Social Structure In Jane Austen

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An understanding of the importance given to class and social structures during the Georgian era is essential when analysing the socio-historical context in the works of esteemed female author, Jane Austen. Her inherent distinction of class is said to be the main source of much of the comedy and irony that is present throughout her works. Society in England during Austen’s era was highly centred around the social lives of the landed gentry and this is thematised in many of her novels. The role of the author is to give existence to a certain social or political position within the narrative of any given text. Austen as an author focused solely on depicting the social lives of the upper middle class in Britain at the time. It is often simple for…show more content…
As a female unmarried author, Austen held the perfect position to observe the explicit nuances of the social distinctions around her. The ideology of social assimilation is evident throughout her works as, at that time marriage was the easiest way for a female to achieve both financial security and a respected rank within society. As an author, Austen constructed her novels around her personal life experiences which commonly featured the powerlessness and exploitation of the unmarried heroine. Being a female author within a highly patriarchal society influenced Austen to publish her works anonymously with her name not appearing on her novels until after her death. Women held a position of inferiority within society at the time and it is this that encouraged Austen to conceal her identity on her novels, “the fact that Austen is a female novelist has made assessments of her artistic enterprise qualitatively different from those of her male counterparts,” (xiv, Johnson). Austen chose obscurity when it came to the publication of her works as being unidentified allowed to her to write with the support of her familial…show more content…
The construction of Austen’s function as an author within her texts can be seen by her development of her personal ideologies through the development of her characters. Northanger Abbey is centred around Catherine Morland, a young female protagonist who is trying to establish herself within society. Within each of Austen’s novel, “we are introduced to a heroine in some way or ways immature, one who has not yet become the person she is inherently capable of becoming, and who has, judging from the circumstances in which she is found, a good chance of failing ever to develop into a person genuinely adult,” (Mathison, 139). At the beginning of Northanger Abbey, we are introduced to Catherine Morland who from infancy no one Austen states, “would have supposed her to be born a heroine,” (5). When Catherine hits her teenage years she began her training to become a respectable young woman. Throughout the novel we see Catherine develop her intellect and begin to establish her own set of principles. It is within the development of the characters and narrative that we begin to see the development of Austen’s ideologies, “in the growth of Catherine, we see Jane Austen's technique and intention, her theory of the value of novels,” (Mathison, 143). As the character of Catherine progresses within the narrative we see that, “she begins gradually to see people as they are, not as
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