Classical Childrens Books

Jane Austen Books

How do Jane Austen's books fit in the 21st Century? Should they be read for entertainment or studied as classics?

Austen's books have a tendency to be preferred by female readers (not always true - of course) as well as by those who enjoy romances and settings that pre-date the modern world with its phones, computers and cars.

Below we have listed some of the themes and literary analysis topics to consider.

The Book Vs The Movie

Many of Austen's stories have been turned into movies. Do yourself a favor and read the books before watching the movies. It will be a double treat.

Jane Austen Novels

Pride and Prejudice

The ORIGINAL Soap Opera

Elizabeth Bennett and her four sisters all come of age at the same time. The pride of a particular bachelor results in prejudicial feelings of them all against him.

It takes the entire book with multiple romances, mishaps, scandals, and misunderstandings before they work out their differences. An amazing feat considering they obtained no help from the social values of the time or the lack of guidance from a cynical father and superficial mother.

The story is filled with humorous statements and come-backs (Elizabeth being a real zing-thrower for her time and gender) as well as satire of the landed gentry.

Reading Pride and Prejudice

I recommend the modern reader read it twice - once to get the plot and the second time to catch all the humor and insults. Seriously, buy a cheap or used copy, and while reading it the second time, mark all the passages with wit and satire. You would have a great notebook for an essay entitled "The Satire of Jane Austen."

Literary Analysis for Individuals or Groups

For readers and discussion group leaders interested in further analysis of the plot, here are some good starting points:

Mansfield Park

Mansfield Park is a bit of a Cinderella story with a passive, quiet girl named "Fanny" playing the center role. As a ten year old she is transported from the home of her impoverished parents to the manor of her wealthy aunt and uncle. There she is all but forgotten as she quietly acquieses to the idea that she must always defer to her betters.

Although quite quickly you learn that her "betters" are not morally superior to Fanny. She remains the quiet and predictable character in a stage of social climbing and manipulative acting. As her cousins and friends decide to stage a questionable theatrical performance, Fanny remains obstinant in her refusal to join them, certain of her uncle's disapproval of their plans. In the end, she faces the ire of her uncle because she cannot go along with a marriage proposal for similar moral reasons. Like all Cinderella stories it comes off in Fanny's favor, and she gets Prince Charming who also happens to play the role of her fairy godmother (or godcousin - anyway.)

Literary Themes

This is a story with no terrible villains or highly acclaimed heros and heroines. Instead, it is real people with a variety of faults and motivations, acting out their lives on a closed stage.

Questions to Explore

Ready To Use Resources

Literature Unit Study Box Literature Unit Study Box Literature Unit Study Box

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