Orthodox America

  A Teenager's Jane Austen

by Faith Elizabeth Young

Jane Austen was born on December 17, 1775. She had five brothers and one sister. Her parents were Rev. George and Cassandra Leigh Austen. She never married, although she was deeply in love at one point. Her novels reflect her own character. The following quotation from tombstone in Winchester Cathedral, England, reveals much about her personality:

      "The benevolence of her heart, the sweetness of her temper, and the extraordinary endowments of her mind obtained the regard of all who knew her, and the warm est of love of her intimate connections."

Unfortunately, Jane Austen only wrote six novels, the first of which was Sense and Sensibility, published in 1811, followed by Pride and Prejudice in 1813. Emma, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion soon followed. All of these have been made into films or television specials and are readily available. She died at the young age of only forty-two, on July 18, 1817.

      I had never heard about Jane Austen till my Aunt Justina told me about her. She suggested that I watch the old black and white 1940s version of Pride and Prejudice. After I saw it I decided to give the B.B.C. version a try. I didn't like it at first, but then I grew to love it. After I saw another film based on a novel by Jane Austen, I decided to give the books a try. I found them to be delightful and enjoyable, and much better than the movies, because there is more development of character and more substance and detail to the plots.

      You may wonder why I like Jane Austen so much. Well, to begin with, these novels are decent and moral: there is no ,sex, violence, or bad language. They have interesting and usually admirable and moral characters. They are funny and charming and, believe it or not, terribly romantic, even with no kissing! You don't need sex in order to have a romantic story. To be romantic, a book only needs three things: a simple yet deep love story, some deep characters, and a beautiful way of expressing romantic feelings. I also find the time and culture in which these novels take place to be very appealing, partly because people really valued and practiced good manners.

     My favorite characters are Mr. Darcy and Miss Elizabeth Bennet, who are the two main characters of Pride and Prejudice. Mr. Darcy represents pride, and Lizzie represents prejudice. Lizzie is not very impressed with Dr. Darcy's "I'm better than everyone else" attitude. Mr. Darcy is not impressed with Lizzie's quickness to judge people. But somehow they both manage to change, for the guood of everyone. I can really "relate" to Lizzie because I am also very quick to judge.

      I think it's a shame that most teenagers would probably dislike Jane Austen. In today's society we try hard to "fit in" by watching and reading some of the "junk" that's out there trying to get our attention. Jane Austen's novels reflect a time when family, moral values, and self sacrifice were a lot more important than they are now. We Orthodox Christian teenagers need to know what those family values are so that we can create them in our own families when the time comes.

Faith is the fourteen-year-old daughter of Father Alexey and the late Matushka Susan Young, of Denver, Colorado. She has been home-schooled by her parents and aunt for the last two years. In addition to reading, Faith enjoys Scottish dancing,

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