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Transcript of Jane Austen
Introduction of the Time Period
History of the Romantic/Gothic Time Period
The Life of Jane Austen
Most ardently in love.
Sample from Jane Austen's
"Emma" was written by Jane Austen between 1814 and 1815, and thus ostensibly fell under The Romantics/Gothic Literature time period; however, like most of her literature, did not conform to the typical characteristics of the time.
Romantic Literature: a movement that began in the 18th century which was basically a revolt against the aristocratic society that governed Western Europe. It placed special emphasis on the aesthetic experience and in particular, focused on such sensations like awe, horror, and terror.
Gothic Literature: Gothicism thrived in the 19th century. It is characterized by an emphasis on the mysterious and macabre. Concepts such as magic, hidden passages, bloody hands, screams, ghosts, and other supernatural elements and activities were all central components of the Gothic literary movement.
Jane Austen, considered by some critics to be England's best novelist, was born in Steventon, England, in 1775.
In conclusion, upon critical analysis of Jane Austen's "Emma", we can see that, not unlike most of her other literary works, Austen did not conform to the ideals of The Romantics/Gothic Literature time period under which her success as an author fell; her writing did not necessarily reflect the values of the movement of that time. Romantics introduced an individualist freedom, passion, and intensity into literature; whereas Jane Austen's writings often dealt with old-world conservative views and propriety.
"Emma" is considered by some to be Jane Austen's best novel. It is also her longest novel, and features, as a heroine, a character who, Jane Austen said, "no one but myself will much like" (although I have decided that she is my absolute favourite character in all the Jane Austen novels!). In my opinion, "Emma" presents, in addition to a witty and charming storyline, an interesting question as to the extent that Austen accepts or questions the principle that marriage represents a woman’s maturity and fulfillment.
Jane Austen was the seventh of eight children in the household of the Reverend George Austen and his wife, Cassandra. Jane lived with her parents for the duration of her life, first in Steventon and later on in Bath, Southampton, and Chawton. Although not particularly wealthy, her family was well-educated and well-connected in society. Jane and her older sister Cassandra, from whom she was inseparable, briefly attended boarding school in Reading but continued to receive the majority of their education at home. Jane began writing at the age of fourteen, but it was in her early twenties that Jane Austen wrote the novels that were later to be re-worked and published as "Sense and Sensibility", "Pride and Prejudice" and "Northanger Abbey". She revised "Sense and Sensibility" and "Pride and Prejudice", which were published in 1811 and 1813, and then proceeded to embark on a period of intense productivity in her writing career. "Mansfield Park" came out in 1814, followed by "Emma" in 1816 and "Persuasion" and "Northanger Abbey" were released together in 1818, a year after her death. As a female writer, none of the books published in her life-time bore her real name — they were all described at the time as being written "By a Lady." Jane Austen never married, and died of Addison's disease in 1817, at the age of forty-one.
"To understand, thoroughly understand her own heart, was the first endeavour. To that point went every leisure moment which her father's claims on her allowed, and every moment of involuntary absence of mind.
How long had Mr. Knightley been so dear to her, as every feeling declared him now to be? When had his influence, such influence begun?–When had he succeeded to that place in her affection, which Frank Churchill had once, for a short period, occupied?–She looked back; she compared the two–compared them, as they had always stood in her estimation, from the time of the latter's becoming known to her–and as they must at any time have been compared by her, had it–oh! had it, by any blessed felicity, occurred to her, to institute the comparison.–She saw that there never had been a time when she did not consider Mr. Knightley as infinitely the superior, or when his regard for her had not been infinitely the most dear. She saw, that in persuading herself, in fancying, in acting to the contrary, she had been entirely under a delusion, totally ignorant of her own heart–and, in short, that she had never really cared for Frank Churchill at all!
This was the conclusion of the first series of reflection. This was the knowledge of herself, on the first question of inquiry, which she reached; and without being long in reaching it.–She was most sorrowfully indignant; ashamed of every sensation but the one revealed to her–her affection for Mr. Knightley." (Emma, p 387-388)
Although Emma's character in this story is that of a well-meaning matchmaker, this passage of the novel demonstrates the fact that Jane Austen also created her to be unexpectedly oblivious to her own desires and emotions – it is only when she faces the idea of losing Mr. Knightley to her friend Harriet Smith that she realizes the attachment she has to him, and the feelings she has always had for him. After all the mistakes she has made with other friends in Highbury, including Mr. Elton, Miss Bates, and particularly Frank Churchill, it is this error in judgement that is most surprising for Emma: the realization that her persistent declarations against falling in love and getting married have distracted her from the truth of her innermost emotions. It is also striking that just as Mr. Knightley was the one who was there to guide Emma in reconciliation of her other mistakes, here he is the one around whom Emma's epiphany about herself is focused.
"...[Jane Austen's] brilliantly witty, elegantly structured satirical fiction marks the transition in English literature from 18th century neo-classicism to 19th century romanticism." -Jane Austen Society of Australia
A scene from BBC's 2009 mini-series adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma, starring Romola Garai and Johnny Lee Miller
Jane Austen achieved success as a published author mainly within the time frame of 1811-1818 (and onward), which, if classified according to general time period, would fall under the Romantics/Gothic Literature.
However, as renowned as the literary works of Jane Austen have become in modern society, critics have had difficulty placing them within literary history. Much of Austen's work is well-known for its "gently satirical portraits of village life and of the rituals of courtship and marriage," (SparkNotes Editors) but her work featured during the Romantic period, when most literary works were focused around a very different set of interests and values.
Writers of that time revolutionized literary values – introducing a new-found individualist freedom, passion, and intensity into the world of literature. It could be argued that Romantics, who, as a result of the times, were almost exclusively male, presented a poor outlook on the role of the ambitious woman in literature – in this respect, Jane Austen can be perceived as an early feminist.
Another way scholars sometimes choose to look at Jane Austen's spot in literary history is as part of the "Age of Reason," a time when literature was characterized by commonly being associated with propriety, poise, and wit – often examining the behaviour of both men and women in a single social class.
The Romanticism movement in literature is said to have begun in 1798, with the publication of the first edition of "Lyrical Ballads" by Wordsworth and Coleridge and of the composition of "Hymns to the Night," by Novalis.
In English literature, the cluster of poets commonly considered to be key figures of the Romantic movement includes William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats, Mary Shelley, Percy Shelley, and William Blake.
Important Events and Characteristics of the Romantic/Gothic Time Period (1790-1850)
Other than Walter Scott, Jane Austen is regarded as the most significant novelist in English literature during the peak of the Romantic period, though her essentially old-world conservative views had little to do with the revolutionary Romanticism movement.
The Romantic period coincides with the"Age of Revolutions"–the American (1776) and the French (1789) revolutions–an age of enormous disturbance in political, economic, and social traditions.
Horace Walpole's "The Castle of Otranto" (1764) is generally regarded as the beginning of the Gothic novel era, which would become immensely popular in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
Ann Radcliffe was the most popular and best paid Gothic novelist of 18th century England. Her most renowned stories – "A Sicilian Romance" (1790), "The Mysteries of Udolpho" (1794), and "The Italian" (1797) – remain popular Gothic novel choices today.
The year 1760 marked the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, considered by many to have had a profound influence on the artists and writers of the Romantic movement.
"As has been argued, Romanticism as a literary sensibility never completely disappeared. It was overtaken by other aesthetic paradigms like Realism and Modernism, but Romanticism was always lurking under the surface. Many great poets and novelists of the twentieth century cite the Romantics as their greatest inspirational voices. The primary reason that Romanticism fell out of the limelight is because many writers felt the need to express themselves in a more immediate way. The Romantic poets were regarded as innovators, but a bit lost in their own imaginations. The real problems of life in the world seemed to be pushed aside. As modernization continued unchecked, a more earthy kind of literature was demanded, and the Romantics simply did not fit that bill." (The Literature Network)
Austen, Jane. Emma. 1816. New York: Knopf Publishing Group, 2006. Print.Brians, Paul. “Romanticism.” Humanities 303: Reason, Romanticism & Revolution. Washington State University, 1 Oct. 2004. Web. 3 Mar. 2013.Gamer, Michael. "Romanticism and the Gothic Genre, Reception, and Canon Formation." Cambridge University Press : 27-47. 2000. Web. 3 Mar. 2013."Jane Austen Biography." Masterpiece. PBS, 2012. Web. 3 Mar. 2013.Melani, Lilia. “Romanticism.” Core Curriculum 10.07: The Emergence of the Modern. English Department, Brooklyn College, 12 Feb. 2009. Web. 3 Mar. 2013.n.p. The Jane Austen Society of Australia Inc. (JASA) JASA, 30 June 2009. Web. 2 Mar. 2013.n.p. The Jane Austen Society of North America. JASNA, 29 Jan. 2013. Web. 2 Mar. 2013.Rahn, Josh. “Romanticism.” The Literature Network. Jalic Inc., 2011. Web. 2 Mar. 2013.SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on Emma.” SparkNotes.com. SparkNotes LLC. 2003. Web. 3 Mar. 2013.