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Jane Austen: Literature’s OG Girlboss

Writing over six complete novels, each taking 18th-century patriarchal-sectarian literature by storm, Jane Austen has dawned the title “The OG Girl Boss”. Austen’s ability to paint a vivid story with mere words not only gave readers a lively visual but also fed sensations familiar to the human experience. Her writing provides relatable insight into emotions and events similar to the reader. Not many writers had the depth of providing insight the reader could both reflect on and further relate to societal values around them. Austen’s work is directly reflective of events happening at the time of her writing the story. That is what is so beautiful about her work; she is able to take events and experiences happening at the time and translate them with a different plot, yet make it equally just as vivid. 

Inspiring Fiction

Austen’s literary work, like in Pride and Prejudice, allows the audience to see where Austen details raw human experiences. One example is the main character, Elizabeth Bennet, choosing to pursue her truest self rather than conform to the societal pressures consuming her sisters and other women around her. Elizabeth found meaning in other pursuits, which was reflective of Austen’s ambitions at the time. Austen in reality rejected the soft-spoken and delicate manner expected of women in her generation. Other female characters Austen has written have served as inspiration for other feminist icons we have today and forward. 

How Does it Relate to Today’s Feminist Lens?

Austenmania, however, did not gain momentum until the ‘90s after large TV corporations were detailed and inspired by her works.  Making it more digestible for a public audience to get introduced to her work. Once the 20th century became exposed to her work, readers realized Austen was challenging misogynistic social norms. 

How does this influence today’s generation? One answer: the girl boss phenomenon. Women of this generation have become influential in how they challenge gender and social norms without apology. Austen’s writings have alluded to just that. When people are introduced to her writing style, it is quite satirical, witty, realistic, and challenging. It is everything a woman was seen incapable of over two centuries ago. Often in her writing the characters that possess these qualities are alienated, however, today this is looked at as admirable. Many young women in this generation are compelled to speak out for change in social, political, personal, and environmental issues due to similar influences of Austen. 

Girl Boss It Out

Austen was seen as a trailblazer in feminism in which Austen prioritized her passion for writing about real issues over following societal roles in marriage and family. Although radical feminism is not outlined in bold scarlet letters in her works, her characters’ lack of conformity, the charge of humor, and intellect reveal a badass female narrative: every woman has the ability to discover their inner girl boss. 

Let us know what inspires your female empowerment by tagging us @HerCampusSJSU!

20 year old Kinesiology student at SJSU looking to explore writing as a creative outlet.
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