Why Does Jane Austen Have Such a Cult Following?
After all. Her stories are full of whiny bitches and passive aggressive drama. It’s not like the women do anything fun like lose their virginity to the hottie at the bar, or smoke joints. There’s never any police chases or gang violence. So, what gives?
Because Jane Austen is a bad ass bitch.
She made daring statements within her writing. Austen’s opening line of Pride and Prejudice is renowned:
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
She’s poking fun at the fact that higher society was obsessed with socially advantageous marriage during the Georgian era. In other words, marry for the sake of improving your situation, not a silly thing like love.
Jane Austen is famous for developing a unique point of view in writing. She uses a third person point of view through the eyes of one character. In plain speak? Even though the story is mostly told through one character, that character telling the tale has insight into the whole of every other characters’ lives.
Jane Austen featured female characters who went against the norm and lived their truth. Ideals for women which certainly weren’t in vogue at the time.
Austen and Bath
Another huge reason for the adoration of Austen? The settings within her novels are what we all secretly dream about.
They take place in England during the Georgian/Regency era. Austen frequently transports us to 19th century balls. Women dress in beautiful muted colors of ball length gowns and long evening gloves. Men appear in their most dashing suits or formal Regency military attire. Men say things to young women like, “May I have this dance?” Speak of which, the dances are all choreographed and respectable. There was no twerking in the time of Austen.
The author takes us to a time of dressing up for afternoon tea and delicate yet delicious pastries. Through her work we wander through whispering green blowing in the wind and the quiet bubbling of brooks and rivers. She walks us through quaint farms and flower gardens. People are often polite to one another and formal. However, gossip and betrayal are conducted discreetly through society’s important social circles.
Save for the gossip and betrayal, so much of these images can be found in Bath, England. At least two of her novels are set there.
Jane Austen Centre Walk About
Austen set plenty of her writings in Bath. She lived there, and the environment influenced much of her writing. Therefore, the Jane Austen Centre came into existence.
Before you even enter the museum, you have the opportunity to greet some statues outside. Afterwards, you buy your tickets in the gift shop.
Following the purchase, you are ushered into a beautiful room to watch a short video on the life of Jane Austen. After which, a guide in period costume gives guests so history about Austen and her family.
Guests are given the opportunity to look at several portraits which are thought to be Jane, but cannot be proved. There is only one portrait of Jane that exists, done by her sister. Therefore, even experts aren’t sure what she looks like, which means she might very well look like half unicorn and half ice cream truck.
When you visit the museum, there is a life sized wax figure of what Jane Austen is thought to look like. If it truly captures be likeness, she has a plain type of beauty that I think any reader of her works would come to expect.
There are plenty of exhibits to learn about the life of Austen in Bath. You can also see excerpts from letters and novels written by Austen. You are also able to see outfits and artwork from the time of Austen!
Playing Dress Up and Make Believe
The best part of the experience is the opportunity to dress up in Regency era clothing and pose with the arrogant hunk himself…MR DARCY!
You can also try your hand at quill writing as Austen would have done in days long ago.
Shop til you Drop
For any Jane Austen fan, the gift shop is a mecca of anything related to the author and her works that you could possibly need or want. There are bedding sets, jewelry, totebags, cocktail recipe books – all inspired by Austen and the era in which she lived and wrote. Many of the items have quotes from her characters. I got myself a tote bag that says, I love Mr Darcy. I also got Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett Christmas ornaments!
We only had a few hours in Bath as this stop was part of a full day tour of England. So, we did not get to enjoy tea time. However, the centre offers afternoon tea in its Regency Tea Room. Wait staff dressed in period costumes provide a fun and elegant high tea experience complete with a choice of a plethora of treats and 15 options of loose leaf tea.
Not only did I learn about Jane Austen on my trip to England. I followed Shakespeare’s ghost as well! Click here to read about it!