Contextualization (J.A.) Copy

JANE AUSTEN (1775-1817)


  • Continuous development of the British Empire;
  • The War with France (1778-1783): dominion over world markets and trade routes.
  • The French Revolution (1789-1799).


Three social classes:

  • Landowners and aristocracy;
  • Businessmen and industrialists;
  • Masses.

The Agricultural and Industrial revolutions transform Britain into a highly industrialized urban society;

In the middle and upper classes, women are dependent on their fathers or husbands, so their existence revolves around finding a good match to secure the future.


Although she lived during the Romantic age and a period of major changes (the French Revolution and Napoleon’s wars) there is no reference to these events in Jane Austen’s novels. Her writing belongs to post-romanticism (with some classical traits) and prefigures realism and the pre-Victorian age.


Literary trend: REALISM

Principles of realism:

  • normal situations and ordinary characters are described in familiar settings
  • very little use of metaphors
  • literature strives to be true to reality and “hold up a mirror to life”.

Realistic novel traits (the novel is the best form of expression for realism, as it describes the world faithfully and doesn’t idealize it):

  • Major theme: the place of the individual in society, the aspiration of the main character for love or social position;
  • Long, dense, with complicated plots;
  • Physical descriptions of characters are realistic.


She lived an isolated, discreet life, was never married, and spent most of her time reading and writing;

Home and boarding school educated with curricula specific to girls’ schools of the time (French, spelling, needlework, dancing, music, drama);

Published her works anonymously, represented by her brother Henry, as women did not have the legal power to sign contracts;

Her work was pirated in French translations, but afterward, a new translation credited her as the author.

Major novels:

  • “Sense and Sensibility” (1811)
  • “Pride and Prejudice” (1813)
  • “Mansfield Park” (1814)
  • “Emma” (1816)
  • “Persuasion” (1818)
  • “Northanger Abbey” (1819)