Jane Austen is a………

It’s 30 minutes to midnight on the East Coast the night before I am supposed to post my Jane Austen blog post…which I haven’t been writing…because I’m a procrastinator.

The pressure is on, because everyone else on the blog has managed to post smart, thoughtful and witty stuff.


Desperate for material, I turn to Google and ask the almighty search engine what to write about Jane Austen. But I get this:


Really? The top result for “Jane Austen is a” ends in MORALIST?

English is my second language, so just to be safe, I look up moralist in the dictionary.

Yep, it’s what I think – a person who preaches morality. (Cue yawn.)

Jane Austen’s heroines are often tested by a more superficial path, but do they reside in moral tales?

Still, being on the “slacker” end of the academic Austen, I figure I’m in no position to judge for myself. I decide to compare what she writes against what famous and noted moralists write.

I don’t know any moralists, so I ask Google to give me a list of famous moralists. After convincing Google that no, I do not mean famous muralists, I get a list, pick the first one (Blaise Pascal) and dump his words into Wordle to see which words pop up most.

(For those who don’t know what a Wordle is: it’s an image representation of the most used words in a text sample.)

The results:


(Take a moment…in addition to the obvious things I’m also tickled by how “etc” pops up.)

Then I test Austen:



See any similarities?

NOPE. You don’t.

With Austen:

  1. Her heroines are the clear winner. They dominate every Wordle. No surprise.
  2. Her heroes come next, but we all know in a Jane Austen novel even being second billing is pretty great.

  3. Much, Must, and Might. Three words which bring to mind yearning, obligation, and feeling – exactly what I love about her stories.

So a moralist? Maybe. But if I’d had my way I would have finished the sentence differently.

Jane Austen is an author.
Jane Austen is a romantic.
Jane Austen is a feminist. (See Regina’s post for more on this!)
Jane Austen is awesome.
Jane Austen is…….?

21 Responses to Jane Austen is a………

  1. Jane Austen is… INSPIRING!

    Wordies are fun. 🙂

    Of interest also, when I plugged into Google and got the “is a moralist” guess, was three pages of articles and books written on the subject! From “Logic Matters” and “Philosophy Now” to name a couple. I suppose I can see where she wrote of proper virtues, so in that respect was upholding morals. But of all the possibilities to come first in a Google search, that isn’t what I would have expected either!

  2. Jane Austen is timeless. She is timeless because within her stories and characters she unravels the emotional DNA that makes people tick. The good the bad and the ugly, in a time when class structure was often stacked against a smart woman of modest means. In Elizabeth we see a modern woman who matched whits and heart toe to toe with the best of them. So much so that she bewitched the best of them in Darcy and brought his world crashing down around him amidst the thunder of his beating love struck heart. Its truly a story of love and courage . She is timeless and she is also relevant.

  3. I agree that Jane Austen is all those. I will add that Jane Austen is a humorist. Some of her characters’ foibles make you . Mr. Collins’ pontificating, Mrs. Bennet’s nerves, and Mary’s sermonizing are just examples.

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