View Full Version : Jane Austen Essay

08-01-2005, 12:22 PM
Jane Austen, who is one of the greatest authors, is one of my favorite authors as well. I love all of her books that I have read and enjoy the movies based on them. She wrote about things she knew about and used humor to write about “the lives of minor landed gentry, country clergymen, and families in various economic circumstances struggling to maintain or enhance their social position. The most urgent preoccupation of her young, well-bred heroines and heroes is courtship and marriage.” (1)

Jane Austen was born December 16, 1775 in Hampshire, England. She lived with her family all her life and she never married. Jane started writing as a child to entertain her family. Although she had finished writing Pride and Prejudice in 1798, she published her first novel, Sense and Sensibility, in 1811. She went on the publish Pride and Prejudice in 1813, after much revision. Mansfield Park and Emma were soon published within a few years. Austen always published her books anonymously, this being agreeable to her retiring nature. Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were published 1818, after she died, by her brother, who then revealed her authorship. She was admired in her lifetime as much as she is now. Jane Austen died on July 18, 1817 and was buried in the Winchester Cathedral. In 1925, Sanditon, a novel that Austen was working on when she died was published. Austen is considered an English classic and one of the greatest authors ever. (1)

The first line of Pride and Prejudice is “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” (2) This sentence says it all, it shows the humor that Austen injected into this novel by taking ordinary subjects such as courtship and marriage and elaborately writing of them intelligently. Pride and Prejudice, which is Austen’s best-known novel, is about how first impressions can lead to prejudices and how misguiding these can be. The novel’s central is Elizabeth Bennet, who has four sisters and whose circumstances require that they all marry well. Pride and Prejudice is a clear example of Austen’s humorous outlook of the human’s state of being. While Austen focuses on manners and matrimony, she also focuses on how the feelings of an intellect alter. Pride and Prejudice focuses on everyday events and feelings that people are going through, such as being embarrassed by family and falling in love. I think this novel offers so much delight for a reader because Austen seems to understand the actions of people in love, and presents them with a humorous approach.(2)

Sense and Sensibility, the first to be published of Austen’s novels, is about the lives and romances of two sisters who are very different from each other. Sense and Sensibility is about finding a compromise between love and passion. The novel is about how the sisters react to their romantic hardships, and the lessons they learn from them. Elinor, the eldest of the two sisters, is sensible and believes in being rational, where Marianne is idealistic and passionate. This leads to dramas both in the family and in society. The novel leaves readers wondering if you can really mix love and reason. (3)

Mansfield Park, which was published in 1814, shows Austen’s maturity and shows that Austen had “turned her unerring eye on the concerns of the English society at the time of great upheaval.” (4) The main character is Fanny Price, who is a poor relative living with her aunt and uncle, the Bertrams. This novel is full of sibling rivalry, ambition and greed. When Fanny’s uncle has to leave the family for an extended amount of time, the house is soon thrown into turmoil and becomes full of scandal. Fanny soon finds herself fighting and competing for her cousin Edmund’s love. The story becomes increasingly riveting until the final scandal and the fulfilling conclusion. (4)

“Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with the comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence, and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.” (5) This is the introduction of one of the most memorable characters of Austen’s, in my opinion. Emma believes that she is impervious to love and romance. She is continually trying to do good deeds but instead chaos fills the lives of those near her. Emma is a timeless coming-of-age tale in which Emma searches for her true self and love. (5)

Northanger Abbey, published in 1818, is a humorous twist on 18th-century Gothic “potboilers” such as The Mysteries of Udolpho by Anne Radcliffe. Catherine, the heroine of the novel, is born into a normal life. She grows up liking boyish pastimes, and reading Gothic romances. She is invited to Northanger Abbey, where her imagination runs wild. Austen also mocks so-called “polite” society by the hypocrisy that Catherine’s friends display. Northanger Abbey is considered Austen’s most lighthearted and humorous novel; however it is a serious, cynical novel on love and matrimony, written in the manner of 19th-century Britain. (6)

Persuasion was published, one year after Austen died, in 1818. Although it is a basic love story on the surface underneath it studies human shortcomings and social instability. Anne Elliot, the oldest of Austen’s heroine’s, was in love and engaged to Fredrick Wentworth, when Lady Russell, her female friend, tells her that he is undeserving of her love. Anne breaks off her engagement and spends the next eight years regretting her lost love. Anne’s family has pondered away their money and now must lease Kellynch Hall, their family estate, or lose it for good. While Wentworth is away at sea, making his fortune, his sister becomes the tenant of Kellynch Hall. He returns to find Anne’s family in financial ruins. The novel focuses on whether the two will reunite. I believe that Jane Austen has a talent for exposing English customs and principles with delicately ironic observations. I think that this talent is still shown in Persuasion, her last complete novel. (7)

08-01-2005, 12:24 PM
Jane Austen has been ranked by Entertainment Weekly among the top ten entertainers according to Suzanne Ferris in Jane Austen in Hollywood. Ferris also says that Janet Maslin of the New York Times has called Jane Austen “the posthumous queen of genteel cinema.” Austen’s novels have been made into countless movies and mini-series and I was curious as to why. I personally love Jane Austen’s novel and the majority of the film adaptations that I have seen. Some may say that it’s because people love a good classic romance, I can agree with that. Well, for whatever reason, so many people continue to enjoy film adaptations of her novels and I hope they will for many, many years to come.

There have been many adaptations of Pride and Prejudice; the first one was made for television in the UK in 1938 and starred Curigwen Lewis as Elizabeth and Andrew Osborn as Mr. Darcy. Then, in 1940 came one of the most recognized film adaptations of Pride and Prejudice and it starred Greer Garson as Elizabeth Bennet and Laurence Olivier as Mr. Darcy. Several more were made before the 1995 mini-series broadcasted by the BBC. This adaptation of Pride and Prejudice starring Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth and Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy proved very popular, re-introducing the book to the younger generation and is considered one of the better adaptations. Since the 1995 version, there have been several more made, including an Indian version called Bride and Prejudice, which is a musical adaptation. I watched the 2003 movie adaptation called Pride and Prejudice: A Latter-Day Comedy starring Kam Heskin as Elizabeth Bennet and Orlando Seale as Will Darcy, for which I didn’t care much; it didn’t follow the storyline of the book and was too modern. I am really anxious for the new version to come out, which stars Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet and Matthew McFadyen as Mr. Darcy. I hope this one will follow the book and bring Pride and Prejudice to life. (8)

There have been several adaptation of Sense and Sensibility; the first one was aired in 1971 on television in the UK. This adaptation stars Joanna David as Elinor and Ciaran Madden as Marianne. Then there was another television adaptation of Sense and Sensibility in 1981, which stars Irene Richards as Elinor and Tracey Childs as Marianne. I have found that several people think that this version is truer to the book than the 1995 movie version. In 1995 there was a movie adaptation of Sense and Sensibility which was produced by Columbia/Tri Star Studios and directed by Ang Lee. The film stars Emma Thompson as Elinor, Hugh Grant as Edward Ferrars, and Kate Winslet as Marianne. Emma Thompson also wrote the screenplay, which won an Oscar. There is even an adaptation made in India called Kandukondain Kandukondain (I Have Found It: International US Title). (8)

There have been two film adaptation of Mansfield Park made; the first one is a television mini-series, which came out in 1983 and stars Sylvestra Le Touzel as Fanny Price and Nichols Farrell as Edmund Bertram. In 1999 Miramax/BBC produced a movie adaptation starring Frances O’Connor as Fanny Price and Jonny Lee Miller as Edmund Bertram. (8)

The novel Emma has also produce several adaptations including a television mini-series aired in 1972 starring Doran Godwen as Emma and John Carson as Mr. Knightley. In 1996 two adaptations was released: An American movie and a BBC mini-series produced in the UK. The American movie stars Gwyneth Paltrow as Emma and Jeremy Northam as Mr. Knightley. The mini-series aired on the BBC stars Kate Beckinsale as Emma and Mark Strong as Mr. Knightley. One of the most popular movie adaptations of Emma is Clueless which was released in 1995 and stars Alicia Silverstone as Cher aka Emma and Paul Rudd as Josh aka Mr. Knightley. While the names are not the same and the storyline is modernized the basic theme of the novel remains the same. Although I usually prefer the movies that are loyal to the original storyline of the novel but I also like Clueless because it is cleverly adapted and entertaining movie. (9)

There is only one adaptation of Northanger Abbey. In 1987 a television mini-series starring Katharine Schlesinger as Catherine Moreland and Peter Firth as Henry Tinley was aired. I have never seen or read Northanger Abbey though I plan to, so I cannot personally comment on whether the movie follows the book or not. From the reviews I have seen and heard I can conclude that it follows the storyline well. (9)

There have been two adaptations of Persuasion made. The first one is a 1971 mini-series starring Ann Firbank as Anne Elliot and Bryan Marshall as Captain Wentworth, made in the UK. In 1995 a made for television movie adaptation of Persuasion starring Amanda Root as Anne Elliot and Ciaran Hinds as Captain Wentworth was released. (9)

08-01-2005, 03:20 PM
Very well done, shortysweetp. You state your thesis clearly, supported by facts and your thoughts and opinions in a very organized fashion, always maintaining the reader's attention, never causing confusion. You show to have done much research (which I hope you saved in a works cited page, apart from the essay, and which you might want to post, just in case :p) and provide proper dates, names, and places.
That you began with a brief biography of Jane Austen, wrote summaries of her novels, and their histories, then continued with their movie and mini-series adaptions I found an excellent tactic of organization. Unfortunately, I have only read Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility (probably my favorite), but, as a reader of your essay, you may have encouraged me to read her other novels additionally; so I can definitely feel much potential kind encouragement for further reading in your essay.
This one thought may sound rather petty regards some of your language use, as in the end of the third paragraph:

I think this novel offers so much delight for a reader because Austen seems to understand the actions of people in love, and presents them with a humorous approach.
I only noticed a few of these statements, beginning with "I think . . ." or, for example, "in my opinion . . ." but one of my previous writing professors, while writing essays, suggested making blunt statements, full of fact. One's opinion of a novel does not necessarily have to consist of fact, but, I can see what she meant, it contributes more confidence and grandiosity when merely writing what you thought without the added "I think . . ." etc. This, of course, seems mere opinion.
Well done, regardless, shortysweetp - informative, organized, and I think Jane Austen would have loved it herself. ;)

08-01-2005, 09:19 PM
my professor said that he wanted us to take our research and then state our opinions. I really didnt like doing that because in formal writing the writer is not suppose to use first person or state opinions etc.

ps i do have a works cited which i didnt post as i was pressed for time. my hubby was ready to start a day full of packing. i will post it soon

08-11-2005, 12:33 AM
Hi mono and shortysweetp,

I am aslo a fan of Jane Austen although I just read two of her works they are [i]Sense and Sensibility[i] and [i]Pride and Prejudice[i]. And here as I read shortysweetp's sumary and comments of Jane Austen, her life and works, wOw, these posts have brought up a more comprehensive undersanding about the works and life of my favorite author. Thanks alot.

My english is still not good enough to grasp all the meanings implied there. Yet I love reading and Im really glad that I learn alot from you and this website.

Wish I will be able to play my part in some of your discussions here :-)

08-11-2005, 01:17 PM
thanks and you're always welcome to discuss Austen anytime you want here. I would suggest reading the rest of her novels i love them all. i havent read Northanger Abbey yet but I plan to.

08-11-2005, 10:15 PM
Hi, I see Northanger Abbey is most wanted to read in September. It's be okay for me if this book or Harry Potter and the haft-blood prince wins the poll ;)
Thanks for welcom,shortysweetp!

Egmond Codfried
07-26-2010, 11:38 AM
After reading Emma I was struck by its allegorical nature. The country village of Highbury is Britain. It can be read as a strange, kind of romantic story with a shaky outcome. There is something likeable about Emma, like her forbearance to dissuade Mr. Elton from making her an offer of marriage. But I prefer to read it as a history of England. The key is the charade by Mr. Elton: 'My first displays the wealth and pomp of Kings.'
Emma and her father are royalty. Her vow not to marry reminds one of Elizabeth I. The publisher Murray must have sought the royal approval of the Prince-Regent because the novel is really meddling with royal stuff. The sickly and overcautious Mr. Woodhouse represents the state of the highest nobility after the French Revolution, but also reminds me of the sick King George III.
I'm reading Roger Sales about Jane Austen in the Regency context, which I find very usefull.