Jane Austen

She lived a quite and uneventful life in Steventon and then Chawton (in the English countryside), she never married and spent her time between domestic duties and writing novels. At the time she was writing, England was at war with France, but she always chose to focus on the psychological and social aspects of the smaller provincial environment. Jane’s main interest was people and their relationships. Over the years Austen’s novels have gained enormous popularity (after her death).

In Jane Austen’s time there were great differences between the social classes. The aristocracy remained at the top of the social ladder, they did not have to work to earn a living. Their main occupations were going to parties.

Jane underlined how the aristocracy tended to keep its distance from people who belonged to other social classes, considering them inferior.
Below the aristocracy came the gentry, people of this class owned land but they were not as wealthy as the aristocracy.

Jane Austen’s polished (raffinato) and elegant style is characterized by wit (intelligenza), irony and well-structured sentences. Her greater skill at orchestrating (mettere insieme) conversation plays an important part in bringing the characters alive to the reader.
She lived in a society where women had little or no economic power.
Chronologically her works belong to the Romantic age, a time in which feelings and passion for the world and what was happening in it were paramount (orizzonte) for many writers. Austen remained untouched by the upheavels (sconvolgimenti) which affected other artists of her time.
She was certainly not ignorant of the power of feelings but believed they should be controlled. Her female characters may be independent, but they do not aspire to individualism and real unconventionality like Romantic heroes.

Pride And Prejudice 1813

The Bennet family (Mr and Mrs bennet and their 5 daughters: Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Betty and Lydia) live in Longbourn, Hertfordshire. Charles Bingley, a rich young man will soon live in Netherfield. Mrs Bennet wants her husband to go and meet him, as he might make a good husband for one of her daughters.

The Bennets soon meet Mr Bingley at a ball organized by their neighbours. He arrives with his sister and a friend, Mr Darcy. While Mr Bingley is a very nice man, Mr Darcy is recognized as being snobbish and conceited (presuntuoso). Elizabeth and Darcy meet several times on different occasions and while a love story develops between her sister Jane and Mr Bingley, her prejudice towards him becomes almost unbearable when she hears that Darcy convinced Mr Bingley not to marry her sister Jane.

Darcy’s first attempt at proposal and Elizabeth’s bitter refusal represent the central point of the plot.
Elizabeth, then, learns more about Mr Darcy and his real nature.

In the end she is forced to realise how Darcy has acted in a dignified (dignitoso) and generous manner towards her family on more than one occasion. Darcy later tells her that it was all done in an attempt to win her love. By now Elizabeth is forced to look inside herself and acknowledge how her own feelings towards Darcy have changed. The novel ends with Darcy’s second proposal. This time both characters confess their mistakes and openly express their feelings for one another. It is a happy ending all round: for Elizabeth, Darcy, Jane, Mr Bingley and for everyone in the Bennet family.

Mrs Bennet at the beginning, insists on the subject of “marriage” because girls of that time couldn’t inherit the family’s property, so she didn’t want to lose everything and she needed a man to join the family.

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