On December 16, 1775, Jane Austen, British novelist was born to George and Cassandra Austen in Steventon, England. Due to her father being a clergyman, she spent most of her life growing up in a rectory in Hampshire, England (Collins). There she would become well associated with the high society life, which would inspire her novels to come (Jane Austen U*X*L).
In 1783 at the age of eight Jane and her sister Cassandra started their education. They where taught by their aunt Ann Cooper Cawley, until Typhoid Fever broke out and they where forced to return home (Jane Austen- Biography) (Wiehardt). After everything returned to normal, the two sisters attended Abbey School (Wiehardt). The girls' education continued beyond their years at school. The Austen girls continued their education at home, at the direction of their father and brothers (Jane Austen- Biography).
During 1787 Jane began to discover her love for writing. "It became quite common for the family to invest time and energy into making home-based productions of existing plays or writing and acting out their own creations. One can only assume that it was in these exercises that the true talent of Jane Austen was being nurtured - through observation, improvisation, acting and participation" (Jane Austen- Biography). Mr. Austen encouraged this new interest by allowing Jane full access to his library, paper and writing tools (Jane Austen- Biography). One of the first things Jane began writing was a series of short stories and poems that would later be compiled into three notebooks and titled the Juvenilia. While this new love for writing grew, Jane discovered her favorite poet Crabbe Cowper (Jane Austen's Literary)(Southam 4). While Jane was a bookworm, she was not disinterested in romance.
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"In 1795, a nephew of nearby neighbors began placing several visits to Steventon. His name was Tom Lefroy, a student studying in London to be a barrister"(Jane Austen- Biography). This is the only time that Jane admits to falling in love, but the relationship did not last due to the lack of fortune on both sides. Lefroy's family intervened and sent him away, thus Jane never saw him again (Jane Austen- Biography).
There was one other instance where Jane was proposed to by a Mr. Harris Bigg-Wither. At first she accepted for the financial benefits, but the very next day withdrew because she thought it would be a mistake (Jane Austen- Biography). Jane would never marry.
During August of 1796, Jane began writing First Impressions. This would later be known as Pride and Prejudice; which would become her most famous novel, and would be loved for centuries to come. She also wrote six other novels similar to Pride and Prejudice, which would bring her small profits to support her family in coming trials (Jane Austen- Biography).
A few years later Jane's father unexpectedly announced his retirement from the ministry. He then proceeded by moving the Family from Steventon to Bath (Jane Austen- Biography). Where suddenly, George Austen passed away. This left his entire family in a state of shock and disarray. Plans were quickly arranged for the Austen brothers to support their mother and two sisters, since women in that time could not support themselves. For the next five years, Jane dropped all of her writing while the three of them moved from apartment to apartment. Finally a gleam of hope appeared when brother Frank Austen "offered up a six-bedroom cottage in Chawton near his estate for the women to permanently move into as their own home" (Jane Austen- Biography). On Monday October twenty-fourth, the three women moved into their new home. This would be Jane's final home (Southam 9).
Finally, Jane finished revising First Impressions. She then sold the copyright to Thomas Eegerton for publication, earning a total of 110 pounds.
Two months and twenty-eight days later Pride and Prejudice was published. "Thanks to a large amount of resources put into advertising the piece, the novel is an instant success" (Jane Austen- Biography).
After three years and four more successful novels, Jane became ill. At first she did not let onto the severity of her illness and continued to go about her daily life. Then finally, her family, could no longer ignore the symptoms and she was confined to her bed because of loss of energy. It later turned out to be Addison's disease (Southam 9). On Saturday, May 24, 1817 Cassandra took Jane to Winchester for treatment, but within two months she was dead. Her brother Henry saw to it that she was buried, "in an aisle of the nave at Winchester Cathedral" (Jane Austen- Biography).
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Shortly after Jane's death her nephew James Austen wrote a life story on Jane, called "A Memoir of the Life of Jane Austen" (Jane Austen- Biography). This book would "bring Jane's life and works to a greater audience, solidifying her place in history" (Southam 26). "Of all the great English novelists, Jane Austen is the only one to survive into the late twentieth century with such a devoted followingâ€¦Jane Austen is the most widely enjoyed and in many ways the most English of all English writers" (Southam 32).
Overview/Summary of Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen is "one of the best-loved English novelists, who wrote with a keen sense of irony about the social institutions of her time" (Collins 892). Although she did not know it at the time, Pride and Prejudice would become her most famous work. Pride and Prejudice was completed in August 1797, and submitted it November 1812, to Eegerton Publishing House after some revising had been done. It was accepted and published by January 1813 (Jane Austen Novel)( Jane Austen- Biography).
Pride and Prejudice Tells the tale of the Bennets a family with five unmarried daughters and a mother who clearly felt the pressure of finding suitable marriages for each of them. As the story begins to shape a Mr. Charles Bingley rents the Netherfield Park. This causes great excitement in the village of Longbourn. As anyone could assume Mrs. Bennet is elated and cannot wait for the first opportunity to meet this new young, eligible and wealthy bachelor. At first Mr. Bennet refused to go and visit Netherfield, which caused a great dispute in the household. Finally he relented and went to see Mr. Bingley.
Shortly after this the Bennets attended a ball where Bingley happened to be accompanied by his two sisters and Mr. Darcy, a close friend. While they where their Mr. Bingley found interest in the oldest daughter Jane and danced with her almost the entire night. During this Mr. Darcy refused to dance with any women including Elizabeth. Therefore everyone at the party, believed him to be a rude, and snobbish man. Although after a few more encounters, Darcy began to develop an interest for Elizabeth Bennet. As his love for her grew, so did Mr. Bingley's for Jane. When Elizabeth discovers Darcy's feelings for her, she placed a large "buffer" between them.
During all of this, the girls had become good friends with a militia that was staying in town, especially one man in particular, Mr. Wickham. At first he tried to make a play for Elizabeth and told her false things about Darcy to further her dislike for him, but later Elizabeth finds out he was lying to her.
When winter comes, Mr. Bingley and company returned to London. "The marriage prospects for the Bennet girls appeared bleak"(SparkNotes). During the winter Jane went to visit some friends in England hoping to see Mr. Bingley, but ends up not seeing him at all and having an encounter with his rude sister.
As spring came, Elizabeth went on a trip to visit her friend Charlotte Lucas. While there, she also visited Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Darcy's aunt. During this visit Darcy called and continued to until finally proposing to Elizabeth, who quickly refuses, telling him how arrogant he is. Before returning home, she received a letter from Darcy trying to make amends for his attitude the last few times they had been together. He told her that Wickham's lies were not true and that he had tried to elope with his sister.
Now its, June and to her horror, Elizabeth finds out that while visiting the Gardiners, a family relative, her younger sister Lydia had run off and eloped with Wickham. She returns home and at first they are nowhere to be found. "Just when all hope seems lost, a letter comes from Mr. Gardiner saying that the couple has been found and that Wickham has agreed to marry Lydia in exchange for an annual income. The Bennets are convinced that Mr. Gardiner has paid off Wickham, but Elizabeth learns that the source of the money, and of her family's salvation, was none other than Darcy" (SparkNotes). When they return to England where Mr. Bennet treats them coldly.
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During all of this, Mr. Bingley has returned and proposed to Jane. Shortly after that, Elizabeth and Darcy meet and he tells her that his feelings are still the same, and proposes for the second time. This time Elizabeth accepts and both Jane and Elizabeth are married. Everyone is happy and celebrate the new marriages.
Jane Austen had many influences throughout her life It is believed that Jane used these experiences to underlay many of her stories. One instance is her family. For example, family is always entwined in Jane's writings. She had been close to her own family and spent many hours with them.
Although Jane never married she did have a few relationships. But sadly none lasted due to a number of circumstances. Despite their love for each other Tom Lefroy, was not allowed to marry her because she had no money. Harris Bigg-Wither proposed regardless of her financial lack, but she did not love him, so withdrew. Once death even stopped her from marrying the Irish man that she loved. Research doesn't show much about him, except for the fact that he and Jane where seeing each other and that he was going to propose but died unexpectedly before he had the chance. This left Jane disappointed and heart broken. According to Julia Kavanagh, "If we look under the shrewdness and quiet satire of her stories, we shall find a much keener sense of disappointment than of joy fulfilled. Sometimes we find more than disappointment" (Southam 10).
After the passing away of her "father and a close friend, she appeared to have given up writing" (Jane Austen U*X*L). This was probably the most devastating period of her life. Once George Austen had been buried, Jane, her sister and mother moved from place to place until they found a new home in Chawton. It was not until then, that Jane began to write again (Jane Austen U*X*L). It is believed that the comforts of having a home kindled the desire and need to write once more.
Austen's works had several main themes. Family, class, marriage and courtship. These themes are carried throughout all of her books.
In Pride and Prejudice the Bennet's are closely knit. Although they are constantly in each other's business, they love to spend time, together and help each other out when things are hard. Courtship is another theme. For example, When Jane and Mr. Bingley, went to balls, they danced the entire night. They went on walks and enjoyed each others company. Romantic themes are always embedded in Jane's novels. She never seemed to write a book without some type of love story.
In Jane's novels, it was clear that marriage should be for love, not money. She also made the point that people deserve a second chance. For example in Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet had to give Mr. Darcy a second chance after he had so rudely treated her at a ball.
The theme of class was very important in the books Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. There were many instances where people weren't given the permission to marry, or even be friends, because of financial differences or class. However Austen's heroines usually discovered class did not matter and that if they love each other they should be together.
In Jane Austen's novels there is many literary devices. Satire is one that she used constantly.
Satire is a mode of writing that "arouses laughter or scorn as a means of ridicule and derision, with the avowed intention of correcting human faults" (Satire). Jane uses satire in Pride and Prejudice to ridicule society's importance of class. She viewed it as a silly idea people have created to separate not as fortunate people from themselves.
Jane also used many motifs. A motif is just a "reccurring element in a literary work" (Motif). One motif that Jane Austen often used was courtship. In Pride and Prejudice you see two main relationships bloom. Which are Jane and Mr. Bingley's and Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy's relationships. But in the book you also see several other ones, for example the one between Lydia and Wickham and the one between Charlotte Lucas and Mr. Collins Sometimes the relationships start off well like the one between Jane and Bingley and others like Elizabeth's and Darcy's. When they first met, their personalities repelled and it took almost the entire novel before they began to change their prideful and prejudiced ways.
Jane and Elizabeth Bennet are the two main female characters. Jane is the eldest of five girls and supposedly the prettiest. "Her nature is similar to Mr. Bingley in that she is kind and sweet-natured and is determined to think well of everyone" (Jane Austen Novel). Elizabeth has a vigorous personality and is best friends with her sister Jane. She is well like by everyone she knows except Mr. Darcy.
Mr. Bingley is the new eligible bachelor in town. He has found interest in the Bennet's oldest daughter Jane. "He is just what a young man ought to be, sensible, good-humored, and lively!" (Jane Austen Novel).
Mr. Darcy is a friend of Bingley and causes tension after meeting Elizabeth Bennet. He is an arrogant and self-righteous man who believes marrying a Bennet girl would be beneath his social class.
Mr. Bennet is Jane and Elizabeth's father. He proves to be quite an amusement during the book. He is very fond of "satirical wit, some of the best lines in the book are said by him" (Jane Austen Novel) He believes his three youngest daughters are the silliest girls in the country, and yet does nothing to correct their foolish ways until the unimaginable has occurred.
Mrs. Bennet is married to Mr. Bennet and the mother of Jane and Elizabeth. During the book you see that she is extremely fixated on her daughters marrying well. Although she usually caused a negative reaction around any future husbands. She is constantly embarrassing her family and doesn't know how to stay out of her children's lives (Jane Austen Novel)!