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Jane Austen - Early Feminist - Essay Example

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This paper "Jane Austen - Early Feminist?" focuses on the fact that Jane Austen has been a long-debated figure in British literature. As a female pre-Victorian writer, she presents a view of the world not typically captured in other literature. Hers was chiefly the outlook of the present tense. …
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Jane Austen - Early Feminist
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Download file to see previous pages Austen produced six novels in her lifetime: Northanger Abbey (written in 1797), Pride and Prejudice (written in 1797), Sense and Sensibility (1811), Mansfield Park (1814), Emma (1816) and Persuasion (1818). In each story, similar settings of country manors and small villages take centre stage along with the people in them. “If we bear in mind … the important part played in eighteenth-century England by the small community, the great house, the landed gentleman, the network of personal contacts, the ideal of concern for others, the system of manners, and the formal social occasion, Jane Austen’s novels are revealed as being much more in touch with the main currents of her age than has sometimes been supposed” (Monaghan, 1980: 5). Although they take on many similar characteristics, each of Austen’s books remains markedly separated from the others within their own context and in the minds of her readers. “Her books are all alike in spirit, but subtly different in the matter. She handled the same type of character, only to produce entirely distinct individuals” (Bald, 1963: 17). In working to capture the “polite social relationships between members of the landed classes within the context of the village and the great house” (Monaghan, 1980: 5), Austen has been said both to be a champion of the Victorian ideals of female submission and subservience as well as of being a forerunner to the feminist movement that would have its roots in this culture. To determine whether Jane Austen was intentionally trying to criticize and ridicule her society’s expectations of women, classifying her among the proto-feminists, an investigation of the ideas she presents in her books regarding marriage, wealth and social status among men and women through her books is necessary.
Supporting the concept that Austen was concerned with reinforcing the proper roles of women in the eighteenth century yet emphasized in the role a greater sense of purpose than typically considered, Bald (1963) indicates that all of the women of Jane Austen’s world were “obsessed by the game of matrimony, but some of them, anyhow, played it without desiring any handicap.   ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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