Research Paper on Jane Austen
In Jane Austen's novels, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Emma she describes how a women's fate is largely dependent on social status. Austen had a keen sense of observation and was able to describe, throughout all three of these works, the lives of upper class women in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. She was able to show in these stories how intricately entwined a woman's life was with the social circle and society's views on a women's proper place.
In the late Eighteenth century a women's choices were dependent upon her social status. A women of middle to upper class had very limited choices as far as employment and marriage. Austen was able to accurately detail all of the important aspects of a woman's life in English society at the time, because she lived it. Austen was born into an upper middle class family, the daughter of a country clergyman and as such knew the life she described so vividly in her novels. Austen had a limited school education, but was later educated at home by reading on her own and being read to in the leisurely evening hours by her father. This was also true of many women in Austen's time. Education was limited to women of the time and even when they were educated, it was only so that they would become accomplished, meaning that they had learned the arts of music, literature and modern foreign languages, and there become more valuable as a wife. The irony was that while many women spent a great deal of time practicing these arts while they were single, most often they gave them up after they were married. This was illustrated in Emma where the new Mrs. Elton talks about how she hoped that she would not lose her musical skills as had many of the women she knew who had married.
The women of the upper class were also not only restricted by educational means, but also by the societal view on what a woman was capable of doing. The women of the upper class were not able to...