Austen’s sentence has become a cliche, but it’s actually so perfect, so laden with irony (Her “truth” is in fact, not universally acknowledged but rather assumed to be so by her characters. So the statement that it is universal is, itself, a specific non-universal viewpoint. This is how people talk when they’re unable to justify their weird social ideas–they assume “everyone knows” x or y). It sets the tone for her playful use of free-indirect discourse, the way she never lets you stay comfortable knowing whether there’s an omniscient narrator or she’s taking the limited viewpoint of her heroine. And it also introduces he themes of her book: the flawed perspective of individuals, the absurdity of social assumptions. All in all, a job well done.
Never question Saint Jane!
And here is what Simon said, helping me formulate the above argument. As you can see, I spiced up my own argument with his brilliance.
Simon: it's a well constructed sentence that flows very nicely
me: also it's not universally acknowledged
Simon: there is a level of subtly accomplished irony
me: thats the whole point
Simon: the statement that it is universal is, itself, a specific non-universal viewpoint
1:01 PM exposes the way people talk
assert things as givens when they don't want to (or are unable to) explain their reasoning
attempt to just establish certain mores/assumptions as fact
and since clashing perspectives and mores are the major theme of the book, it sets that out quite nicely
1:02 PM but these things only become clear once you have read the book and become acquainted w the characters
hence, good sentence
me: this is in line with what I'm writing
1:03 PM the book is all about why people say certain things at certain times, and how that lines up with what they actually believe / what is actually true
Readers, why do you love this sentence, or any of Jane's first sentences (they're all gems, as far as I'm concerned, particularly Emma, Persuasion, P+P, NA)?