She’s very funny

Jane Austen is a great comic writer. The formal language of 200 years ago might make you think her novels are quite serious – but this isn’t the case! Jane Austen had a dry, wicked sense of humour and her novels are full of satire, comedy and wit.

Some of the jokes rely on an understanding of the social context – such as a joke that runs throughout Northanger Abbey, in which Austen ruthlessly parodies the entire gothic genre (sensational tales of mystery and horror) so popular at the time she was writing.

Elsewhere, her characters supply the comedy. They are silly, self-satisfied, vain, proud and affected. Such people cannot escape being laughed at. As Mr Bennet declares in Pride & Prejudice:

‘For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?’