Jane Austen by Tony Tanner (auth.)

By Tony Tanner (auth.)

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The Reckless Bride (Black Cobra Quartet, Book 4)

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Extra resources for Jane Austen

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But she knew that such an ideal domestic tranquillity was not always so easy to achieve. Some Jane Austen heroines have to learn their true 'duties'. They all have to find their proper homes. Hannah More's Strictures on the Modern System of Female Education (1799) is indeed a 'strict' work, more emphatic perhaps even than Gisborne's work in its insistence on the crucial and dominant role which should be played by religious instruction and meditation in the upbringing of a young woman. Indeed, one can get the impression that Hannah More's solution to the problems posed by all those blank and unoccupied spaces which inevitably recur in the ideally pure (and ideally empty) life of a well-bred young woman is to fill them with prayer.

Ll Catherine has to be disabused of her naive and foolish 'Gothic' expectations. Here I think Jane Austen has a special bout of fun both with Catherine and the reader. When Catherine, in fear and trembling, rummages in the old chest she finally finds 'a white cotton counterpane, properly folded'. And when she gropes around in the drawers of the old black cabinet - the first four of which are 'entirely empty' - she finally finds a manuscript which in the clear light of day turns out to be 'an inventory of linen'.

Emotion is thus not denied but contained by her rhetoric. In general she mutes, excludes or eludes any kind of violence in her discourse. If she avoids over-direct expression, excessive and potentially distracting particularity, striking metaphors, too markedly arresting peculiarity and idiosyncrasy of individuation, and tends always towards the conceptual, the general, the communal, the sense and values which should be held 'in common', this is because she is constantly enacting and re-creating a requisite decorum and propriety in her language.

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