Hoydens, Harridans, and Hyenas in Petticoats : Jane Austen's Juvenilia and their contribution to eighteenth-century feminist debate

Authors: Hunt, Sylvia
Advisor: Ready, Kathryn
Abstract: This dissertation is a study of Jane Austen's juvenilia, including "Lady Susan" and "Sir Charles Grandison: or the Happy Man", a collection of work undertaken between the years 1787 and 1794. Although often viewed by modem critics as apprentice pièces for the six novels written in maturity, thèse taies also exhibit deep reflection and involvement in the Enlightenment's feminist movement and feminist opinions on female éducation, and économie and marital dependency, issues the mature novels would explore, but in a less obviously transgressive manner. Although Austen acquiesces to public and political pressure later in life in order to achieve her ambitions of publishing, her early works show a palpable dissatisfaction with the situation of women. Most scholarly criticism of the juvenilia concentrâtes on either the parody of sentimental fictioji or its biographical content. Some attention has been paid to her feminist leanings in this literature, but no thorough survey has yet been done that analyses ail of the juvenilia in this light. This dissertation hopes to rectify that situation and shed light on the early feminist views of Jane Austen in ail of the taies belonging to her juvenilia. When considering an interpretive approach to the juvenilia for this dissertation, Harold Bloom's théories of intertextuality and influence were selected. Admittedly Bloom's theory is decidedly sexually biased in that it deals with the six canonical maie Romantic poets, and uses Freudian vocabulary. However, since création (or procréation) is also a female process, and equality in parent-child relationships is not exclusively maie, Bloom's theory can be modified to include female authors in their struggle to find their own créative voices. Another reason for using the Bloomian theory of influence is that Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar refer to him as their model of female authorial development in Madwoman in the Attic, the research that is used as the basis for this dissertation's feminist argument. Their study lays the groundwork for a re-examination of the historical manifestations of self-imaging in literature and how such self-imaging has been based on gendered socialization. The analysis of the juvenilia clearly demonstrates that Austen's early works are not simply parodies of contemporary literature. Instead, they contribute to the feminist debate of the period, aligning Austen with radical feminists like Mary Wollstonecraft.
Document Type: Thèse de doctorat
Issue Date: 2008
Open Access Date: 13 April 2018
Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11794/19887
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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