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AUSTEN, JANE.

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Brief summary of Austen's novels & theme of marriage.... More...
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Paper Abstract:
Brief summary of Austen's novels & theme of marriage. Centers on theme of importance of friendship in NORTHANGER ABBEY. Relationship of friendship to marriage and to the characters relationship to the larger society. Austen's emphasis on importance of female friends. Satirical elements of the novel. Plot, characters. Importance of the social order.

Paper Introduction:
Nearly anyone who has been to the movies in the past few years has probably seen a film adapted from one of the novels of Jane Austen, who is having one of those revivals of interest that is sometimes inflicted upon artists from pre-mass media eras. And the most enduring scene from each of these movies is the last one, in which everyone of any importance is happily married off. And yet despite the nearly deafening clangor of marriage bells in Austen’s works, and despite the amount of mental anguish that her characters devote to matchmaking and being matched, the theme of friendship is just as important as that of romantic love, although rarely acknowledged to be so. If Austen’s pages are full of endless dialogue about the importance of love and marriage, it is important to note that all of this dialogue is going on between friends. After a brief summary of Austen’s work, this

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& B. The importance of friendship inimproving the lives of individuals but of not disrupting the overall socialorder is an important aspect of the author's popularity. 112). And yet despite the nearly deafening clangor of marriage bells inAusten's works, and despite the amount of mental anguish that hercharacters devote to matchmaking and being matched, the theme of friendshipis just as important as that of romantic love, although rarely acknowledgedto be so. Austen may have sensed that this was a potentially radical notion,that women could flourish in the company of other women not as a poorsubstitute for the company of their husbands and not as something to dosimply until a man happened to come along and propose, but as an end initself. Austen began as a child towrite novels for her family, and these all reflected the life of a countryfamily in which money was never quite plentiful enough. Jane Austen. Someof these women are spinsters by choice, some not, some still too young tobe spinsters, but all of them thrive on friendship. Catherine can dismiss her intimacy in the followingway not only because Catherine has not yet matured, but because Isabelladoes not fit as easily into the role of sister-friend as does Eleanor: Of her other, her older, her more established friend, Isabella, of whose fidelity and worth she had enjoyed a fortnight's experience, she scarely saw any thing during the evening (p. 98). ReferencesAsh, R. (1995). But whilefriendship is vital and important, it is not revolutionary. Isabella Thorpe is something of an exception to this rule, and it istherefore no wonder that she is more of an observer and more of an outsiderto Catherine's world. Austen's novel follows the travails of Catherine Morland, who whilevisiting Bath with her friend the flighty if pleasant Mrs. Allen, falls inlove with the young clergyman Henry Tilney. Austen's works, including Northanger Abbey, reflect the genteel if notwealthy world in which she was raised. Friendship is notmeant to supplant marriage; that is Austen's official line and certainly areflection of the time. 12). Thewomen of Jane Austen take friends who are outside the fine level ofeconomic distinction that they inhabit, but not entirely outside theirclass. It is also important in that it is friendship to a large degreemasked as a familial relationship" Mrs. Allen is as much mother toCatherine as friend (Johnson, 1995, p. And yet, it is also true that friendship does quiteoften supplant marriage, and Austen's novels (as is life itself) are fullof women who are content to fill their time with female companionship. Austen (1775-1817) has become known not simply as one of the majorfemale English novelists - a position that she held for several decadeslast century - but simply one of the best English novelists because of herbrilliantly witty, elegantly structured satirical fiction. London: Penguin Books.Johnson, C. And yet even it cannot go very far. Nearly anyone who has been to the movies in the past few years hasprobably seen a film adapted from one of the novels of Jane Austen, who ishaving one of those revivals of interest that is sometimes inflicted uponartists from pre-mass media eras. Catherine's and Mrs. Allen's friendship is at the core of the novel,for without it none of the particular events of this novel would takeplace. But her works were no doubt also popular because they resonated withthe popular imagination of the time. In her work canbe clearly seen a clear transition in English literature from 18th-centuryneoclassicism to 19th-century romanticism (Ash and Higton, 1995, p. Born near Basingstoke, in the parishof Steventon, of which her father was rector, she was educated at home andnever lived apart from her family, in which she was the seventh of eightchildren. Northanger Abbey. Friendship for Austen's characters is the glue of daily life,providing a world of interest, emotional support and busyness that isotherwise denied to those who are kept removed from public life. If Austen's pages are full of endless dialogue about theimportance of love and marriage, it is important to note that all of thisdialogue is going on between friends. Although Austen was secretive about her writing, it is important toremember that her works were well received from their publication onward.This was in part no doubt because they were so very different in style fromthe romanticism favored by her contemporaries and her trenchant observationand meticulous details about the quiet, day-to-day country life of theupper-middle-class English was popular because it was refreshing. 78). Retiring to the ancestralTilney home, Morland - who has herself read Radcliffe's novel - sees ghoulsand nightmarish horrors behind every door. Equivocal beings: Politics, gender and sentimentality. Finally, it seems clear that Austen's emphasis on theimportance of female friends (including sisters and other female relativesas friends) probably stems at least in part from her own experiences as aspinster from a large family (Ash and Higton, 1995, p. However, money does not have nearly as much to do with friendship asit does with marriage, and this is one of the reasons that the theme offriendship between and among women is of such importance in Austen's novels- added to the fact that the world in which Austen lived was in many wayssegregated by sex, ensuring that people would draw most of their friendsfrom their own sex. Northanger Abbey is in many ways the most directly satirical of all ofAusten's works, and can be seen as an overt satire on the highly popularGothic romances of the late 18th century, especially a work like AnnRadcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolfo, which centers its actions on a lonelyGothic castle in the Apennines that is in key ways strikingly likeNorthanger Abbey itself )Johnson, 1995, p. We see throughoutAusten's work a certain democratic tendency in the nature of friendship,for women are far more likely to have friends (often many of them) who havemore or less money than themselves than they are likely to have suitors whoare so economically different from themselves. London: Aurum Press Ltd.Austen, J. This lack ofsubstantial riches is an explicit element of Austen's novels, for afamily's wealth had a direct impact on a young woman's ability to marrywell (or even marry at all), and while Austen may satirize the morals ofher time, she does seem to believe rather firmly in the idea that a womanshould marry if at all possible (Ash and Higton, 1995, p. Higton (eds.) (1995). 126). The circles offriendship in Northanger Abbey as in other Austen novels change the livesof the individuals they touch, but leave the whole of society intact. However, the only true horrorproves to be Henry's father, whom he ignores when he asks for Catherine'shand in marriage. Someone like Harriet Smith is as far as an Austen heroine will evergo in friendship. The Austens moved from Steventon in 18 1, living thereafter inBath, Southampton, Chawton, and Winchester. After a brief summary of Austen'swork, this paper looks at the importance of friendship in Northanger Abbey(1818) and how the theme of friendship relates both to the importance ofmarriage and to the characters relationship to the larger society. 11 ). Catherine's friendship Eleanor Tilney is also central to the novel,and the fact that it too comes in the guise of familial ties is importantin understanding Austen's use of friendship in the novel. Friendship may indeed gowhere lines of inheritance cannot. 14). 15).. (1818; 1972). Women below them can receive charity (and honest andsincere charity) but never friendship (Johnson, 1995, p. Chicago: University of Chicago. And the most enduring scene from each ofthese movies is the last one, in which everyone of any importance ishappily married off. By cloaking so many of the friendships in her novels as examples offictive kinship - Mrs. Allen is a surrogate mother or perhaps an aunt,Eleanor Tilney is at first a surrogate sister and then one in law - Austenseems to suggest that women's friendships, even when independently arrivedat, are in fact supported by a web of familial and therefore male-basedfamily links (Johnson, 1995, p.

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