Thursday, October 4, 2012

Reader Question #10: Jane Austen vs. Charles Dickens

And after a little hiatus, I'm back to doing Reader Questions! This question came to me from Violet from Violets and Daisies. Violet asked:

I was just wondering why it is that so many people seem to read/watch lots about Jane Austen (particularly in all the blogs I've discovered), but very few seem to prefer Charles Dickens and period dramas based on his books? I guess it is all down to personal preference, but I just always wonder why it is that way when I personally prefer his writing over hers. Any thoughts on this?

I haven't read much of Dickens, so I may have to rely on the different adaptations of his books for this answer.

But like you said, it probably all comes down to personal preference. Each writer is different and has different characteristics in their writing/story telling style that people either love, like, or don't like.

Now, me personally, I prefer Jane Austen to Charles Dickens. Not that I would be opposed to watch/read a story by Dickens (on the contrary, I rather like a couple of Dickens period dramas: Little Dorrit (2008) and Bleak House (2005) are the ones that come to mind), but I just like Jane Austen better. One of the reasons is that I think Jane Austen's characters are more realistic and relatable to life, while with Dickens his characters are meant to be caricatures. It's not that I don't like Dickens's characters that are caricatures, but some of them can be a little strange. Another reasons why I like Jane Austen better is that her books have more of a lighthearted tone to them compared to some of Dickens's works. I tend to like stories that have a more light-hearted tone to them than ones that are more serious or sadder.

But either way, I have to agree with you Violet: it all comes down to personal preference.

What do you think? Can you think of any reasons why a lot of people prefer Jane Austen to Charles Dickens? Which author do you prefer? Why? Leave a comment!

Thank you, Violet, for sending in your 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. I've only recently started reading the austen books *embarrassed face* only seen the dramatizations. I've read one dickens (our mutual friend) and found it such a chore to get through. I don't like his prose style. Much prefer the tv adaptations.
    I think Austen is 'lighter', Dickens can be a bit depressing IMO.

  2. I think the scale is probably part of it, too - Austen's works tend to be more self-contained, with a small cast of characters who interact with each other, while Dickens's books have lots of characters and sub-sub-plots and such.

    The fact that Austen wrote whole books for publication and Dickens was writing in installments has a lot to do with it.

  3. I especially agree with your second point...Austen tends to be lighter to read. I know that's at least some of why I prefer her -- most of her stories, especially P&P and Emma, are lighthearted and cheerful and bright. There aren't many huge tragedies. Dickens, on the other hand, often has dark setting and the nitty-gritty of life. Personally, I prefer cheerful happy things. :) I would guess that's the way most people are. Don't take me wrong...I enjoy Dickens and he gives an awesome perspective on London/England 1800s life. But Austen is more for me. :)

  4. As for me, I love both authors, but I grew up reading Dickens, and I only just began reading Austen a few years ago (I think I was fourteen). I deeply enjoy Dickens style and the deeper meanings behind his stories that can be discovered through careful reading and digging into the words. A Christmas Carol is one of my very favorite books, as is A Tale of Two Cities. When I was little, I loved Oliver Twist and David Copperfield (and still do). I do, however, enjoy the lightheartedness of Jane Austen's work, and Dickens is often a great deal darker, so when I'm in the mood for something light, I'll reach for Austen, and when I'm in the mood for something darker and weightier, I'll reach for Dickens.(: but as you said, it's all a matter of personal preference!


  5. I think it's because Jane Austen's writing appeals more to women. There's the clothing, social life, and romances that have a lot more potential to blog about. Her writing 'aesthetic' if you will is even something you can incorporate into your personal fashion; elegance, refinement, femininity, etc. With Dickens, on the other hand, it's all about the characters and the plot. His books make for exciting reads that you can really immerse yourself in, but they don't result in the obsession with the period and style like Jane Austen's books do.

  6. Thanks for answering my question, Miss Elizabeth Bennet! I must say, I will always prefer Dickens, but maybe it's time I read more of Jane Austen's books!!! :)

  7. I enjoy reading both Austen and Dickens immensely--but if I had to choose one over the other, I'd choose Austen, because her style impresses and entertains me the most of the two. :)

  8. It is simple why JANE AUSTEN is "more" universally read and loved more than CHARLES DICKENS. Dickens to me, strikes to me as a regular guy. He is simple, and transparent. As For my Austen, she is quite the opposite. She is not a boy, she is not simple, but complicated. Hyper intelligent, self introspective, witty and a genius. She is mysterious versus transparent. We have countless of bio about her, letters about her, six novels, and she is still a mystery. You learn something new every time you read her novels, even though for the one thousand, five hundred and thirty eight times. But most importantly, the reason Austen is well read more than Dickens is that--she sold as sweet instead of sweet and sour. Dickens sold us the reality of poverty, cruelty, love and friendship. Austen simply skipped the down right dirty reality of poverty and just elevated us from middle class to hopefully upper class. She basically sold us sweets and cakes, he fed us dirt, but ultimately saved us just in time with a sudden inheritance from no where. In a nut shell, one promised us a future sweet, but before we tasted the dirty sourness. The other skipped all the Sadomasochism and elevated us to sweet land. Be honest, do you want a Darcy land of 10 thousand pounds or another world of unspecified currency amount?


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