Jane Austen: The Famous Novelist

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English literature has been divided into several eras, one of which is Romanticism. According to Matt (2016), Romanticism or other terms can be called the Romantic era or the Romantic period is an artistic, literary and intellectual movement originating from Europe towards the end of the 18th century and reaching its peak in 1800 to 1850. In the 19th century, ‘romantic’ means sentimental which emphasizes the lyrics and expression of personal emotions (Matt, 2016). Literary works during the Romantic period were not only poetry but also great novels in English Literature. Jane Austen was a famous novelist during the Romantic period. She has produced many great novels so as to make her a famous novelist. In this essay I will reveal the biography of Jane Austen includes facts that influenced her writing, her works, and political, social, economic, and cultural aspects of one of her novels entitled Pride & Prejudice.

The first is about the biography of Jane Austen. Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775 at Steventon in Hampshire and died after being sick for a year on July 18, 1817. She was the seventh of eight children and the second daughter of Reverend George Austen and his wife Cassandra Leigh. Jane has six brothers and one sister. Family life with many children seems to be an inspiration for Jane, because in her works that she has made big families like Bennets, Morlands or Dashwoods appear in it. Love for family, tenderness, affection, and strong relationships in brotherhood are very important to Jane Austen, it is seen not only in her letters but also in her work.

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George was Jane’s second (illegitimate) brother who was a successful man. Her eldest brother James was a priest, Frank and Charles joined the Royal Navy and Edward who was sixteen years old was adopted by a rich relative who had no children as their heir. Finally Jane’s brother Henry has several careers. He is a soldier, banker and priest. He also helped Jane in publishing her books. The fate, career and names of her siblings were a big inspiration for Jane Austen when she wrote and created male characters in her works. We can find in her books the character of priests (eg Edmund Bertram, Edward Ferrars, Mr. Collins, Mr. Elton etc.), Seamen (eg William Price, Frederick Wentworth), soldiers (eg Mr. Wickham, Colonel Brandon) and in his novel Emma we can also find the character of Frank Churchill who has a similar fate with his brother Edward.

Jane Austen’s only sister is Cassandra. Cassandra is not only her sister, but also a friend, a trusted person, and someone who always supports her. The two sisters were inseparable from an early age. After the death of Cassandra’s fiancé, she never married nor did Jane Austen. Jane and Cassandra spent most of their lives together and when they separated they wrote to each other. When Jane was sick Cassandra took care of Jane during illness and accompanied her at the time of her death. They show a very close relationship between sisters, for example in the case of Elizabeth and Jane Bennets or Dashwood’s siblings.

Jane Austen spent her childhood and early life in the village of Steventon in Hampshire and her last years in the village of Chawton. Usually when living in an environment such as a small village, the community and the number of families visited is limited. Jane Austen has less formal schooling. At the age of seven Jane was sent to school in Southampton with Cassandra but they were seriously ill and they were taken home. Then they were sent to boarding school in Reading where they learned some spelling, sewing, learning French and dancing and playing the piano. Descriptions of such schools can be found at Emma. At the age of twenty-five he moved to Bath and then to Southampton. She also visited London. These places also occur in her works. Descriptions of places, communities and behavioral habits that can be found in her works such as Northanger Abbey and Persuasion and port cities like Southampton may be found at Mansfield Park, the place he described in the city of Portsmouth. London’s social life is explained in Sense and Sensibility.

The second is about works of Jane Austen. In her earlier works around 1795 Jane Austen began working on novels in letters called Elinor and Marianne. This story was later rewritten into a narrative form of the novel and was also renamed and in 1811 it was published as the first Jane Austen novel under the name Sense and Sensibility. Unfortunately the first manuscript did not last, so many changes were made before the publication of the novel. This novel is a story about Dashwood’s two sisters, the older one named Elinor, represents the sense and the younger one named Marianne, represents the sensibility.

Jane Austen began writing the novel Pride and Prejudice. The story in the novel clearly illustrates the conditions of British social life in the early 19th century such as social classes and marriage. It was originally titled First Impression because the appearance of the characters made a plot of the novel. However, the novel also pays attention to the effects of the characters’ first impressions, which are their prejudices. Jane finally found the title Pride and Prejudice which is more appropriate to be used in this novel. Pride and Prejudice are far more fortunate than her previous work and it was published on January 28, 1813.

The last of Jane Austen’s earlier works was called Northanger Abbey, first written under the title Susan. This story was written in 1798 and sold to publisher in Bath in 1803 but he never published it. In 1816 Henry Austen negotiated with the publisher and bought the novel again for his first prize. Northanger Abbey integrates a satire into conventional novels about polite society with one in Gothic terror stories. The novel revolves around Catherine Morland, the pure daughter of a village priest, is an innocent stranger who gets worldly wisdom: first in the fashionable Bath community and then at Northanger Abbey itself, where she learns not to interpret the world through her reading of Gothic thrillers . The novel, titled Northanger Abbey, chosen by Henry Austen, was published posthumously along with Jane’s last novel Persuasion, published in 1818.

In her later works, Jane Austen’s first novel from her second period was Mansfield Park, which was completed in 1814. Many reviewers and readers assume that this novel is the most complex and most serious and on the other hand it is also said that this novel has almost no comic and ironic humor. This story tells the life of Fanny Price, an independent and unnoticed cousin who is cared for by the Bertram family in their rural home. With her moral strength she finally received full acceptance in the Bertram family and married Edmund Bertram. The second later work written in 1815 was Emma. This story centers on Emma Woodhouse, a rich, beautiful, and contented young woman who spoiled herself with attempts to intervene and she was unable to match her friends and neighbors. After the mistakes she made, Emma found her destiny in marriage with George Knightley who was mature and protective. George is a neighbor’s bodyguard who has become her mentor and friend. Finally Jane Austen completed a post that was published posthumously in 1818 together with Northanger Abbey was Persuasion. Before his death Jane Austen began working on another novel with the title The Brothers. She completed only eleven chapters of the novel. The family changed the name of the story to Sanditon and was completed in 1975 by another Lady.

The third is about political, social, economic, and cultural aspects of one of her novels entitled Pride & Prejudice. The first aspect is Political. In Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen does not describe any political conditions that seem to influence the story because the setting, character, or theme is only about people’s lives at that time. No political action or regulation issued by the government during the nineteenth century affected the story line. There are no domestic or foreign political policies that affect any event in this story. She also did not describe the role of society in the political process or the role of society in decision making and public policy.

The second aspect is Social aspect in Pride & Prejudice. In the 19th century, the structure of society in England consisted of three main classes. They are the upper class, middle class and lower class. But Jane Austen in Pride and Prejudice only reflects the two structures of society, the upper class and the middle class.

In Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen points out that the upper class is the Darcy family. It can be seen from their estate, arrogant lifestyle. They live in large estates and they own companies. Fitzwilliam Darcy has an annual income of ten thousand pounds. Another character included in the upper class is the Bingley family. He always has a dance party. He is categorized based on his wealth. His wealth was obtained from the inheritance from his father. As part of the Bingley family, he thought that wearing an elegant dress at every dance was very important to determine his social status. He felt that it showed someone’s pride and position in society. The family of Lady Catherine de Bourgh also represents the upper classes. She is Darcy’s aunt. Like other upper class families, they lived in an elite estate, known as the Rosings garden. This is a beautiful modern building in England.

The middle class is represented by the Bennets and William Collins families. This is categorized based on their income and profession. The Bennet family consists of Mr. Bennet and Ny. Bennet and their five unmarried daughters. They live in Longbourn, a small town in England. Bennet’s income is two thousand a year. William Collins is the Reverend. During Jane Austen’s time, Reverend in the Church of England came from the middle class. The work was seen as a learned and prestigious profession and provided adequate income. Actually, the lifestyle of the middle class is almost the same as the upper class. They like to go to important places where many people gather like attending a dance party.

Jane Austen also described class differences that were actually very rigid in her time. The upper class shows their identity to the people. They don’t want to be seen as the same as other classes. Their appearance is elegant and luxurious. They like to keep the difference in rank maintained. There is a difference between land classes which is determined by the amount of wealth owned by the members. In this novel, for example Miss Bingley underestimate the Bennet family because they are not rich compared to her. This situation was demonstrated when Miss Elizabeth visited her sister in Netherfield.

The third aspect is Economic aspect in Pride & Prejudice. In the sixties and seventies, the British economy was one of the fastest growing in the world. The condition was extremely favorable at that time in all major departments, in agriculture, industry, transportation and foreign trade. New industrialists and traders are gradually increasing as a class, but still haven’t won the right vote. Jane Austen created the character of Mr. Gardiner to reflect that. He is in business and he is not considered a man with a social elite even though he has every personal quality associated with noble descent. Through Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen brought this phenomenon to the fore by drawing on economic arrangements which were largely filled by professions related to agriculture. She made the characters in this novel by profession. For example, Mr. Bennet represents the farmers who process their fields.

The last aspect is Culture aspect in Pride and Prejudice. In the nineteenth century many people especially the upper classes enjoyed excessive aristocratic diets and married women from this class experienced increased leisure time. Many activities take place during leisure time. One of them is a dance party. It is an activity for most people in their free time. In this novel, Mrs. Bennet represented this character because she always encouraged their five daughters to attend the dance party. They come to the dance almost every day when they are free. That was caused by their lifestyle. In the 19th century, most women in England married. After marriage, wives tend to stay home to manage the household and care for the family. In this novel, Charlotte Lucas after being the wife of Williams Collins, she also tends to stay at home and manage the household.

The other main type of marriage that occurs in this novel is marriage outside the social class that occurs in the novel. This happened when someone from a rather high class married a village girl who would be considered a social disaster. This is indicated by Mr. First’s marriage proposal Darcy with Elizabeth. He invited someone from the lower classes.

At that time, everything was judged by the material. The concept of materialism can be seen from the way Mrs. Bennet has a strong opinion on this matter because the situation in life is that he must be selfish and his daughters because if Mr. Bennet dies they will be left with nothing, because all their property will become Mr Collins’s property. Bennet’s mother wants her daughter to get married because if not, they will not have a place to live, her anxiety is so great that she must get her daughter married. In the traditional class system in England, wealth is inherited through the inheritance of family property. The inherited wealth given to the testator is none other than the money obtained from work. Family plantations are usually inherited by the eldest son and sometimes the girls are given a smaller income. In this novel, Mr. Bennet cannot inherit their wealth to their daughters, but he bequeathed his wealth to his male cousin, Mr. William Collins.

In conclusion Jane Austen is one of the famous novelists during the Romantic period. She has produced many great novels so as to make her a famous novelist. It can be concluded that in the novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen reflects the social reality of British society including political, social, economic, and cultural aspects at the end of the 18th century and early 19th century. The dominant aspect included in this novel is the social aspect, especially social stratification and social relations. In this novel Jane Austen also criticizes people who tend to regard social class as the only problem.


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