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"Jane Austen, 1775-1817," pp. 551-553. Northanger Abbey . Jane...

"Jane Austen, 1775-1817," pp. 551-553.

   Northanger Abbey.

Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey annotated.pdf  

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from James Fordyce (re Northanger Abbey).pdf

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Jane Austen creates self-determined, strong female protagonists. Though each has a significant lesson to learn in the novel, Elinor Dashwood, Elizabeth Bennet, Fanny Price, Anne Elliot, and (probably eventually, though the novel was not finished) Charlotte Heywood are the moral and intellectual centers of their respective novels. To a greater or lesser extent, the male characters in these novels range from silly to significantly flawed in some way. Only Emma seems to be an exception: Emma Woodhouse is the more flawed character, who needs to be redeemed by Knightly (of course!), and must go through a significant learning curve before she can achieve self-awareness, and assume her place at the head of her society.


This is probably one of the reasons that Austen's novels continue to play so well in the present, unlike other female characters who seem less relevant and sympathetic now.


Although feminism as we know it did not exist in Austen's time, the early stages of what would become a significant feminist movement are being established by Mary Wollstonecraft (A Vindication of the Rights of Woman) just a decade before Austen begins publishing her novels.


Though it was published after her death, Northanger Abbey was her first finished novel. Should we regard her as an anomaly among Austen's heroines, or does she exhibit attitudes and behaviors that qualify her to join her comrades in the Austen pantheon? Most importantly, why do you hold this opinion?

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