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Challenges Women Face in Jane Austen’s Literary Works

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Jane Austen and the Contemporary World

Jane Austen has thrilled the world through her skill in the quill delving into critical issues in our world such as the relationship between the sexes, the role of money within the establishment of marriage, and the comedy of manners. Because of the growing power of feminization and the assertion of the woman’s right in society, Jane Austen grows into a stentorian voice calling for female equality and opportunity. Her novels are set in her own Victorian Age where the role of the woman was confined to the home, however the typical Austen heroines as well as modern women still face the same challenges: social relations, gendered social conventions and marriage.

Austen explores the criteria which the woman ought to follow to improve her nubility, desirability, and her success. The primary books which have gained high notoriety in movie and theatre are Emma, Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility and certain famed adaptations of her autobiography such as Becoming Jane, and Atonement. With the evolved position of the woman, contemporaneity still stands enthralled at Austen’s depiction of the classical Victorian nature of courtship rules and gender mores. It must be noted that in most of Austen’s dénouements, the protagonists endure the affliction of real or imagined betrayal which dissolves into a happy ending by the conclusion. This story line fits it with the preferred style of popular audiences for idyllic love reigns triumphant despite the odds.

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The battle of the balance between reason and sentimentality rages on today as matters of the head and heart still are raised in question. Wit and satire permeate her writings and they constitute another of the reasons for which her work draws so many. Jane Austen’s life has commanded renewed interest for she embodies two main contraventions: her bachelorhood and her successful literary career. Her election to remain single and a writer is singular whereas today’s women are choosing to live lives independent of the marriage institution and pursue her livelihood without the sole support of the man. In the novel/ film adaptation of Jane Eyre, the preponderant themes which emerge are the woman question, religion, social class, childhood and marriage of convenience. The thematic concerns of Jane Austen harmonize will with those of Jane Eyre and Charlotte Bronte, her contemporaries uring the Victorian Era. Other contemporary women artists who highlight these same themes are Jane Austen in all of her works, her cinematographic and biographic representation in “Becoming Jane” and Elizabeth Browning in her most famous poetic work, Aurora Leigh. Jane Austen throws in relief, the struggles of the young woman in search of a place in society.

In Austen novels, the bildungsroman genre is featured where one can trace the growth, development and maturity of the character from childhood or pre-adolescent to adulthood, contending with societal norms and mores, social belonging, abject poverty and her only way for survival – marriage prospects. The other issues that Jane Austen characters must confront are the suitability of marrying above her class, compatibility issues and when she chooses chastity above debauchery. Instead of attempting to marry a married man, she chooses to leave him and fall on adversity. In 19th century England, during the Victorian period such is the lot of the woman. Forfeiting a marriage offer often means penury and a threat to a decent existence. Parellels of this identical circumstance resurface constantly in Austen and her contemporaries – which themes reoccur today, bestowing such timelessness and lending practical relevance to Austen’s novels.

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