Written By Arti of Ripple Effects Does art imitate life or does life imitate art or…neither? After reading Claire Tomalin and Carol Shields on the life of Jane Austen, I am inclined to draw that conclusion. The often sanguine outlook of Austen’s works is deceptive. The seemingly jovial ending may lead some to assume they are reading the simplistic stories of a woman wrapped in romantic bliss all her life. Reality is, that Austen could persevere, write and be published was already an incredible achievement considering the confining social environment she was in. Instead of embracing the normative female role in comfort, she chose to tread the road less traveled to become a writer despite the gloomy prospect of poor spinsterhood, enduring rejection even from her own mother. She wrote in secret and struggled in isolation. For a long period she battled depression. Upon her death, her beloved sister Cassandra could not attend her funeral because the presence of females at such events were not sanctioned, apparently for fear of any outbursts of emotion. It is Austen’s imagination that empowers her to break free of her reality and to rise above her constraints. She has created her art from the palette of imagination, as Tomalin has lucidly observed: “Hampshire is missing from the novels, and none of the Austens’ neighbours, exotic, wicked or merely amusing, makes recognizable appearance. The world of her imagination was separate and distinct from the world she inhabited.” Austen’s contemporary, the renowned Gothic writer Ann
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