A Reading of Jane Austen by Barbara Hardy

By Barbara Hardy

A interpreting of Jane Austen (first released by means of Peter Owen in 1975) has demonstrated itself with critics and readers as an excellent contribution to the becoming literature in this writer, filled with clean and stimulating perceptions. imperative to the notice is Bar

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Marianne bursts into tears when Mrs Ferrars, rich old enemy of love, snubs Elinor. The drama of strain and breakdown plays realistically into the hands of social criticism. Jane Austen here uses a collapse of nerve and formality to suggest, most decorously, the shams and distortions which uphold decorum. Marianne moves half-consciously to attack the acquisitiveness of which she is an unknowing victim: 44 A Reading of Jane Austen 'Hum'—said Mrs. Ferrars—'very pretty,'—and without regarding them at all, returned them to her daughter.

One failure in control leads to another, offensiveness and discord sadly disrupting the festive intentions of leisure, play, harmony and exploration. Jane Austen, like that later great satirist and social chronicler, Thackeray, knew that the heightened and heady air of parties, even such unorgiastic ones of Highbury and Donwell, could stimulate revulsions and revolutions of feelings. The festive occasion gives scope to the clandestine, the artful, the over-playful play of feeling and false feeling.

Jane Austen restricted her presentation and analysis of society, but her group-dramas often make implicit analyses of social response and interaction. She composes her groups of minds, feelings, morals and styles, and sets them in action. They interact to offend, match, compromise and change each other. The group is examined, not merely displayed, but her examination is overt and implicit. Her groups are never shaped by the simple conflicts or convergences of humours as they are in Richardson and Fanny Burney, and the comic drama of the eighteenth and seventeenth centuries.

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