Essays About Jane Austen

Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775, at Steventon Rectory in Hampshire, England. Her father, Reverend George Austen (1731-1805) was the rector at Steventon. In 1764, he married Cassandra Leigh Austen (1739-1827) who was from a patrician family. Jane Austen was the youngest of George and Cassandra's eight children - she had six brothers and one sister. The family was tightly-knit, and Jane was particularly close to her sister, Cassandra, and her brother, Henry, who would later became her literary agent.

George and Cassandra Sr. sent Cassandra and Jane (who was only 8 years old at the time) to Oxford and Southampton to be educated. However, after Jane nearly died during an outbreak of typhus at their boarding school, both girls returned home to continue their studies. From 1785 to 1786, Jane and Cassandra attended the Reading Ladies Boarding School, where they studied French, spelling, needlework, music, and dancing. Economic hardships forced the girls to return home once again. Their father maintained a large library and indulged his daughters' curiosity with plenty of reading material. As a result, Jane and Cassandra continued to develop their literary talent despite their lack of a formal education.

Beginning in her teen years, Austen wrote poems, stories, and comic pieces for the amusement of her family. She compiled several of the pieces she wrote between 1787 and 1793 into three bound notebooks, which scholars now refer to as Austen’s “Juvenalia.” Austen expressed an interest in drama and comedy; she often staged theatrical productions at home with her siblings. As she continued to experiment with writing, Austen became adept at parodying the sentimental and Gothic style of eighteenth-century novels. Among Jane Austen's early works is a comic novel with the deliberately misspelled title, “Love and Freindship,” a satire of the “History of England,” and “Lady Susan," an epistolary work. During this time, Austen also began to sketch out ideas for the novel that would later become Sense and Sensibility.

In 1795, Austen met Tom Lefroy, the nephew of her neighbor at Steventon. In her letters to Cassandra, Austen wrote about spending a great deal of time with Lefroy and hinted at her romantic feelings for him. Unfortunately, a marriage between them was impractical, and LeFroy’s family soon sent him away. After the conclusion of her brief romance with Lefroy, Austen began work on a second novel called First Impressions, which would later become Pride and Prejudice. After that, Austen began to revise her initial outline for Sense and Sensibility and developed Northanger Abbey, a satire of the Gothic literary genre.

The Austen family resided at Steventon until 1801, when Reverend Austen announced his retirement from the ministry. He then moved the family to Bath. Jane was unhappy about leaving her childhood home, which resulted in a sudden decrease in her productivity. During her time at Bath, Austen only made minimal revisions to her draft of Northanger Abbey and started (but soon abandoned) a fourth novel.

While in Bath, Austen also received her only marriage proposal: from Harris Bigg-Wither, the younger brother of a family friend and an Oxford graduate who was six years Austen's junior. Bigg-Wither was supposedly unremarkable both physically and intellectually, but his considerable fortune made him an attractive bachelor. Jane Austen initially accepted his proposal, but changed her mind the following day and rescinded her promise. Turning down a marriage proposal was a significant decision for a woman during this time period, as marriage was the only way Jane would have been able to gain independence from her family. Marrying Bigg-Wither would also have allowed Jane to provide a home for her sister, Cassandra, and could even have helped Austen's brothers in their efforts to secure better careers.

After George Austen's death in 1805, Jane, her mother, and her sister had to move in with her brother Francis because of their unstable financial position. In 1809, they moved to a cottage at Chawton, where Jane's wealthy brother Edward had an estate. Life in Chawton was much quieter than it had been in Bath, which gave Jane Austen the opportunity to write more often. While living at Chawton, four of her novels were published anonymously: Sense and Sensibility in 1811, Pride and Prejudice in 1813, Mansfield Park in 1814, and Emma in 1815. In July of 1816, Austen completed the first draft of her next novel, entitled “The Elliots.” It would later be published as Persuasion.

In early 1816, Austen suffered an onset of illness that culminated in her death the following year. Most biographers believe that she suffered from Addison’s Disease. Despite her illness, Austen continued to write, revising the ending of “The Elliots” and starting work on “Sandition.” She died at the age of 41 on July 8, 1817 and was buried at the famous Winchester Cathedral. Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were published posthumously (as a set) in 1817. However, Austen was unable to finish “Sandition” before her death.

Austen’s novels mostly focus on themes of courtship and marriage. However, her work stands out because of her sharp, satirical depiction of late 18th century English society. She is still one of the most studied and influential novelists of her time, largely because she was creating strong, unusual female characters during this period (known as the Regency period), and also for her mastery of form, satire, and irony. In 1833, publisher Richard Bentley published the first collected edition of Austen’s novels. Since then, her works have been continually in print.

As with many great authors, Austen died before she gained significant public recognition. Although her novels were fashionable with prominent members of British society like Princess Charlotte, the daughter of the Prince Regent, critics largely ignored her work. In the twentieth century, Austen’s novels began to attract attention from literary scholars who conducted serious academic studies on her texts. Over the past several decades, there have been more than 200 literary adaptations of Austen’s novels, as well as numerous film versions.

Jane Austen, who is one of the greatest authors, is one of my favorite authors as well. I love all of her books that I have read and enjoy the movies based on them. She wrote about things she knew about and used humor to write about “the lives of minor landed gentry, country clergymen, and families in various economic circumstances struggling to maintain or enhance their social position. The most urgent preoccupation of her young, well-bred heroines and heroes is courtship and marriage.” (1)

Jane Austen was born December 16, 1775 in Hampshire, England. She lived with her family all her life and she never married. Jane started writing as a child to entertain her family. Although she had finished writing Pride and Prejudice in 1798, she published her first novel, Sense and Sensibility, in 1811. She went on the publish Pride and Prejudice in 1813, after much revision. Mansfield Park and Emma were soon published within a few years. Austen always published her books anonymously, this being agreeable to her retiring nature. Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were published 1818, after she died, by her brother, who then revealed her authorship. She was admired in her lifetime as much as she is now. Jane Austen died on July 18, 1817 and was buried in the Winchester Cathedral. In 1925, Sanditon, a novel that Austen was working on when she died was published. Austen is considered an English classic and one of the greatest authors ever. (1)

The first line of Pride and Prejudice is “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” (2) This sentence says it all, it shows the humor that Austen injected into this novel by taking ordinary subjects such as courtship and marriage and elaborately writing of them intelligently. Pride and Prejudice, which is Austen’s best-known novel, is about how first impressions can lead to prejudices and how misguiding these can be. The novel’s central is Elizabeth Bennet, who has four sisters and whose circumstances require that they all marry well. Pride and Prejudice is a clear example of Austen’s humorous outlook of the human’s state of being. While Austen focuses on manners and matrimony, she also focuses on how the feelings of an intellect alter. Pride and Prejudice focuses on everyday events and feelings that people are going through, such as being embarrassed by family and falling in love. I think this novel offers so much delight for a reader because Austen seems to understand the actions of people in love, and presents them with a humorous approach.(2)

Sense and Sensibility, the first to be published of Austen’s novels, is about the lives and romances of two sisters who are very different from each other. Sense and Sensibility is about finding a compromise between love and passion. The novel is about how the sisters react to their romantic hardships, and the lessons they learn from them. Elinor, the eldest of the two sisters, is sensible and believes in being rational, where Marianne is idealistic and passionate. This leads to dramas both in the family and in society. The novel leaves readers wondering if you can really mix love and reason. (3)

Mansfield Park, which was published in 1814, shows Austen’s maturity and shows that Austen had “turned her unerring eye on the concerns of the English society at the time of great upheaval.” (4) The main character is Fanny Price, who is a poor relative living with her aunt and uncle, the Bertrams. This novel is full of sibling rivalry, ambition and greed. When Fanny’s uncle has to leave the family for an extended amount of time, the house is soon thrown into turmoil and becomes full of scandal. Fanny soon finds herself fighting and competing for her cousin Edmund’s love. The story becomes increasingly riveting until the final scandal and the fulfilling conclusion. (4)

“Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with the 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.” (5) This is the introduction of one of the most memorable characters of Austen’s, in my opinion. Emma believes that she is impervious to love and romance. She is continually trying to do good deeds but instead chaos fills the lives of those near her. Emma is a timeless coming-of-age tale in which Emma searches for her true self and love. (5)

Northanger Abbey, published in 1818, is a humorous twist on 18th-century Gothic “potboilers” such as The Mysteries of Udolpho by Anne Radcliffe. Catherine, the heroine of the novel, is born into a normal life. She grows up liking boyish pastimes, and reading Gothic romances. She is invited to Northanger Abbey, where her imagination runs wild. Austen also mocks so-called “polite” society by the hypocrisy that Catherine’s friends display. Northanger Abbey is considered Austen’s most lighthearted and humorous novel; however it is a serious, cynical novel on love and matrimony, written in the manner of 19th-century Britain. (6)

Persuasion was published, one year after Austen died, in 1818. Although it is a basic love story on the surface underneath it studies human shortcomings and social instability. Anne Elliot, the oldest of Austen’s heroine’s, was in love and engaged to Fredrick Wentworth, when Lady Russell, her female friend, tells her that he is undeserving of her love. Anne breaks off her engagement and spends the next eight years regretting her lost love. Anne’s family has pondered away their money and now must lease Kellynch Hall, their family estate, or lose it for good. While Wentworth is away at sea, making his fortune, his sister becomes the tenant of Kellynch Hall. He returns to find Anne’s family in financial ruins. The novel focuses on whether the two will reunite. I believe that Jane Austen has a talent for exposing English customs and principles with delicately ironic observations. I think that this talent is still shown in Persuasion, her last complete novel. (7)

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