Essay about Feminism in Jane Austen

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Feminism in Jane Austen
"I often wonder how you can find time for what you do, in addition to the care of the house; and how good Mrs. West could have written such books and collected so many hard works, with all her family cares, is still more a matter of astonishment! Composition seems to me impossible with a head full of joints of mutton and doses of rhubarb."
-- Jane Austen, letter of September 8 1816 to Cassandra
"I will only add in justice to men, that though to the larger and more trifling part of the sex, imbecility in females is a great enhancement of their personal charms, there is a portion of them too reasonable and too well informed themselves to desire any thing more in woman than ignorance."
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And it has been pointed out that Jane Austen makes an implicit statement by simply disregarding certain strictures of her era that may not be obvious to modern readers. For example most of Jane Austen's heroines (Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, Elinor Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility, Fanny Price in Mansfield Park, Anne Elliot in Persuasion, and even Emma Woodhouse in Emma) don't have anyone whom they can confide in, or whose advice they can rely on, about certain delicate matters. Thus they must make their own decisions more or less independently (for example, Elizabeth Bennet doesn't reveal to Jane, her sister and closest confidante, her changed feelings about Darcy until he has actually proposed again, and she has accepted). Similarly, in a letter of November 30th 1814 to her niece Fanny Knight, discussing whether Fanny should engage herself to one Mr. Plumtre, Jane Austen wrote: "...you must not let anything depend on my own opinion. Your own feelings & none but your own, should determine such an important point".

Such moral autonomy on the part of young women would by no means have been universally approved of in Jane Austen's day, as can be seen from Sir Thomas's diatribes in Mansfield Park, when Fanny Price is resisting his advice to marry Henry Crawford. Thus another novel writer, (Fanny Burney) had

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