Jane Austin And Her Heroines


Jane Austin And Her Heroines Essay, Research Paper

The late Eighteenth and early Nineteenth centuries were eras of momentous change. Diversity became increasingly evident in municipal and social issues as well as in literature. This period marked the cease of the romantic era and the birth of the Victorian era in literature. Such a transition period allowed for a whole new breed of authors and style of writing. One such author who is especially acclaimed for writing during this time is Jane Austen. All six of her illustrious novels craftily combine 18th and 19th century concerns and modes of fiction and together have a thematic unity and a consistent excellence that make them one of the supreme achievements of English literature(”Jane Austen”). A significant component of Austen s success as an author is her capability to portray an extremely vivid sense of psychological realism in each of her fantastic novels. Because of this the reader can quite quickly relate to all of the characters, especially her vivacious and intelligent women heroines.

Austen s most beloved characters are her heroines. Whether it be the spry and witty Elizabeth Bennet of Pride and Prejudice(my favorite book and heroine of all time), the sensible and superior Elinor Dashwood of Sense and Sensibility, the handsome and clever Emma Woodhouse of Emma, the genuine and intelligent Catherine Morland of Northanger Abbey, or the patient and honored Anne Eliot of Persuasion, a piece of Jane Austen is within each and everyone them. Through the portrayal of her heroines, Austen succeeds in arousing the reader s emotions and makes the characters become a component of the reader s soul.

A heroine is a woman noted for courageous and daring acts as well as her special achievements. Emma Woodhouse, “handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her”(Tomlinson 44). Despite her exquisite life, Emma embarks on a “flight from womanhood.” Refusing to relinquish her autonomy for the asinine intent of becoming feminine and inferior,, she rejects marriage and asseverates her sovereignty. Because of her keen wit, Emma

can not be permanently diverted from the truth; she has the courage and desire to accept actuality and genuinely wants to change; she is not fixed by nature or nature in a simple pattern but can grow in response to new influences; and finally, she find the single human being who can understand and appreciate her uniqueness (Smith 65). Emma is an emotional thriller, in the style of Jane Austen. A young woman first rejects the notion of marriage because she is repulsed by the supposition of sacrificing her freedom. In the process of exerting her independence, she denies herself love and almost surrenders the only human being that truly understands her. Emma is not the only heroine with a great sense of self. Elizabeth Bennet is as equally if not more courageous. Miss Bennet has a lively, playful disposition, which delights in anything ridiculous. Elizabeth is free in expressing her opinion and always is ready to laugh at foolishness. She would never ridicule what is wise or good. Follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies do however, divert her. However, there is a serious side to this intelligent young woman. Miss Elizabeth Bennet is a favorite in English literature. For her “sense and conduct are of a superior order to those of common heroines. From her independence of character, which is kept within the proper line of decorum, and her well-timed sprightliness,” she teaches all those who watch her how to know oneself (”Pride and Prejudice” 320). Miss Bennet s superiority does not always manipulate in her favor. Because of her grandeur she comes quite close to sacrificing the only man she could ever love. She is in such a plight of refutation that she, at one time, refuses his hand in marriage. “No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy, would have supposed her born to be a heroine. Her situation in life, the character of her father and mother, her own person and disposition, were all equally against her” (Austen 1). Miss Morland was not to be typical heroine of Jane Austen. Nearly opposite of the other heroines, Catherine s strengths come from her lack of position and her pure innocence. Catherine Morland is one of the first anti-heroines of romance during the Romantic Era. Her family, upbringing, disposition and love life is described as in the terms of anti-romanticism. Miss Morland was born in a period of sadness and depression in Jane Austen s life. The part of Austen that is the most visible in Catherine is the confusion and unsentimental commonplace. Despite or perhaps as a result of this depressing period in Austen s life, Catherine Morland is prided mostly for her genuine personal merit. (need more examples and quotes from the book regarding Catherine)

Elinor Dashwood and Anne Eliot are other strong leading ladies. Elinor Dashwood is a controversial woman in the sense that she is the superior of two sisters. It is unclear if Elinor is portraying Jane Austen or her sister Cassandra. Sensible Elinor is clearly and unambiguously her sister s superior. “Elinor s sense is not all good, it s skeptical yet she has the ability, like most of Austen s heroines, to commit herself fully, immediately and single-mindedly to a person or situation or event and social blunders are sure to follow” (Tomlinson 45). Anne Elliot experiences a life of shared sorrows. She presents herself as a beloved grown-up friend, blest with beauty and patience. Her fine qualities earn her the respect and honor that she deserves.

Love is an emotional that Jane Austen and her heroines are all in search of. Unsure of the dangers involving love, these self-sufficient women all deny their true feelings until they come to the realization that if love is lost it can not be found again. Jane Austen believes love to be a peculiar and controlling emotion. It moves individuals to action and behavior which contradict reason and cause a loss of will; it raises the threat of one s being undervalued, of being taken as fluttery, dependent creature, a female , rather than as a person of intellect and dignity; and it may direct one contrary to one s best intentions. If love is dangerous for a man, with his advantages, how much worse for a vulnerable female.(Smith 65). Because Jane Austen is a part of every one of her heroines and each of them has cognate experiences in devotion, one is inclined to speculate about what transpired in Austen s love life.

Elizabeth s wit and conviction are the same characteristics that can be found in each of Austen s heroines. Jane Austen is her heroines. She gave them life. Catherine Morland s genuine personal merit, Elinor Dashwood s sanity, Anne Elliot s sorrow, Emma s flight from womanhood, and Elizabeth s vibrance is all Jane Austen. Jane Austen was an incredible woman. She was one of the first feminists. In a time when woman had little purpose but to serve men, she not only criticized man but had the respect of many.

Miss Austen saw what was in men (or at any rate women) without loving or hating them. And perhaps in noting human weakness Miss Austen comes near to being judicial as is permitted to the nature of her sex. The title page of her earliest published novel tells us it was written, “By a lady”; and it may fairly be said of her the she invariably conducts her criticism of life in the level tones of a woman of position and breeding(Garnod 42). Austen does not acquire the respect of a great many people solely because of her literary talent; it id her personality that secures her admiration. A major contributor to her abundance of respect is due to her determination. In 1805, when all ventures in intrigue the publishers were ineffectual, Austen resolved to print Sense and Sensibility at her own expenditure. She, like her creations, possesses determination and sheer will to survive; she like her heroines searches for love, and she like her messengers, changed the world. They all live as we do now with the inevitable, interlocking logic of life itself; no part of it can be separate from any other part.

The works of Jane Austen truly are emotional and time-honored classics. She has the genius to arouse emotion and “a fineness of feeling and a moral concern more intense than most of us normally bring to our everyday experiences”(Kettle 48). Emma, often thought to be Austen s most accomplished novel with the exception of Pride and Prejudice, elucidates these untamed passions with its rejection of life in favor of living, the tangible and concrete society. Austen s genuine concern and sensitive vitality capture the imagination. “She succeeds in combining intensity with precision, emotional involvement with objective judgment because of almost complete lack of idealism, the delicate and unpretentious materialism of her outlook” in all of her novels(Kettle 50).

Miss Austen looks out upon life with a perfectly self-satisfied glance, unconscious of that world feeling which lies “too deep for tears”: assuming that everything round about her quite as it ought to be, and likely to continue as it is There is no to-morrow, no suggestion of any possible change in the habits and order of society; a defect, perhaps But within her own sphere, and given her own ideas of life, her work is almost perfect. It is a carving on cherry-stone; but the finish is exquisite, and the effect a miracle if art(Kebbel 36).

Pride and Prejudice is a model of the triumph of Jane Austen s art. It is commended for its emotional expression, its wit, “artistic economy,” polished style and “insightful understanding of the subtle motivations that shape human interactions”(”Jane Austen” 51). Look for some info. On Northanger to put here. Jane Austen is infamous for power to manipulate the human mind. She appears to have the aptitude to fathom everything that the public will contemplate when rendering her masterpieces.

Jane Austen truly was an incredible woman. She not only earned the respect of the people of her times but that of the world. Through her vivacious and extraordinary heroines she leaves a legacy of herself and essence for centuries to come. Jane Austen accomplished that rare feat of becoming one of English literature s most celebrated artists. Although none of her heroines are paragons, they are all successes.


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