All posts by ananya111222

A student with a penchant for writing

The unattainable American Dream: The great gatsby

“He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.”

-Socrates

The American dream, a term coined by James Truslow Adams in his 1931 bestseller “Epic of America”, is the belief that anyone can achieve success if they work hard enough, regardless of their class or status. The dream of a land where life is better for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. However, as the years have passed the American dream has become more and more materialistic. Nowadays, people have impulsive and reckless habits, and they are never satisfied. No matter how much they have, they just keep aiming for more. This critique of the American dream was provided in F Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 classic, “The Great Gatsby”.

Set in the Roaring Twenties, a few years after the first World War, the book begins with the narrator, Nick Carraway, a Yale alumnus and a war veteran, arriving in New York City, and renting a bungalow in the West Egg. This bungalow was next to the luxurious estate of Jay Gatsby, a mysterious multimillionaire and war veteran. The 20s were an interesting time for America. The young were rebellious, jazz was gaining popularity and the economy was prospering. The way society was living was reckless, and Fitzgerald foreshadowed that disaster was bound to happen. Sure enough, in 1929 the infamous Wall Street Crash put a stop to the economic prosperity of America.

Getting back to the novel, Nick observed that Gatsby had stretched out his arm in the direction of a mysterious green light coming from the end of a dock, reaching for something far off. This conveys the idea that no matter how much people possess, they always want more. Gatsby was the personification of the unattainable American Dream. He came from nothing and built his way up into the high society, earning his wealth through crime. Yet, he was never satisfied with what he had and failed to realise how hollow and empty his dream had become. When his ex-lover Daisy, who had gotten married to Tom Buchanan when Gatsby was deployed overseas, told him that she loved him, Gatsby wasn’t satisfied. He still wanted her to say that she never loved her husband. He always desired more and projected his version of the perfect American dream onto Daisy. When Daisy couldn’t bear the weight of his never-ending desires, she chose to stay with Tom, and his inability to win her love shattered his dream. This moment also set the stage for the novel’s tragic ending.

In the book, Gatsby was known for throwing glamorous parties at his lavish mansion which everyone attended, regardless of whether they were invited or not. Each week he had thousands of guests over, but he never formed a bond with anyone of them. His only companion throughout the book was Nick, although it is argued that he was only friends with him to get to Daisy, Nick’s cousin. 

After his death, only a handful of people attended his funeral, including Nick. All his former acquaintances had disappeared, and Daisy and Tom had moved away. Fitzgerald conveyed that the American dream had made people selfish, and criticised the lifestyle of the Americans. Disappointed by the low attendance at the funeral, Nick decides to move away from New York. He also realises that both Tom and Daisy were destructive and selfish people. Thus, Fitzgerald perfectly illustrates the fact that the dream is unattainable, and that one should focus on non-material things which bring more joy than this impossible dream.

The Great Gatsby is regarded as one of the greatest novels of all time.

Quitting your job for social media

In one of my previous articles, I talked about influencer culture and the growth in the number of influencers in the past decade. One of the things that I mentioned was how some influencers tend to leave their day jobs and possibly even drop out of school to pursue social media. This was perhaps not very normal when influencers were just coming about, but has become extremely normalised in the past year or two. It is also more common amongst those having a big platform on YouTube than it is with any other form of social media. But now the question that arises is, should influencers quit their day jobs or drop out of school to pursue social media?

Up until the late 90s and early 2000s, getting a standard 9-5 job, working your way up the corporate ladder and retiring at 60 was the norm. However, the younger generations are realising from a very early age that they want to break this norm. They want to do something creatively fulfilling and entertaining, which is one of the many reasons why the number of influencers has risen. People as young as 15 have gained fame and are making millions. However, it is very easy for this fame to get to their head and convince them that they are invincible. Their audience keeps praising them which only inflates their ego, and they’re eventually convinced to drop out of school. 

It is understandable why this is so appealing. Who would want to sit in a classroom memorising formulas when you can be making millions from the comfort of your home. Some say that there is no right or wrong path for students to follow in life. However, it should be realised that it is simply not realistic for children to drop out of school. Your knowledge is a weapon no one can take from you. It is a common fact that some of the stuff that school teaches you is nonsensical and you won’t ever need to “solve for x” in real life. But this doesn’t mean that you should call it overrated and drop out. As much as you hate it, it is a crucial part of life. It gives you some important skills needed to be a functioning member of society. We need to stop propagating the idea that school is worthless and kids should drop out, and also better the education system, not dismiss it.

Now, if we talk about adults leaving their day jobs for social media or YouTube, there is a difference. For one, they have already passed from school and are much more independent than a teenager who is considering to drop out. Many people tend to look down on content creating and label it as a “fake job”. I believe that if something supports you economically and helps you earn money, it is a job. Social media is unstable and one isn’t going to be relevant forever. Also, those are more privileged and have more advantages are going to have a much more stable life if they quit their day jobs, so this is something which is not really for everyone. But, since the rules are different for adults and teens, one cannot really decide whether people quitting their day jobs for social media is right or not. 

I believe that if one chooses to pursue social media full time, they should have some other responsibilities or hobbies in their life. Having some other structure in your life can help you to avoid being stuck all day in the toxicity of social media, as it can get extremely negative. It is also important for them to have a backup plan, as internet fame can be fleeting, and while taking advantage of your online platform when it is thriving is great, one shouldn’t expect it to last forever and work on other things on the side.

veganism

Veganism is one of the many trends which have seen the light of day in the past few years. It is the practice of abstaining from consuming any animal products and going completely plant-based. Many speculate that veganism is the future of the planet. Research suggests that a vegan diet could potentially prevent eight million deaths from chronic diseases. It is estimated that the world population could rise from 7.5 billion to 10.5 billion by 2050. Since we use about 68 per cent of the world’s agricultural land to grow crops to feed livestock, a vegan future would free up space and leave us with more resources for the people.

Veganism also has many health benefits. A vegan diet can promote weight loss. It can also boost heart health. Eating animal-based foods can raise cholesterol levels, which can lead to an increased risk of strokes. Plant foods are also high in fibre, which is linked to better heart health. It is also proven that a vegan diet can reduce the risks of diabetes and some forms of cancers. 

Considering all these benefits, it is no doubt why such kind of lifestyle is growing in popularity day by day. Yet, many find this transition to a plant-based diet to be a difficult one. A few ways to ease this transition are:- 

  1. Motivate yourself 

Finding your motivation to transition to a vegan lifestyle is a crucial step, one that many tend to forget. Doing some research into how your food impacts the climate and watching documentaries on veganism is a great way to do so. Some documentaries I would suggest are Cowspiracy and What The Health. Initially, the change will be difficult, especially if you consume meat and dairy daily. However, keep your motivation and purpose in mind, and do not give up.

2. Start slow

Taking drastic measures in the initial steps of your transition to veganism is one of the biggest mistakes you could make. Many do this, and then inevitably fail. What you need to do is start small. Cutting off all animal products in one go is impossible. Making one of your meals vegan, reducing the amount of animal-based products you consume in a week or a month, and replacing your snacks with vegan alternatives are some great ways to successfully get started. Every minimal change can aid you in your journey to a vegan lifestyle.

3. Get the nutrients you need

Although a vegan lifestyle has its benefits, it can also be difficult for vegans to get enough of the vitamins and minerals which are found in animal products. Iron, protein, calcium and vitamin B12 are some such nutrients. Focus on including these in diet, by either finding vegan substitutes (broccoli and kale for calcium, rice milk for vitamin D). You can also consume supplements to get enough of some nutrients which are found only in animal products (Vitamin B12)

4. Curb your negativity 

Often one develops some form of hatred and negativity towards other non-vegans while transitioning to a vegan lifestyle. We condemn their non-vegan habits and get mad at them for not following a certain lifestyle. You should remember to not let these negative feelings get to you. Be mindful of the fact that not everyone can afford such a lifestyle. When educating others about veganism, do not let your hate and anger take over you. Be calm and polite. Remember that this cluster of emotions will pass. With time, everything gets easier.

online learning

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and the number of cases began to rise, the entire country went into lockdown. Educational institutions were the first to be shut down, and the situation was chaotic. Every student in the country was worried about their classes and their grades since they could no longer attend school. But a few weeks later online classes were implemented. Students and teachers could communicate through their devices. The current role that technology plays in education is a huge one. The idea of integrating more technology into our education system has been speculated for years, and it took an actual pandemic for us to see what technology-based learning would look like. The question which now arises is: Is this beneficial, and can we continue with such a technology-dependent system?

There are many advantages to online classes. Firstly, they are much more flexible than traditional ones. The most appealing benefit of online education is that students get to work from any place they want. They can create and manage a schedule which is much more beneficial for them. Many students are intimidated by the idea of speaking in public, and get anxious if they have to talk in front of large groups of people. Online learning makes it much easier for them to speak and present their ideas without having to look at tens and hundreds of faces. 

Some people also think that online classes are cheaper since they don’t have to spend money on books due to the availability of PDFs, and reduced cost of transportation. They have more resources than before, and their learning is not limited to just one textbook. Moreover, online learning allows a student to learn at their own pace. In traditional classes, it was difficult for all the students to understand the lectures and follow the lessons. Now, a student can simply look back at recordings of their lectures if they wish to, and can even clarify doubts through live chats. 

However, every coin has two sides. With the many advantages of online learning, come the disadvantages. In a country like India, where so many of our people are poor, not everyone has the resources to access online classes. Online classes are more favourable to those who can afford a good computer and steady Wi-Fi. Unavailability of devices and network issues can also prove to be a hindrance in the learning of the poor. Online classes tend to increase the communication gap between the students and the teachers, due to lack of any face-to-face interaction. Many teachers and students also find it difficult to familiarise themselves with platforms like Zoom or Microsoft Teams.

Online classes have also lead to a major increase in the screen times of students. Long hours of being glued to your device can have adverse effects on your health like headaches and eyesight issues. Students are also finding it difficult to give examinations, which is why people were against the idea of online exams. There is also a high chance of distractions, and students can easily lose track of their studies.

This transition to online learning was not a smooth one and showed us that we are not ready for our education system to be more technology-based. If we are to adopt such a system in the future, then we have to make sure that each student in this country has access to the resources required for online classes. We also have to ensure that our dependence on technology doesn’t grow more than it needs to. A lot of changes are required before we can successfully integrate technology into our learning system.

how your diet impacts the planet

We all know how important it is to maintain a balanced diet. But have you ever sat down and thought about how your diet impacts the environment? Let us take the example of one particular food item whose popularity has gone up in the past few years: Meat. It is a great source of complete protein and contains all the amino acids our bodies need. Vitamin B-12, a vitamin which helps in the formation of red blood cells and prevention of anaemia can be obtained from only animal sources. Meat is, therefore, great for your health, but is it all that great for the environment?

Eating meat has dire consequences for the environment. If we look at the land used to feed livestock, it is about eight times more than the land we use for feeding humans. In the US, approximately 260 million acres of land that was once occupied by forests, is now grazed by cattle. Raising animals for human consumption accounts for approximately 40% of the total amount of agricultural output in industrialised countries Most estimates claim that between 1,800 and 2,500 gallons of water go into producing each pound of beef. All these resources can be put to much better use, like feeding the millions of people starving in the world and growing vegetables or wheat. But we choose to use them to raise cattle; cattle which will eventually be slaughtered for human consumption.

Worldwide, livestock rearing makes up anywhere between 14.5 and 18 per cent of the total greenhouse gas emissions. If we compare it to the transportation sector, it is responsible for 14 per cent of the emissions. Not to mention the large amount of transportation required for the meat to reach from feedlots, to slaughterhouses, to processing centres and finally your local grocery stores. You’re probably better off driving your car than eating that meat on your plate.

Moreover, the conditions in which animals are kept in slaughterhouses is terrible. Animals are chained and dragged and beaten with tools ranging from cattle prods to shovels. They are packed into trucks and transported in masses, fearing the slow and cruel death that awaits them. Furthermore, they are hung upside down and decapitated. This allows them to bleed out quicker and is commercially beneficial for the processing of meat. If we look at poultry slaughterhouses, almost everything there is automated. They kill approximately 50,000 animals in just one week. Even the workers are affected by the work they do. Since most slaughterhouses are opened up in rural areas, where there are few job opportunities for the people, they are forced to work in such inhumane places, doing this horrible work. Most of us know this, yet we turn a blind eye to such events as we’re too afraid to face the reality of our food.

How can we prevent all this? The best thing to do would be to turn vegetarian or vegan. But we simply cannot expect the billions of people on the planet to give up meat. Not everyone has that privilege. Instead, one could try to reduce their meat intake. Educate those around you on the malpractices and evils of slaughterhouses and argue for reform. This is not something we should ignore. The time for change has come.

Sources: https://sentientmedia.org/slaughterhouses/

https://www.ecowatch.com/which-is-worse-for-the-planet-beef-or-cars-1919932136.html

the art of relaxation

Life can be tough. Amidst all this, it is probably a good idea for you to take a step back and just relax. 

It helps to reduce stress and anxiety. It even boosts confidence and reduces fatigue, anger, muscle tension etc. However, we live in a time where even relaxation is seen as something we shouldn’t do. Our productivity obsession forces us to work all day and feel guilty if we try to relax. Daily life is becoming more and more demanding and chaotic. Nowadays we see everything as a chore. Nothing is just for fun. 

Stress levels are at an all-time high. People have even started to procrastinate on rest by pushing themselves beyond their healthy boundaries. This is not normal. We have to re-educate ourselves on the art of relaxation. Some ways to do so are:-

Write it down

There is a lot on our minds nowadays, and sometimes we find it difficult to simply talk it out. We fail to either find the right words to express ourselves, or the right person to talk or vent to. In this case, confiding in a piece of paper can be more relaxing than we think. Maintaining a diary, a journal, or a blog can be extremely therapeutic, and help you reduce any stress you carry.

Reduce screen time

You might have heard your parents blame everything that is wrong with the universe on your phone usage. While that may not necessarily be true, your screen time is one of the biggest contributors of your stress. With everything that is going on in the world right now, it can be overwhelming to scroll through the news or social media. Simply putting aside your phone or computer for at least an hour each day can make a world of difference, and help you feel much better.

Connect with your surroundings 

Spending some time in nature and doing some breathing exercises is a guaranteed stress-reliever. This is something which people have been doing for years, and it has never failed. Releasing any sort of physical tension by taking a short walk and a few deep breaths can be extremely beneficial for both mental and physical stress.

Go easy on yourself 

Nowadays, everyone is too harsh on themselves. They feel guilty if they spend their time watching their favourite show or reading a book instead of doing some work. Newsflash: You’re human. Rest is crucial for you, and not something you should omit. Forgive yourself if you mess up or feel unproductive. Know that you cannot keep on working, and you deserve to take breaks.

Laugh it out

Laughter, they say, is the best medicine. When you are laughing you are distracted, and not thinking about that big final exam or presentation coming up. Cortisol is the primary stress hormone that makes us feel stressed. It has been scientifically proven that when you’re laughing, your cortisol levels are decreased by the increased intake of oxygen and  stimulation of circulation around the body. Laughing also increases the number of endorphins and boosts your mood significantly. So go ahead, spend time with your pets or watch that special by your favourite comedian. You’ll feel significantly better.

Independence day: how far has the golden bird soared

“Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.”

– Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Tryst with Destiny

15 August 1947, a day immortalised as the first independence day of India. This was the very day we gained our independence after almost 200 hundred years of British oppression. The path to independence was not an easy one. It cost us millions of lives, and years of bloodshed to regain something which shouldn’t have been taken from us in the first place. The sacrifices of those who fought for our noble land are honoured and remembered, as we celebrate the 74th Indian Independence Day in 2020. In these past 73 years of freedom, a lot has changed as we have struggled to find our own identity and fix the damages done to us.

Let us look back to what was happening 73 years ago. On 20 February 1947, it was announced by the British Prime Minister Clement Attlee that their government would grant full self-governance to British India by June 1948 at the latest. This was a result of the realisation by the labour party that due to the exhaustion of their resources by the Second World War and lack of international support, they could no longer control restless India. Yet, the day of independence was not all pretty. Communal riots, rampage and bloodshed on both sides of the border led to the loss of between 250,000 to 1,000,000 lives. Amidst all this, the first Prime Minister of independent India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru delivered his famous speech, Tryst With Destiny, to commemorate our independence. This speech is considered one of the greatest speeches of the 20th century.

It is an undeniable fact that in the past 73 years we have made a lot of progress. If we look at the economy, we can see that the standards of living and income levels have grown tremendously. The gross domestic product (GDP) increased from Rs 2,939 billion during 1950-51 to an estimated Rs 1,40,776 billion in 2018-19. At the same time, the income of the average Indian worker has gone up to Rs 92,565 during 2018-19 from just around Rs 7,513 during 1950-51. In 1991, the economic liberalisation  of our economic policies was initiated, to make the economy more market- and service-oriented, and expanding the role of private and foreign investment. Our economy is one of the fastest-growing economies of the world. Literacy rates have increased significantly, from 18.3% during the 1950s to 73% in 2011. So much more has been done, which makes one’s chest swell with pride.

Although it is pleasing to see the progress which has been made, our country is not perfect. People are still being discriminated against. Colourism in India which has been fuelled due to events under British colonial rule, where British officials consistently demeaned dark-skinned Indians and favoured light-skinned Indians for jobs is still prevalent. Even though our economy is growing fast, the growth in India is not inclusive enough. The rich are getting richer, while the poor suffer. India is also not very safe for women due to the increasing number of assaults against women. Sexist practices like dowry and female foeticide are still happening in the remote areas of the country, even though they have been banned. The number of lynching cases has also grown up, which is incredibly saddening.

Nobody likes to look at the negatives, yet we cannot ignore the problems with the system. An Indian citizen has to address these problems and work for the betterment of their country. 

This independence day, we stand together for our country, and celebrate and salute the brave and the fearless for the sacrifices made by them to help us achieve our freedom. Jai Hind!

the bitter beverage

With more than 400 billion cups consumed each year, coffee is the most popular beverage in the world. The global coffee industry earns an estimated $60 billion annually. After oil, it is the world’s second-most-valuable commodity exported by developing countries, and people cannot get enough. Consumption of coffee varies worldwide, with some people even consuming 4 cups a day. As a student, coffee is a staple for me. Many people around the world, including me, cannot get by their days without consuming at least one cup of coffee. This love for coffee is justifiable, as it has many benefits. It energises us, helps us stay focused, reduce the risk of Dementia, and can even lower the risk of certain types of cancer. But, even though millions around the world drink coffee, many fail to acknowledge the dark side of it.

Caffeine is a highly addictive substance. Many people think that they need to consume some form of it. Excessive consumption of caffeine can lead to nervousness and restlessness, sometimes even death. However, we as a society have completely normalised caffeine addiction. Many joke about the fact that they cannot survive without that daily cup of coffee and call it a cup of “liquid sanity” when in reality it is not something to be joked about. It should be taken as seriously as any other addiction. Those trying to reduce or quit coffee, might experience withdrawals in the form of severe headaches, irritability, drowsiness, depression and sometimes even nausea and vomiting.

Conventional coffee not only harms your health (if consumed in large quantities ) but also have negative effects on our planet. Coffee was traditionally grown in shady areas, and it had its benefits. It prevented soil erosion and provided some form of refuge for the species native to the regions where it was grown. But, since the yields and therefore profits of shade-grown coffee are lower, many switched to open fields. Growing coffee under the sun depletes the nutrients in the soil, and render the land useless. Such type of coffee also requires a higher amount of pesticides and fertilisers. Since the workers working in such plantations are generally poor, they cannot afford proper safety equipment and suffer from skin rashes and difficulty in breathing.

Coffee farmers are severely underpaid. But, since this is sometimes their only source of income, they are forced to pull their children out of schools and employ them in plantations. It is extremely unsafe for children as young as 6 to be exposed to such high amounts of pesticides used, and even saddening to know that in Brazil child labour rates were approximately 37% higher—and school enrolment 3% lower—than average in regions where coffee is produced. Moreover, big brands such as Nestlé have admitted to purchasing coffee from plantations where slavery and forced labour are prevalent.

Unfortunately, ethical consumption of any commodity is challenging under modern-day capitalism, and a few people cannot guarantee safe working conditions and fair wages for all coffee farmers. Yet, there are still some things we can do on our part to make our coffee consumption more ethical. For starters, we can avoid buying from unethical brands like Nestlé, and instead switch to fair trade brands. The best thing would be to simply purchase your coffee from local shops that get their beans from small farmers. If you reside in India, then try purchasing from the largest certified organic coffee plantation in the Eastern Ghats, Araku Coffee. Moreover, do not stop educating yourself about these issues; don’t let them go unnoticed. The fight for change is a difficult one, but never stop fighting for what’s right.

Sources: https://foodispower.org/our-food-choices/coffee/

toxic productivity and workaholism

A few days ago, a friend of mine told me that the increasing amount of work she received was “killing her.” Now, this was a statement not meant to be taken seriously as it was just two friends joking around. But, for some reason, I couldn’t let the statement go. It got me thinking of all the times I pushed myself beyond my healthy limits by pulling all-nighters to finish assignments, cramming information into my brain for a test till I literally couldn’t think about anything else except that test, and stressing myself out way too much just to finish some futile project. Which lead me to the question, why are we so obsessed with “being productive” or overworking ourselves?

We all know how incredibly fast-paced this world is now. People are always in such a rush to finish their work. Sometimes they don’t even take breaks or relax, as they’re afraid of lagging. As the years have progressed, more and more workaholics have emerged. The term workaholic was coined in 1971  by a minister and psychologist Wayne Oates. It is used to describe someone who feels the need to work incessantly without any rest. For some people, work is an addiction. They just can’t bring themselves to stop.

The typical “started from the bottom, now we’re here” genre of stories is one which has been told for ages. The idea that if you work hard enough, one day you’ll be successful and rich, has been drilled into our minds since we were kids. We have glamorised the idea of productivity and workaholism so much that we brag about our unhealthy work habits to people. Equating overworking ourselves to the point of an actual mental breakdown to success is extremely toxic and something which definitely shouldn’t be done.

Toxic productivity and “hustle culture” is famous all around the world. For example, in Japan, nearly one-quarter of the companies require their workers to work more than 80 hours of overtime a month, according to a 2016 survey. These hours are unpaid and under-appreciated. Japanese workers on average didn’t use 10 of their paid vacation days, and 63 per cent of Japanese respondents felt guilty for taking paid leave. Even in India, students working themselves to the point of death is sadly common. 

Depression and anxiety levels are at an all-time high. If this workaholic culture continues to stay in place, then the consequences will be harmful. Serious reform needs to be taken. One way to do this is to model our systems to that of Nordic countries, like Sweden, Finland etc. These countries have the best qualities of life,  with Finland being ranked as the happiest country in the world by the United Nations. Their people get adequate working hours with good pay, healthcare, and a better quality of education. Their leaders are young and care about the quality of life of their people. Many lessons can be learned from them.

While waiting for big changes to be implemented, there is a lot we can do on our end to try to reduce stress. Taking regular breaks from work is crucial. Prioritising your mental and physical health and realising when to take breaks is another thing which needs to be practised. Remember, you cannot achieve everything in life, so there is no point in stressing over things beyond your control. Learn to let go; things will surely get better.

Sources: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/01/japan-has-some-of-the-longest-working-hours-in-the-world-its-trying-to-change.html

jane austen: The witty feminist

The year was 1787. Delegates were gathering up in Philadelphia to draw up the US constitution, Russia had declared war on Turkey, and an 11-year-old Jane Austen had just begun writing poems and stories for her family’s entertainment. Years later, somewhere around 1796, Austen wrote her first full-length novel, Elinor and Marianne, which was published in 1811 as Sense and Sensibility. The book was published anonymously, with the cover simply stating, ‘By a Lady’, and was well received. Little did she know how big her impact would be on the literary world, and how her legacy would be kept alive years after her death.

Jane Austen’s name and her work is still popular and influential, and known by many. Born in 1775, Austen remains a mysterious figure to the public. The primary reason for this being the burning of the many letters written by her, by her sister Cassandra. This was done to prevent any embarrassment because of the merciless and witty tone of her letters, though some fragments of those letters are still preserved. She was the seventh child in a family of eight. Austen had a near-death experience when she suffered from typhus when sent to Oxford. After her recovery, she was sent to a boarding school in Reading but returned due to the exorbitant fees which had to be paid, and never again left her immediate family environment.

In 1787, Austen began writing, mainly focusing on poems and stories. These were written purely for her and her family’s entertainment, and she had no intention of publishing them. It is estimated that she wrote 3 plays during her teen years. At the age of eighteen, Austen began working on Lady Susan, an epistolary novel written in the form of letters. This wasn’t published until 1871 and has been described as Austen’s most advanced early form of work. After finishing Lady Susan, Austen’s first full-length novel was written. It was initially written under the name Elinor and Marriane but was later changed to Sense and Sensibility. Though it was well-received, Austen’s best and most well-known book was Pride and Prejudice. Set in rural England in the early 19th century, it starts with one of the most iconic lines in literature, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” It has been cited as an influential text and is a beloved book in the eyes of readers and scholars, even 200 years after its publication.

Austen’s work and style of writing were unique. She is known for creating fierce, independent and strong female leads, who are capable of identifying their flaws and correcting them. Her work also interprets and criticises the British aristocrats and the upper class, and deals with economic and class distinctions. In a time like the 1800s, where women were discouraged from writing and publishing books, and many female authors took up male pseudonyms for the publication of their work, Austen was seen as a rebel. She chose not to take on a male pseudonym, and simply published her work under the pen name, “A Lady.” By not marrying, she challenged the notion that a woman without a husband wasn’t capable of supporting herself. Austen has been named as a feminist icon by many.

Since publishing Pride and Prejudice, Austen has written many novels, which include Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion. Several adaptations of her work in the form of movies and shows have come up. Her books are studied in prestigious universities around the world, and her work has been appreciated by many scholars and philosophers. Though she may have died in 1817, the witty Jane Austen and her work remain timeless, and never fail to fascinate the new generations.