indeed then, when Austen writes a letter from Mr. Collins and intends it to be satirically ostentatious ('to be lamented', 'licentiousness of behaviour', 'augmented'). Writers of this age 'prided themselves with extravagant usage of punctuation: in the crafting of elaborate sentences' ('mine's longer than yours''); now [2007], the comma suffices - over-punctuated sentences tiresome to readers & difficult to understand. The structure of the book gives a predictability which is cringe-inducing after it's finished: early on in the first volume there are balls where the Netherfield and Longbourn parties are introduced to each other; Jane and Elizabeth both find partners whose meetings on the dance-floor are related in detail, and it is these affiliations which end in marriage at the book's conclusion. Austen may have been striving to produce an irony in Elizabeth's first meeting with Darcy - her rudeness towards him contrasting with the deep affection experienced later on - but Darcy's partiality is so obvious by his repeated hand-offerings; and his remarks at first ('not handsome enough to tempt me'), compared with Elizabeth's overdone disaffection ('I quite detest the man') ...read more.

Conclusion

Darcy pleads her 'justice' in perusing his countenance, and he offends her out of 'necessity'. The previous example especially is both humble and superior: he only insults her because he is forced to; nevertheless he is taking a liberty by considering a necessity to affront. (I resisted an urge here to cross reference Jane Austen with Catherine Tate. It's obvious who the real genius is...) Patterns of words are exploited throughout; recurrently the phrase structure of the adverb 'most' followed by an adjective in creating speech for the fairer sex: 'most displeased', 'most agitated', etc. The effect achieved is much the same as the abovementioned - an upper-class verbalization. The spectrum of emotional effects throughout the whole book is small. From the depiction of mild anticipatory discomfort to the fairly strong sense of awkwardness portrayed in Elizabeth's meetings with Darcy subsequent to the receiving of the explanatory letter, there is no contrast harsh enough for us to relate in any significant way to the character's happiness at the end of the story. In conclusion, despite my judgment of this book as an uneventful, upper-class, pretentious, boring novel so distant from today's morals as to be almost surreal; which only approaches the mildly amusing in the half-hearted humour directed at the un-funny comments by Mr. Bennet above; I can go as far to say that when compared with the two greatest writers of her era, Austen has a comfortable top-three placement. ...read more.

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