Tag: Emma Woodhouse

Jane Austen and the Enlightenment

Underlying Enlightenment ideals was Locke’s assertion that the mind is a blank slate receiving and ordering worldly sensations for the benefit of the individual. With this, the focus shifts forward: the individual is valorised and self- interest legitimized- no longer is he encouraged to blindly follow established teachings (i.e. church, government, aristocracy). Instead he’s to be the creator of his own meaning and truth.

Feminism and Jane Austen

However if we look to the basic premise underlying Enlightenment feminism – that women, not having been denied powers of reason, must have the moral status appropriate to ‘rational beings’, formed in the image of a rational God – we must reach a different conclusion. At least two of the three of Austen’s heroines examined were apparently presumed by the men in their lives as capable not of forging their own moral code, but only of regurgitating that of their lovers.

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