How Jane Austen’s Novels Changed the Way We Perceive Love

Love is the enterprise that starts with tremendous hopes and expectations and fails perennially. In our cultural mythology, we grew up knowing that there is one man who is only made for us, the perfect one. Love strikes us hard with the arrow-like manner right in the heart. Knowing to love someone with all our hearts is the human excellence only handful of us possesses. The entire idea of loving, however, is manifested through fairy tales and the romantic novels based against the backdrop of Victorian era where there were happily-ever-afters, no looking for transitory happiness or pursuit of hollow physical pleasure. Our minds still belong to the century because today’s love is intertwined with frustration.

‘I am half agony, half hope’ and there is no logical explanation of how love sweeps us off our feet once we find the true one. In this age, when we are constantly searching for love, a love-thirsty soul should always leaf through the pages of Jane Austen’s masterpieces which have incandescent examples that teach us much more clearly the nuances of love and how it affects the heart while a scientist will parade you with facts about blood pumping, clenching and contouring if you asked him how the heart works. Love changes the way it works and no one knows how.

The life-blood of our existence is waiting for the perfect man in our dreams but when reality strikes, we come to realise there is no such person and we have to make amends with whatever we got. Being faced with the hardcore reality, we turned to literature for refuge, literature such as Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’.  Back then, in our teens looked like just another love story, but later we realized it taught us that ‘perfect’ only exists in our minds.

Unlike Shakespeare, who explained love in verse and meter, Jane Austen taught us love can be broken and mended and that it is not beyond harm, by putting us through the perfectly set dinner tables, all the guests knowing how to cut their meat correctly and everything ostensive. Love bloomed there too, the profound, pristine kind.

Take for instance, the protagonists of Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet and Mr.Darcy. Elizabeth was an intelligent, witty, inexorable feminist who falls in love with the very stoic, arrogant, proud and handsome Mr. Darcy. They both were flawed in some way or the other but dealt with their fallacies anyway and agree to marry each other. But then Jane Austen never sketched the happily-ever-after picture and left room for guessing that their marriage may be rocky and they may have dealt with the atrocities together.

Jane Austen’s novels always inflict chaos in the minds of its characters in an orderly world. Her novels are always a revelation for us in the tender years. It is how to perpetuate our love by dealing with each other’s prides and prejudices that matter the most. Love is all about accepting and understanding each other and growing through those topsy-turvy experiences.



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