Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Reader Question #7: Jane Austen and Charles Dickens's Faults

This question comes from Kiri Liz from Lianne Taimenlore. Kiri Liz asked:

What do you think Jane Austen's worst fault was as a writer? Charles Dickens's worst fault? And what, in your opinion, could they have done to remedy that fault?
Jane Austen's fault as a writer?! Impossible!

I'm kidding! Jane Austen was human, like the rest of us, so she wasn't perfect *begrudgingly admits*. As much as I love Jane Austen, I would have to say that her worst fault as a writer is the way she sometimes writes her sentences. I'm going to try to explain it as best as I can. There are some sentences that could have, say, three parts to them. In this sentence, it could be structured this way:

Key: In order to understand the key, I have divided the parts of the sentence into parts. So, the first number in the sequence is the Sentence Part, while the second number is the part of the sentence part, if that makes any sense. So 1.1 would be 1st sentence part and 1st part of that sentence part.

1.1, 2.1, 3, 2.2, 1.2

Because of this, I sometimes have to read a sentence a couple of times to understand how Part 3 related to Part 1. It takes some getting used to, but once you get used to it, it's not that big of a deal.

Jane Austen could have remedied it probably by breaking up her sentences that do this into two sentences or by keeping the sentence parts together. This isn't something she did with every single sentence, but it does come up.

Now, with Dickens, I haven't read as much of Dickens as I should. But going off the miniseries that I have seen, his stories can get a little complicated. When my mom, my sister, and I watched Little Dorrit, we were a bit confused by the ending when you find out what Mrs. Clennam's secret was, so my sister ended up going to Wikipedia to figure out what just happened. 

I can't say how he could remedy this... In Little Dorrit and Bleak House, I loved how the stories were complicated. And the complicated endings could be with the miniseries themselves and not necessarily Dickens. Maybe he explains things better in his books. I can't say for certain.

What do you think? What is Jane Austen's worst fault as a writer? What about Dickens? How could they have remedied them? Leave a comment!

Thank you Kiri Liz for suggesting this question. If you have a question you would like to submit for me to do a post on, leave a comment. Just follow these guidelines. It can be about anything related to this blog: period dramas, blogging, reviews, etc.

 God Bless,
God Bless, Miss Elizabeth Bennet


  1. Dickens could probably have remedied it by finishing before publication - the twistiness and endings make total sense when you think about him working month to month. If he'd sat down and written and then gone back through with an editor to make sure it was coherent, I feel like Little Dorrit would make so much more sense.

    1. That's is so true! I hadn't thought about that! Thank you!

  2. What an interesting question! I have to agree with you about JA's sentences. They definitely get you to stop and think!

    I had a question about regency fashion. I don't think so, but were sleeveless gowns historically accurate to the times? I saw an example on Miss Bingley in P&P 2005 at the dance and took a second look when I saw that dress. I know that movie definitely had some historically incorrect points about it so I wondered. It doesn't seem like it would be period correct. Also, did you notice that almost all of the ladies were dressed in white for the Bingleys' dance? Was white a particularly fashionable color?

    1. From what I read of sleeveless dresses in the Regency Era, they existed but only showed up in paintings and weren't representative of what women actually wore. So in the case of Miss Bingley's Netherfield Ball gown in P&P 2005, yes, that was inaccurate. Her gown looked more like a Regency petticoat to me (in fact, it looks similar to the one I made only the shoulder straps on mine were thicker).

      A while ago, I read an article at the Jane Austen Center's website titled "The Importance of Wearing White". In that article, it said that wearing white was always stylish and women could always wear a white gown to be fashionable. So (and this is my assumption) it wouldn't be far fetched to see quite a few ladies at a ball wearing white.

      Thanks for asking this question! I had fun answering it! :-)

    2. Oh, did you mean this as a Reader Question? If you did, I may write up a more detailed response in a reader question post.

    3. Thank you for the answers! Perhaps I did mean a reader question, sorry, I should have been more specific. If you have more to say on this I would love to read more about it!

      ~ Miss Elizabeth

    4. I'll get to work on the post right now!

  3. Haha! Thanks for answering my question! I realize it really wan't nice to assume faults of Jane Austen, but it was fun thinking up something slightly alarming! ;)

    Sentence structure... I actually had the same thought!! I love how some things are worded (i.e. the first sentence in P&P), but then there are certain things that you have to read two or three times to fully understand it.

    I haven't read much of Dickens either (which I am trying to remedy!), but I wondered what you thought of him. Yes, his stories are complicated, which I like, but I do feel like in some of the miniseries, they really hurry the ending so some things are left unresolved which, in turn, leaves you unsatisfied.


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