You Really Need To Read Jane Austen's Books

You Really Need To Read Jane Austen's Books

It's been 200 years. It's time.
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Whenever I suggest to anyone that they read Jane Austen’s novels, which I admit is quite often, I am usually met with hesitation and reluctance. For those of you who may not know, I am referring to Jane Austen’s six finished books: "Pride and Prejudice," "Sense and Sensibility," "Emma," "Persuasion," "Northanger Abbey" and "Mansfield Park." Although not a series themselves, they still manage to tie with the "Harry Potter" series for my favorite set of books; I have never been able to understand why some people are so decidedly against reading Austen’s works. They seem to be under the impression that these novels are only comprised of tea parties and bonnets, and although tea is occasionally sipped — they're English books, come on — and bonnets are sometimes worn, they are so much more than that.

For one thing, each of these books feature multiple realistic and well-written female characters. Just like any living woman, each of Austen’s characters have their flaws and strengths. This should by no means be an oddity, but even today, it is unfortunately far too rare to see realistically written fictional women. Austen gave her characters real-life circumstances and problems that her heroines were forced to deal with in human ways.

The witty and clever humor that makes up 99.99 percent of these novels is also a huge plus. I will never understand people who dismiss older literature without so much as a glance with the excuse that it is “boring.” The famous opening line of "Pride and Prejudice" — “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” — is so full of wit and social satire that it tells the reader right off the bat that they are in for an entertaining read.

Austen’s work is also sneakily adaptable. After all, who doesn't love a good love story? Even if you aren’t aware of it, you are probably a fan of at least one of Austen’s stories. For example, "Bridget Jones’s Diary" and maybe more obviously "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" are both based off of Jane Austen’s most famous novel, "Pride and Prejudice." Similarly, if you have ever seen the 1995 cult-classic, "Clueless," then you are very familiar with the plot line of Austen’s fifth novel, "Emma," of which it is based. Something about Austen’s writing makes it timeless and adaptable for any age.

As much as you may enjoy "Clueless," if you are at all interested in history and anthropology, you really ought to read the original story. None of Austen’s books are actually non-fiction pieces, nor are they based on any real events. However, being written and set between 1798 and 1816, these novels are not only able to give readers an insight into how people of many different social classes lived and acted 200 odd years ago, but are also full of references to different historical events of the time. Austen’s writing helps you realize that although circumstances of life may change throughout history, people have always been very much the same at any given time. Not only does society seem to always have been obsessed with love, money, class and marriage, but there also seems never to have been a lack of ridiculous people to worry about these things.

All in all, I highly suggest that you give these books a chance. The fact that these stories are still being told and delighted in 200 years after their conception is astounding. There is so much that can be learned and enjoyed by reading classic literature, and it would be a shame to miss out on any bit of it.

Cover Image Credit: www.alwayscatholic.com

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What Your Hogwarts House Says About You

Get yourself sorted and find out where you belong in the world of witchcraft and wizardry.
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Sorting at Hogwarts is a big deal. Being sorted into a house is essentially being placed into a family while you are away from home learning about witchcraft and wizardry. Your house is made up of the people you will live with, go to classes with, play Quidditch with and everything in between. You basically spend 24/7 with them. Your Hogwarts house is your home away from home.

When you get sorted into a house, it is based on your personality traits. The people in your house are typically like-minded people who display the same characteristics as you.

When you’re a first year at Hogwarts, the minute you set foot in the castle you are swept into the Great Hall to have the ancient Sorting Hat placed on your head. This Sorting Hat decides which “family” you’ll be spending your seven years with.

For some, it is very obvious which house they will be in, due to certain personality traits they possess. For others, they may exemplify traits that fit a multitude of houses and are uncertain where they may end up.

To find out where you belong, you can take the official "Harry Potter" Sorting Hat quiz at Pottermore.com. For all you muggles out there, these are the characteristics that the houses possess and what your house says about you:

Gryffindor: The house of the brave, loyal, courageous, adventurous, daring and chivalrous. Those who stand up for others are typically Gryffindors. Brave-hearted is the most well-known Gryffindor characteristic, and Gryffindors are also known for having a lot of nerve.

Gryffindors are people who hold a multitude of qualities alongside the ones listed, making them a very well-rounded house. People who are Gryffindors are often people who could fit nicely into another house but choose to tell the sorting hat they want Gryffindor (there's that bravery). "Do what is right" is the motto Gryffindors go by.

Being a Gryffindor means that you're probably the adventurous and courageous friend, and you are usually known for doing what is right.

Ravenclaw: The house is known for their wisdom, intelligence, creativity, cleverness and knowledge. Those who value brains over brawn can be found here. Ravenclaws often tend to be quite quirky as well. "Do what is wise" is the motto they strive to follow.

Though Ravenclaws can be know-it-alls sometimes, they most likely do know what the wisest decision is.

If you are known for being the quirky friend, the smartest in the group or just great at making wise decisions, you're definitely a Ravenclaw.

Hufflepuff: This house values hard work, dedication, fair play, patience, and loyalty. Hufflepuff’s are known for being just and true. "Do what is nice" is their motto.

Hufflepuff is known as the “nice house” and believes strongly in sparing peoples feelings and being kind. This is not to say that Hufflepuffs aren't smart or courageous. Hufflepuffs just enjoy making others happy and tend to be more patient towards people.

If you ever find that you are too nice for your own good and cannot bear to hurt someone’s feelings, congratulations, you are a Hufflepuff.

Slytherin: This is the house of the cunning, prideful, resourceful, ambitious, intelligent, and determined. Slytherin's love to be in charge and crave leadership. "Do what is necessary" is the motto of this house.

Slytherin is a fairly well-rounded house, similar to the other houses. They are loyal to those that are loyal to them just as Gryffindors are and are intelligent as Ravenclaws.

Slytherin house as a whole is not evil, despite how many dark wizards come out of this house. That is merely based on the choices of those wizards (so if your friend is a Slytherin, don’t judge, it doesn’t mean they are mean people). Slytherins do, however, have a tendency to be arrogant or prideful. This is most likely due to the fact that everyone in Slytherin is exceedingly proud to be there.

What Hogwarts house you’re in says a lot about the person you are, the traits you possess and how you may act in some situations. But in the end, your house is really just your home that is always there for you. Always.


Cover Image Credit: Warner Bros Pictures

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How Art Can Help You Take Care Of Yourself

It's time to go on a date with yourself.

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Art is a quintessential part of the human experience: it has something that has been present in human culture beginning from prehistoric times, from when human consciousness first entered the world. It is also something that transcends definition and intertwines with our play of life and the meaning of humanity. Art is an expression of feeling in its most ethereal meaning and "for fun" at its most basic.

Personally, as an Art History minor, art has been a dimension of life for me that I have explored deeply and holds a lot of meaning. Painting is a huge outlet and way to deal with stress for me, and appreciating fine art teaches me about the aspect of history and how all of history is tied together throughout paintings, sculptures, and photographs. It helps me center myself and remind me of the place I hold in this world and the curious aspect personal experience of history. However, art doesn't need to be the stereotypical idea of art: it can be expressed through dance, the learning of a new language, or the coloring of mandalas to ease stress.

The exploration of art and the artistic side of human nature is something that everyone has in them: it's written in our psychology. We have an entire side of our brain that is inclined toward feeling and abstract interpretation, so it's natural to assume that emotion and expression of art are intrinsically intertwined. Thus, experiencing art is a way to personally develop yourself, and can be an unfound way of finding out things about yourself.

Different ways to explore your artistic side can be very easy: as easy as 3rd-grade coloring books, coloring mandalas, or finger-painting. Recently, I participated in a lantern festival and being able to paint a small lantern was an amazing outlet from a stress-filled week and allowed me to express myself through something besides just communication. Writing is also another good way to express emotion and create art: many books are just art pieces, and can be another way to further develop yourself. Additionally, other small fun things like carving pumpkins (spooky season!) or even curating the perfect Instagram profile can be another way to express yourself.

Appreciating the small things in your life as art and self-expression help put you more in touch with yourself, which is easy to lose throughout the mundane cycles of college, work, and life in general. Keeping yourself in harmony and balance might seem like an earthy-crunchy concept, but self-care and self-love are vital in keeping the rest of your life ordered. Being mindful of yourself and your goals is something that I have always have had difficulty with, but working toward learning more about yourself is taking the first step.

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