The late eighteenth-century ushered in a heroine with fainting abilities unparalleled in literature; housed in Gothic or sensational novels, she gasped, cried, and loved her way into the hearts of women across Britain. Erotic love and fantastic situations filled plots increasing in absurdity, their female authors spurring an unfortunate label: “feminine” writing. Therefore, when Jane Austen’s novels entered the fray, contemporary critics were shocked by their avoidance of “the Passions” (Bronte). She was too plain, too “spinsterly” (Meynell, 321) in the face of her competitors. Even modern critics, who trend towards feminist perspectives, remark that Austen’s tendency to end novels in prudent, idealistic marriages is the result of weak authorial surrender to society (Irvine, 105). However, through a close reading of irony in these “happy endings,” we find the future is less romantic than it seems. I believe Jane Austen’s novels do argue for imagination and passion as necessary parts of the human experience; however, society - perhaps not Austen herself – calls for these traits to be controlled through public lies. By dissecting the minds and marriages of Catherine Morland and Marianne Dashwood, I aim to argue that Northanger Abbey and Sense and Sensibility paint sad portraits of a woman’s emotional duties in Regency Britain – and subtly reveal possible alternatives to “I do.”
I am diligently writing my paper due Tuesday (...ahem...except for just watching Shakespeare in Love...shhh), and don't have time to write a full blog post. It's boring, anyways. I read, I write, I read, I write some more. To appease you guys some, though, here is the introduction to my paper. Proof this trip is worth it.