British Literature

Feminism of Jane Austen in Emma



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Jane Austen lived in a period at the turn from the 18th century to the 19th century, and that era was a period of mixed thoughts, which conflicted all the time. Among all the conflicts, the most important one was the disparity in social status between men and women. Not only men's status was in the center of the society but also common people thought it was right that men were much more important than women were. Under this circumstance, women became commodities. Their world was in their houses and their jobs were to attend their husbands. Facing this problem, Jane Austen could not do anything but fight with her own pen.

Jane Austen's feminist consciousness were the culmination of a line of development in thought and fiction which went back to the start of the eighteenth century, and which deserved to be called feminist since it was concerned with establishing the moral equality of men and women and the proper status of individual women as accountable beings. She sharply pointed out that the economic situation decided women's social status, which had made her different from other feminists, pressing on gender characters of women. In order to change women's living condition, Austen pointed that women should clearly realize that they should consider mutual love besides loaves and fish. And that would need sense. She thought that only when they reached the balance between sense and sensibility would they achieve the same balance between thoughts and material.

In Victorian Society, it could be imagined that if a woman could get married, and could marry a rich man even though the man was not her true love, her marriage could also change her social status. Austen dragged people back to the real world and created a new kind of woman. They never took the idea of marrying a man as a life-devoted purpose. They purposed true love, which was based on mutual equality and respect. From women's liberation, feminist consciousness was helpful for women to develop themselves and realized their ideal conscientiously. From the practical society, it provided women with theoretical basis for realizing their life aim. Specifically speaking, feminist consciousness contained the different and complex women's values they're thoughts on the career, the right, the attitude toward happiness, the view of marriage and the value, etc. Jane Austen's novel Emma was basically a biography and a mature one.

Austen reappraised and had the esteem for women's value. Advancing and emphasizing feminist consciousness was an inexorable trend for the development of women's liberation. Thus, they occupied an important position in British literary history. Jane Austen was different from the other women novelists of her age in which she possessed a keen realistic insight and she ruthlessly exposed and severely criticized some maladies of the society, so her novel was characterized by the unique feminine and keen realistic insight. However, she was also different from the other female novelists because she wrote from a keen feminine visual angle, which male novelists often failed to do. Her novels were concerned about women's lives and their unfair conditions in society, especially in education, marriage, etc. Feminist consciousness focused on the women characters' inner lives during their self-development written by women writers. Jane Austen's novels were often compared with Shakespeare's comedies, and she always described people's vivid characters and their attitudes towards marriage, which symbolized reconciliation and harmony. The novel had been concentrated throughout to make us judge between material and moral criteria.

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