Jane Austen: Class and marriage
Professor Kathryn Sutherland discusses the importance of marriage and its relationship to financial security and social status for women in Jane Austen’s novels. Filmed at Jane Austen’s House Museum, Chawton.
In the society in which Jane Austen lives – and remember, of course, we're dealing essentially with the middle and upper classes – she's never looking at the kind of society that Dickens looks at, she's not looking at the kind of poverty that Dickens describes, say, in Bleak House or Oliver Twist. She's looking at society for middle class women and in her society, at this particular time, inherited property runs through the male line. So a woman might be borne into affluent circumstances, but you will find that that affluence does not follow her through life. The only way to ensure it, is marriage and that's why, of course, marriage is so important in Jane Austen's novels. It's why too, that even though we enjoy the romantic fulfilment, which is such an important part of those novels and of the course of the plot that runs through them, we're never allowed to forget that material circumstances matter.
Professor Kathryn Sutherland considers Jane Austen’s portrayal of female characters and her harshly moralistic outlook. Filmed at Jane Austen’s House Museum, Chawton. - video
Professor Kathryn Sutherland considers the depiction of public and private spaces in Jane Austen’s novels. Filmed at Jane Austen’s House Museum, Chawton. - video
Professor Kathryn Sutherland discusses Jane Austen’s ground-breaking use of social realism and her focus on the mundanity of everyday life. Filmed at Jane Austen’s House Museum, Chawton. - video
Professor Kathryn Sutherland explores Jane Austen manuscripts, discussing the significance of her dense handwriting and lack of punctuation. Filmed at the British Library. - video
Professor John Mullan explores the romantic, social and economic considerations that precede marriage in the novels of Jane Austen.
Professor John Mullan explores the protocol and the passion of balls in Jane Austen’s novels.
Questions of status and class are a major preoccupation of Jane Austen’s characters, and of the novels themselves. Professor John Mullan considers both the importance of social status and its satirical potential.
Jane Austen’s characters are continually watching, judging and gossiping about others and, in turn, are watched, judged and gossiped about. Professor Kathryn Sutherland explores the ways in which behaviour and etiquette are closely monitored in the novels, and how characters must learn to be skilful readers of those around them.