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Article: Jane Austen's Wise Wit

Jane Austen's Wise Wit -

Jane Austen's Wise Wit

"It is your turn to say something now, Mr. Darcy.-I talked about the dance, and you ought to make some kind of remark on the size of the room, or the number of couples." - Pride and Prejudice Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet

With this tongue-in-cheek admonishment, so like that of a dancing master hired to prepare Darcy for society, begins one of the greatest romances in literature. What is it that gives Jane Austen's writing such timeless appeal? For me, and many others I have spoken to, it is her keen observation of human nature tempered by humour and the ultimate romance of the playful, witty repartee between her hero and heroine.

So often movies and books that are presented as romantic lack an essential element of romance- witty repartee. Perhaps this is due to the high level of difficulty in composing humour that works. It is no wonder that Jane Austen's work would be so popular at a moment when there is a lack of wit and humour in romantic entertainment. Playfulness and wit are something we all look for in our romantic attachments. How often has a female friend described the new man in her life to you as someone who makes her laugh? We all seem to be looking for someone to share a few laughs with on the road of life. There is also something so alluring about being intellectually engaged with another which can only be heightened by the addition of humour. Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy

Jane Austen's keen eye for the ridiculous in the foible's of human nature seems to be shared by the lively Elizabeth Bennet. We chuckle when Elizabeth is likely at some pains to keep a straight face at Lady Catherine's dinner table when Sir William Lucas dutifully echoes every compliment to Lady Catherine by his sycophant son-in-law Mr. Collins. We all share in Elizabeth's embarrassment at her misjudgments and foolishness in being taken in by Wickham and letting her hurt pride rule her opinion of Darcy. Austen's heroines are so realistically written that we grow to know and love them as friends. The heroines all have the standard issue silly relatives and the ubiquitous family problems that come with them. These character types are certainly familiar to all of us, but presented with such wit that we must now smile at the unbearable co-worker who is so like one of Austen's characters.

Sharon Wagoner is the webmistress of The Georgian Index. Visit her site for a treasure trove of little known information about the Georgian period. A fascinating collection! Enjoyed this article? Browse our book shop 

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