What the Heart Wants

AC | ET Student

Jane Austen grew up in the regency era, which was between the dates of 1811 and 1820. This era maintained an ideology that restricted women from living their lives the way they wanted to. Jane Austen used this society to write six novels that defy the social norms that society places on people.

In all of her six novels, Austen is commenting on the British people that lived during the 18th century. She is trying to prove that certain social norms should not exist or at least should be changed to allow for more freedom. In her books, Jane Austen created characters that show how women were affected by these restrictive social norms.

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Park in Bath, England. | Photo by AC

In Pride and Prejudice, the main character, Elizabeth Bennett is told by society that she must marry if she wants to keep her family’s estate, when all she wants to do is find someone she loves and marry him. This goes against everything society has told her, but she stills defies society and goes with what her heart wants.

“There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more I am dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of merit or sense” (Pride and Prejudice).

This quote from Pride and Prejudice shows the reader not only what Elizabeth thinks of the society that she inhabits, but what Jane Austen thinks of the society as well. Austen gives voice to her thoughts on society through her characters; she uses them to be able to say what should be changed within her society.

Austen lived in Bath, England for part of her life. It was in this town that she wrote some of her books that have changed the lives of readers ever since. When I went to Bath, I was excited for this very reason. I was excited to see the town that inspired amazing works that have many things to say about the time in which Austen lived. Staying a few days in Bath and visiting the Jane Austen Centre helped put her life in perspective. It helped me understand her better as a writer and as a person living during that time. She attempts to show the reader exactly what it was like living in Bath during the regency era.



Categories: Literature

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