The real "substance" of Jane Austen's novels, to me, isn't to be found in the plots, the morals, the lessons, the ultimate cathartic resolutions. Those are just to keep people reading, just like the bloodshed in Shakespeare was just to keep common butts in seats. If the plots and what these plays seem to be about were what they really were about then they would be no different from Harlequin romances or adventure comic books. The plots (like the characters) are just literary devices to place a stylistic limitation on Austen's witty play with language, which is the real star of the show in how it creates new forms of knowing purely through style. The style is not the messenger, the style is the message. The medium is the message, Marshall McLuhan, etc. This, to me, is why we need literature for a reason different than why we need, say, philosophy. The form of the sentences themselves, on a word by word basis, carve out a form that we can use to understand aspects of our lives that we otherwise couldn't. It's all about tone. Tone, tone, tone, tone, tone, and how it shifts like music. But it's not like music, because Austen's paintbrush are words which create more specific tonal variations than music can. Like music, it not really important for the way it challenges our intellectual ideas, but our powers of perception. It tests our perceptions by seeing if we can catch the subtle flickers of tone, and if we ride those energies, it makes us into better hearers and seers. It's like an exercise that also happens to be hilarious. That's as much as I can really say about it. It's important not to try to get to the "point" of the sentence or simply to get to the next event or dramatic irony. That's not what makes Austen exceptional. Any hack with a basic understanding of literary conventions can do that. With Austen you have to listen and hear rather than just read.
I can't get into Derrida tonight. I'll do it some day after my film professor has frustrated me with him.