More about Jane Austen

Mary C Braga, University of Rhode Island

Abstract

Within the last few years, a great deal of new information has come to light about Jane Austen's life and a number of important new critical works have been written. It is time to make an assessment of all this new information and to put the new critical approaches in perspective to see what comprehensive view of Austen emerges and that is what I try to do in this dissertation.^ In the first chapter, I examine the facts of Jane Austen's life as a member of an important Hampshire family. Jane Austen was a loyal and loving daughter and she shared with her sister and her brothers a strong bond of affection. I show how from her family Jane Austen learned a great deal about the social/class relations of people in early nineteenth century England and how she came to understand much about the political and economic realities as well. After all, Austen's father was an important clergyman in Hampshire; two of her brothers were involved in the nation's wars and two were busy dealing with commercial and farming ventures. The possibility of adult love, however, did not come to Jane until her late teens. At that time, she participated in numerous social events and received a proposal of marriage from a number of suitors; as a result, she became intimately acquainted with the courtship rituals of her time and had an opportunity to observe the behavior of both the young and old involved therein. Of course, in the end, Austen chose not to marry but to pursue a career as a novelist. In this chapter, I review important new information about these events and circumstances in Austen's life. I believe what emerges is a more complete picture of the experiences that influenced her works.^ In the second chapter, I look closely at Lady Susan, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Mansfield Park, Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, The Watsons and Sanditon. I try to show how each of these novels reflects in important ways Austen's experiences within her own family and within society. The picture that emerges is that of a body of works which show Austen developing arguments about the complexities of love and marriage in the early nineteenth century. Though Austen herself never married, she allows her heroines to achieve financial and emotional independence through marriage; thus these women attain considerable power and esteem even while forced to live within the very confining social structures of Austen's time. ^

Subject Area

Biography|Literature, English

Recommended Citation

Mary C Braga, "More about Jane Austen" (1995). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI9601833.
http://digitalcommons.uri.edu/dissertations/AAI9601833

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