Thoroughly modern Jane

What, then, are the values that Austen would teach us? Value-laden words and phrases appear again and again in her work, often in clusters: self- knowledge, generosity, humility; elegance, propriety, cheerful orderliness; good understanding, correct opinion, knowledge of the world, a warm heart, steady, observant, moderate, candid, sensibility to what is amiable and lovely.

Austen's moral instruction points one toward a more moral life—where "moral" refers not only to right principles but to conduct in general. Austen's value system can be thought of as a sphere with layers. The innermost core might be called "morals," the next layer we could call "sentiments," and finally the surface "manners." Morals are the fundamental principles: self-knowledge, generosity, humility, tenderest compassion, upright integrity.

Jane Austen's Lessons for the Modern World