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Jane Austen’s Views on Love, Courtship, and Marriage as Expressed in Her Novels Amy Hooper Professor Owens ENG-1102 3 December 2010
Who was Jane Austen? Early 19th century English novelist Very well-known and loved during her time, and still very popular today Wrote romance novels
Jane Austen Compared to Other Romance Novelists of Her Time Other Romance Novelists Jane Austen Wrote “tales of wild adventure in love and chivalry… where marvelous and exciting events occurred in remote exotic settings” (Ruhemann 1) Critics said that “the romances allowed their readers – who were mainly women – to immerse themselves without responsibility in a hectic world which made real life pale by comparison” (Ruhemann 1) Wrote about love realistically Showed readers many different perspectives (multi-perspectival) Her writing offers readers a “play of perspective on events” and invites them to “see things from other angles” and catch themselves up before getting too carried away (Ruhemann 3) She “includes elements in her story that deal with the question of what life is like for people who don’t have the advantages of the romantic heroine” (Ruhemann 3) An example of this is Charlotte Lucas in Pride and Prejudice
Symbols Used as Metaphors for Courtship in Austen’s Novels Dancing used as a metaphor for courtship Austen’s brother stated in Pride and Prejudice that his sister “was fond of dancing, and excelled in it” (qtd. in Schneider 1) “Langdon Elsbree observes that dancing provides a primary source for ‘action and speech in Jane Austen’s fictional world and dramatize[s] the theme of courtship and marriage’” (qtd. in Schneider 1). “Dancing embodies the tension between the struggle for individuality and polite society’s prescribed gender identities and roles” (Schneider 1) Card-playing used as a metaphor for courtship in Pride and Prejudice Matthew Schneider states that Austen was very fond of card playing (1) It is the perfect metaphor for the courting process in this novel because it “incorporates two important elements of the Austenian portrayal of courtship… money and luck” (Schneider 1)
The Theme of Love in Austen’s Novels Possibly Shaped Around Events in Her Own Life Some critics believe that the love stories in Jane Austen’s novels came from events that occurred in Austen’s own life. According to Lori Smith, the love stories in Jane Austen’s own life echo the themes of her novels, “but without the ‘happily ever after’ ending” (45) Jane Austen’s relationships with men always ended, which made her stories more realistic because they were inspired by her love life.
Marriage in Jane Austen’s Novels The theme of marriage in Austen’s novels could not have been based off of her own life, because she never married. However, according to Audrey Hawkridge, “For a woman who never married, Jane’s mind dealt frequently on the subject of wedlock” (181) The women in Austen’s novels saw marriage differently than today’s society sees it “Today the idea of marriage is a loaded one; at best it’s a closing down of options… For them life opened up at the point of marriage” (Clarke 3) Austen wrote optimistically about marriage rather than putting it down
Conclusion Jane Austen is one of the most famous authors in history She was a very influential author Some even say that she created the idea of the modern romance novel Her novels were, and continue to be, very popular Her six novels that were published have become some of the most famous romance novels of all time The main themes in her novels and the way that she expresses them in her writing brings new hope to readers and makes her a very popular author She portrays love, courtship, and marriage realistically in her novels, while still keeping an enjoyable plot and storyline All of these things are what make and what will continue to make Austen famous for a very long time.
Works Cited Clarke, Susanna. “Why We Read Jane Austen: Young Persons in Interesting Situations.” A Truth Universally Acknowledged. Ed. Susannah Carson. New York: Random House, 2009. 3-8. Print. Hawkridge, Audrey. Jane and her Gentlemen: Jane Austen and the Men in her Life and Novels. London: Peter Owen Publishers, 2000. Print. Ruhemann, Linda. “True Romance? Linda Ruhemann asks what it is that readers – perhaps particularly young women – enjoy so much about Pride and Prejudice.” The English Review 13.1 (n.d.): 22. Gale: Literature Resource Center. EBSCO. Web. 4 Nov. 2010. Schneider, Matthew. “Card-playing and the Marriage Gamble in Pride and Prejudice.” Dalhousie Review 73.1 (n.d.): 5-17. Gale: Literature Resource Center. EBSCO. Web. 4 Nov. 2010. Smith, Lori. A Walk with Jane Austen. Colorado: Waterbook Press, 2007. Print.