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The Women Of Jane Austen - Online Term Paper

The Women Of Jane Austen


Jane Austen has attracted a great deal of critical attention in recent years. Many have spoken out about the strengths and weaknesses of her characters, particularly her heroines. Austen has been cast as both a friend and foe to the rights of women. According to Morrison, “most feminist studies have represented Austen as a conscious or unconscious subversive voicing a woman’s frustration at the rigid and sexist social order which enforces subservience and dependence” (337). Others feel that her marriage plots are representative of her allegiance to the social quid pro quo of her time: “Marriage, almost inevitably the narrative event that constitutes a happy ...

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(41). Austen lived in a society where women were expected to be “accomplished,” as Darcy states in Pride and Prejudice, but not well educated (“Notes”). Women of the late eighteenth-century could not attend educational institutions like Oxford or Cambridge. It was not considered necessary for a woman to have knowledge of either Greek or Latin. If a woman received training, it was usually religious or domestically practical. The expected accomplishments of a woman at the time included the ability to draw, singing, speaking modern languages (such as Italian or French), and playing a musical instrument, usually the piano. These accomplishments were required to attract the right (rich) kind of husband.
A woman’s financial status was very important, and yet there was little she could do to improve it. Women of some social standing could not just go out and get a job. The only opportunities for support outside one’s family was work as a ...

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had the right to petition for divorce (in the case of a wife’s supposed adultery) and all child custody rights rested with the father (“Notes”).
These are the realities that four of the most popular of Austen’s heroines had to face. Elinor and Marianne Dashwood’s future prospects of happiness are greatly diminished when they are forced out of their family manor by their father’s death, “and their great-uncle’s injudicious will” leaves the four remaining Dashwoods with little income (Liddell 25). Elizabeth Benet is the second-oldest daughter in a family with five young women and a lack of societal recommendations. Emma Woodhouse is ...

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PAPER DETAILS
Added: 10/28/2006 02:50:45 PM
Category: English
Type: Free Paper
Words: 4380
Pages: 16

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