Influenced by Life and Dreams "In the world elsewhere, the larger world beyond the novel which Jane Austen describes even as she excludes it." Peter Conrad explains that Jane Austen describes a world in her novels, which relates to the world that she lives in even though she tries to exclude it. Jane Austen is an amazing writer. She was born in Steventon, England on December 16th, 1775. She was the seventh of eight children and the second daughter of a rural clergyman, respected for his learning and literary taste. Jane Austen was educated at home, except for a brief time spent schooling at Oxford. In 1811 Sense and Sensibility was published, followed by Austen's more famous novel Pride and Prejudice, formally titled First Impressions, in 1813. In Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen's life is portrayed. Jane Austen's life influenced her work and her novels are a reflection of her life, her wishes, and her dreams.
Jane Austen used many family members' characteristics to influence her own characters in her writing. Austen's closest sister, Cassandra, played many roles throughout Austen's novels. Cassandra was the eldest daughter of the Austen's and was a role model for Jane Austen. In Pride and Prejudice, Cassandra's life and characteristics are portrayed in the character Jane Bennet. Jane Bennet is the eldest daughter of Mr. Bennet. As well Jane Bennet and Elizabeth Bennet, who has the characteristics of Jane Austen, are very close in this novel. Jane Austen wished her sister, Cassandra, the entire world. Cassandra was fond of a man named Thomas Faule. They were engaged; then shortly after their engagement Thomas Faule died of yellow fever in the Caribbean on military training. Cassandra never married after his dead and spent her time devoted to her sister and mother. In Pride and Prejudice, Austen displays Cassandra's character through a difficult time in Cassandra's life as Jane Bennet and Mr. Bingley have become quite acquainted. They admire each other and have a preference for one another. Mr. Bingley leaves on business and does not propose to Jane Bennet. Although this is where Cassandra's story would have had it's drastic ending but Austen made Jane Bennet's story a happily ever after one. Mr. Bingley returns back to England and proposes to Jane Bennet. Jane Austen's other novel, Sense and Sensibility, contains another resemblance to her family life. In the novel, after Henry Dashwood dies, he leaves behind a widow and three daughters. "He survived his uncle no longer; and ten thousand pound including the late legacies, was all that remained for his widow and daughters." (Austen S&S 2) Henry Dashwood leaves ten thousand pounds to his three daughters and wife to live on for the rest of their lives and to find a new home, since they some will be forced out by the inheritor. Similarly, when Jane Austen's father passed away, he left behind a widow and two daughters, Jane and Cassandra, but the third daughter was Martha Lloyd, the sister of Jane Austen's brother's wife. She became a sister to the Austen family after her own mother had passed. Another similarity in this novel is that, as well as Pride and Prejudice, the two sisters are close and one has qualities if Jane Austen and the other of Cassandra. Jane Austen and her father may or may not have had a wonderful relationship. In Pride and Prejudice one is lead to believe that this wonderful father daughter relationship actually happened. Elizabeth Bennet adores her father, Mr. Bennet and he is her favourite of all five daughters. Elizabeth's mother is showed to hate Elizabeth because of the envy of her father. In contrast to hate, Sense and Sensibility show a loving mother daughter relationship. There is no substantial proof that Jane was close to either of them or maybe this is her way of trying to changed the relationship of her and her father and tell him how much she really cared after his death. It is said that Jane Austen had her privacy invaded by other people and, her heroines must love and be loyal to vexing parents and ill-behaved siblings, so she must write about characters she despises but cannot dispose of. But writers write about their time and their surroundings and to Jane Austen that was her family.
Although Jane Austen's life influenced her work, so did her imaginary dream world where everything was perfect. Jane Austen never married, never had a real interest in a man, nor a women. In Austen's written world as the character Elizabeth Bennet, she gets to enjoy the perfect man, handsome, rich, intelligent the only problem with Austen's perfect man is that he's a snob, or so the reader assumes. He turns out to be the all around "perfect" man. Mr. Darcy is Elizabeth's perfect man; they get married and Austen's dream world begins. Austen uses this same concept for her sister, Cassandra's, character, Jane Bennet. In both Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, Jane Bennet and Marianne Dashwood endure life-threatening sickness after being in the rain but recover. In this period of time it would be very hard to recover. Sense and Sensibility contains one chapter that truly shows Jane Austen's fantasy world. In this chapter Marianne Dashwood is walking in the woods, she falls and twists her ankle. No one is around; suddenly a handsome figure appears out of the shadowy mist. He has come to help her home. This fairy tale setting of a knight in shinning armour coming to rescue his damsel in distress is a perfect image of Austen's dream. This dream world helps Austen throughout her novels giving them a happy ending because her life was full of tragic ends.
Jane Austen put herself as characters in her own novels. Pride and Prejudice's Elizabeth Bennet is an illustration of Austen herself. This can be justified as she uses her own family as characters, how she incorporated her own life situations and gives her character her own qualities. For example, Jane Austen was schooled at home mainly by reading great works. Her favourite pastime was to read. Austen became an intellect. As Austen puts her self in the place of Elizabeth Bennet, she is said to be "a great reader (, which) has no pleasure in anything else." (Austen P&P 27) Austen said that her family and herself are "great novel readers and not ashamed of being so." (University of Texas) Austen also enjoyed social events such as parties, dances and balls. This was one way to meet single, available men and to show of your social status. Elizabeth, her mother and sisters believed that balls were "most delightful" and "excellent." (Austen P&P 8) Both Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice are set in England around the London area. Jane Austen grew up in London and travelled around England often. Austen knew the scenery well and displayed it in her novels with many accurate details about the landscape and atmosphere. Jane Austin incorporates herself in her novels to get a feeling of the book. She did call Pride and Prejudice her little baby.
Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice focuses on a main issue in Austen's time, which was known as entails or inheritance. An entail was a legal method used to prevent a property from being broken up, and from descending in a female possession. This was to leave all one's wealth and estate to one's eldest son or "heir" For Example, if Elizabeth Bennet's father was to die in the novel then the estate was to be left to Me. Collins a nephew of Mr. Bennet. Mr. Collins, the entail on the Longbourn estate, is treated somewhat lightly in the novel. Jane Austen expected her readers to understand that it is no joke; if Mr. Bennet died, his wife and five daughters would have to leave Longbourn and live on the interest of ÃÂ£5,000, or a little more than ÃÂ£200 a year. It is obvious that their standard of living would drop considerably and they would be dependent on the charity of others. "I never can be thankful, Mr. Bennet, for any thing about the entail. How any one could have the conscience to entail away an estate from one's own daughters I cannot understand; and all for the sake of Mr. Collins too! -- Why should he have it more than anybody else?" (Austen P&P 57) Mrs. Bennet informs her husband of the disgust she is feeling about the entail. Although Mr. Bennet does not die in the novel, when he did is what Austen tries to portray in her novel. Similarly, Sense and Sensibility deals with this issue as well. Mrs. Dashwood's husband, Henry Dashwood, dies in the beginning of the novel. Mrs. Dashwood and her three daughters are forced out of their home by John Dashwood, Henry Dashwood's son from a previous marriage, and left with very little money to fend for themselves. They receive very little financial assistance from their brother/son-in-law because of his wife, Fanny. Mrs. Dashwood is then forced to find assistance from one of her relatives. "No sooner was her answer dispatched, than Mrs. Dashwood indulged herself in the pleasure of announcing to her son-in-law and his wife that she was provided with a house." (Austen S&S 15) Mrs Dashwood is pleased to have a home of her own again though it is only a little cottage; she must take the offer to survive. Jane Austen used this information in the novel because that was the situation in that time period of her life. After Jane Austen's father died in 1805, Jane Austen and her mother and sister Cassandra needed an income of about ÃÂ£450, which had to be partly supplied by Jane Austen's brothers. Women at this point in history did not have money, could not work to earn a living, and did not legally have the rights to inherit.
In conclusion, her life, her dreams, and her hopes influence Jane Austen's novels and works. In 1816, Jane Austen's health began to fail. In May of 1817 Austen and Cassandra moved to Winchester for medical attention. Jane died on July 18th 1817 at the age of forty-one. She was buried in the Winchester Cathedral. Austen's life wrote those novels and maybe one could say that they are her own personal diaries where the reader interprets what it means.
Works Cited Primary Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. New York: Bantom Books, 1981.
Austen, Jane. Sense and Sensibility. Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Editions Limited, 1992.
Secondary Drabble. Margaret. "Jane Austen." The Oxford Companion to English Literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985.
Hanely, Katherine. "Jane Austen." Cyclopedia of World Authors. California: Salem Press Inc., 1997.
University of Texas. "Jane Austin's Life." [Online] Available http://www.pemberly.com/janeinfo/janeinfo.htm.
Unknown. "Jane Austen." Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia. CD-ROM, 2000 edition.