Why I Don’t Like Jane Austen

Jane austen blog header 2

The title made you click on this post, didn’t it? You’re probably wondering how on earth could someone hate Jane Austen??

Well, I don’t hate Austen. She has an unique and humorous writing style, which I appreciate. She is a master of wit and sarcasm, she wrote interesting female characters at a time in history when women in fiction were usually cardboard cut-outs (even Dickens, who wrote his novels decades after Austen and who is remembered as one of history’s greatest authors, still had a very weak grasp of interesting female characters, in my own opinion).

However, I mentioned a while back that I greatly disliked Pride and Prejudice when I read it, so I thought I would elaborate a little bit on why I didn’t like it.

So, why didn’t I enjoy Austen (specifically, Pride and Prejudice)?

I started reading Austen’s classic some time last year. I was listening to it as an audiobook, but over halfway through, my loan ran out and I had to return it. I later borrowed from the library it as a paperback, read one page and then threw it across the room (metaphorically, not literally. I respect classics too much for that). I’d had enough, so I moved on.

A truth...2

But for several months, I couldn’t put my finger on why I hated it so much. All I could do was rant about it’s incredible boringness. (As a side note, I still hold that it was an incredibly boring book, however, that wasn’t my core issue. Les Miserables and Anna Karenina can both be extremely boring in parts, but I still enjoyed them a lot.)

Finally, after reading Jane Eyre (which, to my absolute surprise, I really loved!) I found a quote by Charlotte Bronte, in which she explained why she couldn’t stand Pride and Prejudice.

Bronte (who had been told that she should try writing more like Austen), replied, in essence, that there wasn’t enough emotion in Austen’s writing. I found myself agreeing with her.

So, there were three main reasons that I didn’t like Austen’s writing:

1.   Lack of Connectibility (Look, I just created a new word!)

Because of this lack of emotion, Austen failed to make me connect with Elizabeth, or Darcy or anyone (except dear Mr Bingley).

As I’m writing this, I’m multitasking and reading an article on Kingdom Pen by Josiah DeGraaf, in which he says:

First, form a bond between readers and the protagonist as quickly as possible. The sooner readers care about and empathize with the protagonist, the better. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to reveal a key flaw or weakness.

I felt no bond with Elizabeth and I didn’t care what on earth happened to her. Does Elizabeth have any flaws other than an ingrained prejudice and an uncontrollable tongue? I don’t know. In no way could I relate to Elizabeth, and maybe the only thing we have in common is a love of books.

If you’ve already forged an emotional connection between readers and the protagonist, the protagonist’s inner turmoil should move readers and force them to consider how they would respond to the dilemma. These choices are often at the center of a novel’s theme.

Because I couldn’t connect with Elizabeth, I also didn’t care about her dilemmas. For all I cared, she could settle down with Wickham. Because I didn’t care about Darcy, I didn’t desire him and Elizabeth to understand one another. I don’t live in Regency England. I don’t live in a world where marriage is seen as the only option for a woman, I’m not interested in romance at this stage of my life. My house isn’t in danger of being left to an incredibly annoying cousin, my sister hasn’t been jilted, I’m not a misunderstood, brooding rich man, I’m not caught up in my featherbrained little sister’s scandal. None of those things have happened to me, but Austen should have been able to make me feel like they have and are happening to me.

There was nothing which made me want to keep turning the pages. Nothing to hold me in suspense.

Phantom of the Opera

2.   Superficiality  

I don’t like superficiality, either in real life or in fiction. I don’t stand around and gossip and find it interesting in real life, so I don’t enjoy sitting and reading about it. I don’t like small talk, and I don’t care who is going to the formal (or the Regency ball) with whom.

I like talking about things that are important–either to me or to the person I’m having a conversation with. I like talking about things that make me question and think. I like talking about things that have meaning. This is why I enjoy the long rambling philosophical discussions in A Tale of Two Cities or in Les Miserables. I like things that make me cry.

E.g. Not Pride and Prejudice.

I hear a lot of people talk about the satirical social commentary that Jane Austen hid beneath her ball gowns and gossip. I personally found nothing enlightening. Making fun of Regency English traditions does not appeal to me in the same way that a book dealing with resurrection, justice and self-sacrifice does.

And yes I know. The actual point of the story is about how pride and prejudice affect relationships and blind us to seeing who someone really is. That’s a perfectly good theme, but the same theme is dealt with in The Scarlet Pimpernel (in a way that is much shorter and more interesting, where the dancing actually has interesting conversations. And I’m probably in the minority here, but I’m going to marry Percy Blakeney before I marry Fitzwilliam Darcy).

….

So, those were the two main reasons I disliked Pride and Prejudice. There were a few other ones as well. Whilst I enjoy sarcasm, I get tired of it very quickly, and I felt like there was an overload of witty comebacks. I also cannot understand Darcy and I wonder what happened in his life that made him so cynical and critical of the world. I don’t like romances in the first place (one wonders why I chose to pick it up then? I don’t make any sense sometimes). Dancing is a lot of fun to do and watch, but it loses it’s magic on the page, so don’t write about balls too often. Etc.

Anyway, I’m sure I’ve forgotten something, but that’s all for now. My rant is complete *bows* *runs away from the things sure to be thrown*

 What do you think of Pride and Prejudice?Do you enjoy Jane Austen? Why or why not? I’m always eager to hear another opinion!

 

 

20 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Like Jane Austen

  1. I honestly really liked Pride and Prejudice (maybe because I was proud of myself for finishing a wordy classic?? That really doesn’t make sense haha!) But yeah, this post definitely made me do a double take and click!
    I personally never quite understood what CHANGED Darcy’s manner toward Elizabeth and everyone else so abruptly. It did seem a little odd, and I kind of got lost with all the backstory between him and Wickham. Overall, I enjoyed. But I can see where you’re coming from!
    ~ riley aline

    Liked by 1 person

    • I definitely felt that way when I read The Lord of the Rings and Les Miserables, so I know where you’re coming from! Those classic authors can really ramble on!
      😀 I’m becoming skilled at clickbait…or not…
      What sort of annoyed me about Darcy (more in the movie version than the book, since I never got to the end of the book) was that while he changed his views on Elizabeth, he didn’t necessarily changes his views on the world in general. He seems very cynical and unhappy with the world and I want to know why, and if he changed his opinion of general society.
      I can see how some people enjoy it, it’s just not my cup of tea. I definitely don’t mind if you did, wouldn’t life be boring if we all liked the same things?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think you bring out many good points here! I think that I would say that I’m somewhat undecided on Jane Austen. I find her to be fascinating in many ways because I studied her so that I could be her for a wax museum project I had to participate in years ago but her writing always was a little too distant for me to thoroughly enjoy. Like you, I just couldn’t connect to her characters and, at times, plot dragged on horribly. Personally, I like Georgette Heyer’s regency novels better because I generally connect better with her characters (but not all of the time). I think that I would like to give Jane Austen another chance a few years from now but for now, I don’t really have any desire to try out any of her books any time soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve heard a lot about Georgette Heyer and I’ve got one of her novels on reserve from the library, so I’m hoping I’ll enjoy her a bit more!!
      Yeah, everyone always says that I’ll enjoy them more when I’m older, so I should try again then (I am the same/similar age to most of her female characters though, so I don’t see why I shouldn’t enjoy them now!) I’ll definitely give her a try again, but for now I’ll stay with Dickens 🙂
      Thanks for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. haha we seem to not agree much in terms of musicals and classical novels (with a few exceptions 😉).

    Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite Austen novels. I think it’s quite funny – some parts made me laugh out loud. however, I also grew up watching the BBC miniseries and watching the story unfold onscreen, which is a lot different than reading it. maybe that made me appreciate the book more when I was old enough to enjoy it? I don’t know.

    again, this is probably because I’ve seen it onscreen (and the movie with Kiera Knightley, which is, in my opinion, inferior to the miniseries with Jennifer Ehle), but I find it easy to connect with Elizabeth. unfortunately we’re quite similar 😛

    however I agree that it is a bit stale and unemotional and I respect your opinions that are different from mine

    on a more positive note – I also LOVED Jane Eyre. I plan to reread that one sometime soon 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    • My mother always says that it would be boring if everyone had the same opinions!
      I quite enjoyed the humour in it, and I must admit that I admire Elizabeth’s wits to a certain point. 🙂
      I saw the Knightly movie the other night and it was certainly a different experience to reading the book, but I didn’t really enjoy it (having said that, I saw the 2011 Jane Eyre movie, and while I love Jane Eyre and appreciated that it was a pretty good film, I found it pretty dull).
      I was going to say that I probably didn’t like Elizabeth that much was because she wasn’t the sort of person I would usually have as a friend, but then yous said that you and her are similar…and I like you! Very much, so please don’t be offended 🙂
      Anyway, I know there’s people who’ll disagree and I don’t mind! There are people who think my favourite books are dull or silly…
      Thanks for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

      • hmm, interesting. I started watching Jane Eyre (not sure if it was the 2011 version or not) but I never finished, so it’s good to know that for future reference 😊

        aww thank you so much!

        Liked by 1 person

    • I found it really boring. Super pretty and with a great atmosphere, but just generally dull. I don’t mind not a lot of action in books, but in movies I can’t stand it, hence why I liked reading Jane Eyre, but don’t really like watching it. I also didn’t think the actress got Jane quite right, but that was mostly just my opinion.
      🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • I feel like I might have been a bit harsh on poor Austen and I feel bad now 😦 But yes, I can get through boring bits, but overall I just found Pride and Prejudice boring. I prefer a bit more action!

      Like

  4. As we’ve already established, I love Jane Austen! But I just wanted to say that despite that fact, I would probably prefer Blakeney over Darcy too. I’ve always liked Knightley, from Emma, better than Darcy anyway 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • And that’s fine, 🙂 Some are Austen fans and some (like myself) are not, though I’m still going to read Sense and Sensibility and Northanger Abbey for my classics quest. A fellow preaching out our church the other day actually used Knightley in his sermon. “Badly done, Emma!” I honestly don’t like Mr Darcy very much, even after he has changed for the better, but then again, I’m very picky. I don’t like Mr Rochester from Jane Eyre either 😀
      Thanks for commenting!

      Like

  5. I grew up watching the BBC adaption of Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, so my perception of the story is difficult to articulate. I do enjoy the BBC adaption, but later I read the book and found it rather dull. I agree with you about the lack of emotion! I feel like the movie version has a bit more emotion because the actors were able to interpret the roles, but Jane Austen does not include any emotional context. As a book I found it pretty disappointing, and the movie actually improved upon it.
    I also had to read Emma for school, which was even more boring. I don’t even like the movie versions of Emma. I have no desire to ever read another book by Jane Austen. Emotion is very important to me, (I love Jane Eyre!) and Austen’s books are rather flat. My view on her books as that they are better as movies because the actors and directors and costume designers have a chance to breath life into the staleness of the words on the page. I wouldn’t say that about most books, but for these I am afraid it is true.
    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t seen the BBC version in a long time, like 10+years, so I can’t remember it all that well, but I thought the 2005 movie definitely ejected a lot more emotion into the story than the original novel had. In some parts, particularly when it was raining and they used storm clouds, it almost felt more like a Bronte movie than an Austen one.
      Yes, I definitely think you’re onto something there! I haven’t seen any of the other Austen movies, but that was my general experience too 😀
      Thanks for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I felt that Pride and Prejudice was good, but not for me personally. . . This is essentially scandalous in my family. The fact that I’m an English major only adds insult to injury.

    Like you, I didn’t feel as much connection with Elizabeth as I would like, though I suspect the reason why the story fell flat for me is my general lack of enthusiasm for most stories that center around romance as opposed to having a romantic subplot.

    This does not mean romantic books are bad. It just means I’m not the intended audience.

    I must admit that I actually do find gossip interesting, though my reasoning is much different than many people. I am listening for fascinating traits for my characters 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Super late reply here, Jacqueline. Please forgive me ;D

      What?? An English major who doesn’t like Pride and Prejudice. This is a SCANDAL! 😛 And yes, I definitely agree, I don’t mind a bit of romance when it’s a subplot, but I really don’t do romance centred novels. I’m here for Dickens and Hugo, not Austen (though I’ve read a few different Bronte books, and I’ve enjoyed those). And yeah, I can understand that there are some people who love romance…I’m just not one of them!

      Ah, true. Gossip is a good place to turn for little character quirks. I never thought of it that way 😀

      Thanks for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

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