Results 1 to 7 of 7

Thread: Narrowness of vision in Jane Austen

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Posts
    25
    Blog Entries
    3

    Narrowness of vision in Jane Austen

    Jane Austen has very few things to say about life and society. She does not possess the vastness of writers like Dickens or George Eliott. She is most comfartable painting pictures of women who are conformists, and except Emma or Elizabeth, none of her women characters are interesting in themselves. All of them seem to be embodiments of ideas.

  2. #2
    Registered User kiki1982's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Saarburg, Germany
    Posts
    3,105
    Austen's direct world may consist of only women, but that is natural. In her age, the only people you socialised with, being a woman, before you were married were women and maybe father and brother(s). Even after marriage, your male circle was probably limited to your father, grandfather (if you were very lucky), father-in-law, brother(s), husband and any sons you may have had the fortune to bring into the world in one piece (both you and the son himself) and you were lucky enough who survived the age of 5.

    However, I think it is unfair to state that Austen's vision is limited. In fact it takes great neutrality of mind and a very broad vision to write satire at all. Satire is the product of minds who think much further than the average person, i.e. who are not shackled to their societal ways. In fact, they tend to think the question 'why' all the time. That is a difficult question to ask about things that are normal. Think how difficult that is. Very few people have such broadness of mind, and to find it in a woman of that day ad age is truly remarkable. Women were badly educated (is Darcy not startled by Lizzie knowing that half a dozen = 6?), they were airheads because they did not know any better (the 'accomplished' lady must be able to walk nicely, must be able to play and speak a few languages [to what purpose apart from to annoy other men in those languages]) and could sometimes be, I can imagine, downright annoying to live with. For Austen to have escaped that fate more or less and to have a mind that actually asks herself fundamental question as to why society acts that way, is singular. Even if here type-casting of characters is easy (it is comedy after all), it is very true and even applies to these days.

    But, the great power of Austen does not lie on the surface, not even in the satire of it all, the great power lies in the shadow story. Her men also have characters you know, albeit not there on the page because her principal character is a woman, but her men also go through hardship. Mr Knightley for example. How jealous he is.

    At any rate, any writers of another age should not be read with modern preconceptions.
    One has to laugh before being happy, because otherwise one risks to die before having laughed.

    "Je crains [...] que l'âme ne se vide à ces passe-temps vains, et que le fin du fin ne soit la fin des fins." (Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Acte III, Scène VII)

  3. #3
    Dance Magic Dance OrphanPip's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Kuala Lumpur but from Canada
    Posts
    4,161
    Blog Entries
    25
    Austen was not a late 19th century realist novelist, why would you expect psychological realism in her works?

    As a writer of comedy, Austen's themes are the perennial comedic themes: social cohesion, marriage, and the family.
    Last edited by OrphanPip; 11-24-2011 at 10:10 AM.
    "If the national mental illness of the United States is megalomania, that of Canada is paranoid schizophrenia."
    - Margaret Atwood

  4. #4
    www.markbastable.co.uk MarkBastable's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    London
    Posts
    3,447
    I'm pretty anti-Austen, but even I'm moved to suggest that you have to judge a writer in terms of what they were trying to do.

    As Pip says, she wasn't a psychological realist. She was an observational satirist.

    To criticise her as you have is a bit like saying that the problem with Dickens is that he completely fails to include any car chases.

  5. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    3,890
    Quote Originally Posted by MarkBastable View Post
    I'm pretty anti-Austen, but even I'm moved to suggest that you have to judge a writer in terms of what they were trying to do.

    As Pip says, she wasn't a psychological realist. She was an observational satirist.

    To criticise her as you have is a bit like saying that the problem with Dickens is that he completely fails to include any car chases.
    True. But she also had some stiff prejudices and aberrations defending aristocratic nonsense.

  6. #6
    Registered User kiki1982's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Saarburg, Germany
    Posts
    3,105
    That was the only notion she had, though. That's the same as the car chase, thing...

    Even if she read newspapers (which is would be on the fence), she would have been affected by the anti-French Revolution propaganda in them.
    One has to laugh before being happy, because otherwise one risks to die before having laughed.

    "Je crains [...] que l'âme ne se vide à ces passe-temps vains, et que le fin du fin ne soit la fin des fins." (Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Acte III, Scène VII)

  7. #7
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Posts
    25
    Blog Entries
    3
    Jane Austen was content to limit herself to the domestic scene. She has a small canvas ,and it was enough for her to draw pictures of the aristocracy, and the nonaristocrats. Her preoccupation with morality deflects her from contemporary issues that served the day. In that sense she is limited. I agree that she is a superior artist, commanding skill in handling ironyand humour.

Similar Threads

  1. Jane Austen - why the fuss?
    By Scheherazade in forum Austen, Jane
    Replies: 59
    Last Post: 05-25-2015, 07:51 AM
  2. Mr Rochester...
    By kiki1982 in forum Jane Eyre
    Replies: 31
    Last Post: 02-17-2011, 10:37 AM
  3. Was jane austen (1775-1817) black?
    By Egmond Codfried in forum Austen, Jane
    Replies: 52
    Last Post: 07-21-2010, 01:57 PM
  4. Saint John in Jane Eyre
    By dirac1984 in forum Jane Eyre
    Replies: 23
    Last Post: 06-23-2010, 11:35 AM
  5. Contemplations on Jane Eyre
    By kiki1982 in forum Jane Eyre
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: 05-24-2009, 07:04 AM

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •