New Feminist Ideas by Jane Austen
Jane Austen, one of the most popular novelists of all time, was born on December 16, 1775, in Steventon, Hampshire, England and died on July 18, 1817. Austen changed writing as she was one of the first authors to put forward that women should marry for love instead of a man’s status of money.
Jane Austen literary writing was often found in the romanticism age, as she wrote mostly about love. Austen used her writing as a way to branch out her feminine side; her female characters were always found to be well educated or knowing literary pieces. Jane Austen was the daughter of Rev. George and Cassandra Austen and a sister to five brothers and one sister. Growing up, Austen and her sibling were encouraged to read from their father’s library which sparked her interest in reading and writing.
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In the year 1783, Jane Austen and her sister Cassandra was sent to a boarding school in Oxford to live with her cousin and to obtain a better formal education. Back during that time period, education was mostly focused on learning foreign languages, and performing arts. (Warren, 2018).
Later Austen and her sister fell ill to Typhoid fever and eventually went back home. After Jane Austen and her sister returned from their boarding school, Jane Austen began to write her first book called First Impression ( or as we know now as Pride and Prejudice) which became one her top seller books. The Austen family encouraged their children with a creative learning environment to read and write so as Jane Austen interest in writing became more prominent, her parents provided book, paper, and other things to keep encouraging her. At the age of nineteen, Jane Austen’s father bought her a mahogany writing desk that helped encourage her writing technique and style.
In 1801, Austen’s family moved from Hampshire to Stevenson town. Here, she fell in love, but he sadly died. Austen later was asked for marriage from a wealthy man named Harris Bigg-Wither and although she accepted it at that moment, the next morning she called it off (Ross, n.d) Austen has written many iconic books that are worldwide such as Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, Lady Susan, etc. At the age of twenty, Austen completed a version of Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice but it was turned down.
Twenty years later, Austen became a published author and manage to get Sense and Sensibility to be published. Jane Austen was soon to be known as the “Mother of Genres” according to Team Stylist, as she ” took the age of old romance plot and gave it several twists, centralizing heroine’s point of view, taste, and desire.” Austen’s nephew, James Edward Austen- Leigh, soon took after her in the writing career and was the first person to write a biography on his Aunt called A Memoir of Jane Austen. Austen-Leigh (1869) concludes that his Aunt had ” strong political opinions, especially about the affairs of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries” as a little girl.
Which I can assume to spark her interest in the female characters portraying a different role in society than she is accustomed too, perhaps and the role she believed would come in the future for females. Austen’s nephew also uplifts her a lot in his writing and explains how you could tell she had a love for children and the entertainment that went along with it, including the laughter and joy she brought to other people.
According to Team Stylist soon after James Edward Austen- Leigh’s biography came out, Victorians society found a sudden fascination of Jane Austen life and the reserved life that she shared, then they became infatuated by her novels. Although at first, Jane Austen’s writing career was off to a rocky start with no one offering to publish any of her books, after her death, people became more interested in her book and her writing style. To this day, the six novels that she wrote are being sold to make a profit of millions of dollars . Not only did her writing career skyrocket, but she was also nominated and won awards for her writing too. Jane Austen was a winner of USC Scripter Award for her book Sense and Sensibility, Austen was also nominated for USC Scripter Award for her other book Emma . Jane Austen’s life was most definitely an interesting tale to tell but it was a tale that came to a quick end.
In the year 1816, Austen’s health was drastically changing and became ill. In the year 1817, Jane Austen died at the age of forty-one to what some people believe to be Addison’s disease . After her death, the last two novels she wrote, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, were published under her name, unlike her other novels that were published under ” By a Lady” instead of her full name. As stated in the beginning first paragraph, Jane Austen is considered to be in the Romanticism time period based on the love story plotline that is in most of her books.
During the 1800s, women didn’t have as free of a right as men did, women mostly stayed in the house and did chores while taking care of the children as the men were at working trying to make money. Most women did not have a choice in who they get to marry or who they get to love. Jane Austen showed acts of feminism through her literary work as she wrote her female characters to have a choice in marriage and view them as an independent woman which wasn’t common in the reality of the 1800s. According to Chandler, a blogger, she feels as if Jane Austen “… reveals the truth about people’s’ values and about the society during the Romantic Period”. Before the Romanticism time period, there was the Enlightenment or what some people may refer to as the age of reasoning.
The Enlightenment was an age in which writers or poets wrote in a sense of order and non-personal attached but as the truth as a whole. People wrote about social problems and, according to Peter Sinclair, “anything that dealt with and promoted civilization as a whole while ridiculing those things that could damage an ordered world: personal feelings, dreams, desires, irrational or unbalanced thinking” (2010). As the Romanticism age began to prosper, people began to write more about tragic love stories and used personal feelings and connection through their writing.
The refore, many writers began to write about stories that contained everything the Enlightenment age tried to steer clear of and birth the new time period knows Romanticism. Jane Austen’s use of feminism through satire portrayed throughout her books and the used of love can only be shown to be in the Romanticism time period. Pride and Prejudice, a story about a young woman named Elizabeth Bennet who judges and a man too quickly without knowing him. A woman who had to learn about prejudice from a man whom she came to love. A woman who was allowed to chose who she wanted to marry out of love instead of social status and monetary.
This story runs deeper than an ordinary love story, this novel shows marriage in a different view than in the time period Jane Austen lived by. In a time wherein the institution of marriage was accepted to marry for the purpose of social status, Jane Austen used satire, traditional diction, and earnest tone, to show a society where a woman can marry for love and steer from the high-class system. “Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves; vanity, to what we would have others think of us” (Austen, 1775).
Throughout the book, Jane Austen has used satire as a way to show how marrying for the sake of money or power in the very beginning of the book, ” It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of good fortune, must be in want of a wife” (Austen, 1813, p.1) . Austen shows the purpose of her writing about marriages showing her feminist values through the main female characters. In the book, the Mr. and Mrs. Bennet try to get a hand in marriage for their daughters and when a new man, Mr.Bingly, arrives who seemly seems fit for one of their daughters. LAter throughout the book, Mr. Bingly’s best friend, Mr.Darcy, asks for Liz (Elizabeth but I will refer to her as Liz as goes by that in the boo) for marriage but she refuses. Jane Austen used this scene to show Liz as an independent woman choosing not to marry a man with a great deal of money, despite her parents insisting on marrying this man for his fortune. Austen delineates the fact that marriage is truly based on economics.
Through Jane Austen’s traditional use of diction, she is able to cast her opinion on the patriarchy life females lives through. As stated, “It is sometimes a disadvantage to be so very guarded. If a woman conceals her affection with the same skill from the object of it, she may lose the opportunity of fixing him; and it will then be but poor consolation to believe the world equally in the dark. There is so much of gratitude or vanity in almost every attachment, that it is not safe to leave any to itself. We can all begin freely? a slight preference is natural enough; but there are very few of us who have heart enough to be really in love without encouragement. In nine cases out of ten, a woman had better show more affection than she feels” (Austen, 1813,p.24).
This quote shows the deep, dark meaning of reality that people of that time period faced. Without a husband, a woman would be in a crisis of being financially unstable risking the loss of power they hold in society and in order to secure their future they must be involved in a marriage that isn’t out of true love. The specific diction Austen writes in, gives out the period in which she wrote in branching out the whole purpose for writing this novel. Not only did her use of satire and traditional diction portray her purpose but so did her earnest tone shone throughout the book. Later throughout the book, Mr. Darcy begins to have feelings for Liz but is fearful of those feeling because of the damage it might do for his reputation. This shows how serious marriage can corrupt you and your family.
“Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance. If the dispositions of the parties are ever so well known to each other or ever so similar beforehand, it does not advance their felicity in the least. They always continue to grow sufficiently unlike afterwards to have their share of vexation; and it is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life” (Austen, 1813, p.25). This quote shows how the tone is played out through the book, it shows how far people will go for a secure future that entails fortunes.
Although Jane Austen used ironic and humorous diction to show the more comical side of her purpose, the seriousness of marriage without love or choice portrays her purpose for the writing this book to show other people the problem of society how normal it is for a woman.
Jane Austen will be known for one of the first female novelists to write about a love story that portrays a society that isn’t common in the world she lived in during that time. Austen brought new feminist ideas into the art of literature for woman everywhere and gave them hope for a new beginning. Although her life was ended early, Austen did so many amazing things that were never recognized when she was alive but her legacy will live on forever for us. Happy early birthday Jane Austen, and thank you for sharing your mind, your hope became a reality.