Friday Essay: Jane Austen’s Emma at 200

Jane Austen wrote about her world and this included her social class, the gentry. The manners and the life forms of the gentry are always present in “Sense and Sensibility” and “Pride and Prejudice”.

Type my essay Jane Austen by Persuasion

Gross, Gloria.  About author Samuel Johnson's influence on Jane Austen.  11 (1989).

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Perhaps there is no universally accepted definition of what we mean by "Victorian". To me it was a period of rigid rules, frozen class structures, and calcified sphincters. I also think of the malady as a kind of London flu that spread throughout the English-speaking world. (The rest of us could not expect to import only the good stuff.) Victorian attitudes seem a natural consequence of the industrial revolution combined with the establishment of the British Empire; these were the firm attitudes that disciplined and trained that large middle class that was so necessary for the control and functioning of the two vast domains. The "revolution" the expansion were well under way in Jane Austen's times; indeed, Jane's brothers were participating in both of these historical processes. However, the bad stuff had not yet begun.

Pride and Prejudice -- Jane Austen - Pemberley

I think Jane Austen is sometimes mentioned in the Victorian context because she may have influenced some of the novelists of that later period, not in content but in artistic ways. However, as I have argued in , confusing Victorian attitudes with those of Jane Austen leads one to misinterpret at least one aspect of , and we can expect that there are other instances of that same danger.

Title page from Jane Austen’s first edition of Emma. Jane Austen – Lilly Library, Indiana University.
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The Theology of Jane Austen-Part I - Catholic Stand

don't know for sure, but my impression is that most English novelists in Jane Austen's day (1775-1817) were women. (See Cathy Decker's of that time.) There were Ann Radcliffe (1764-1823), Fanny Burney (1752-1840), Elizabeth Inchbald (1753-1821), Maria Edgeworth (1767-1849), and to name just a few women authors. These women were slightly older and first published slightly before Jane Austen. Jane Austen admired Burney and Edgeworth and had the opposite feelings about Radcliffe. (Oh! and America's first novelist was a woman, so James Fenimore Cooper was .)

Jane’s writings and writings of others provide some clues about her beliefs because her religion was part of Jane Austen.

Michael Chwe, Author, Sees Jane Austen as Game …

All of those men were of Jane Austen's grandfather's or great-grandfather's generation. One is struck by the fact that severe rivalries and dislikes existed among the male writers. Swift and Defoe didn't much care for one another, and both Richardson and Fielding made unkind remarks about the other. The first case may have been a natural consequence of religious difference; Jonathan Swift was Church of English clergyman and Daniel Defoe was a dissenter, a Presbyterian. The later rivalry may have been a reflection of class differences; Samuel Richardson was working class and Henry Fielding was privileged. Fielding enjoyed lampooning Richardson's novels and Richardson expressed a good deal of moral outrage over Fielding's. If you will read the biography of only one of these men, choose Daniel Defoe - born of a poor father, he was a short-term insurrectionist, long-term government spy, a man of letters.

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In Jane Austen’s Own Words: Economic Sense and …

There is a story in the family about Jane sitting with her sister Cassandra and her niece Anna (brother James's oldest child) while the three of them were sewing. Jane and Anna began to trade quips and jokes and they made Cassie laugh so hard and so long that she begged for mercy and pled with them to stop. Anna spent a lot of time at her aunts' home, but why should that be? For the company to be sure, but there may also have been a slightly darker reason. Anna's mother had died, James had remarried, and the new wife was the former Mary Lloyd. Some biographers hint that Mary may not have been the loving stepmother for whom Jane Austen would have hoped [Le Faye-89]. There are hints of worse things. The darkest suggestion of all is that Mary may have undone Jane and Cassie in a most underhanded way. The sisters arrived home from a visit to relatives to discover, to their complete and unpleasant surprise, that their parents had decided to resign the fathers "living" in favor of James, and the family was to abandon even the home to James and Mary and retire thence to Bath. To BATH! Of all places! The hint is that Mary was the instigator of all this and had waited until the daughters were out of the neighborhood to make her move. (It makes you think of the younger Mrs. Dashwood, does it not?) [Tomalin-JA, Chapter 16]