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What does Jane Austen’s ‘The Three Sisters’ show us about the lives of women in the 19th Century?

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Jane Austen Coursework Winter 2001 What does Jane Austen's 'The Three Sisters' show us about the lives of women in the 19th Century? Jane Austen's 'The Three Sisters' was written in the nineteenth century. At this time life was dominated by society and a women's desire for the company of a man in marriage. This was seen as a competition between a family and others in society. A woman's life revolved around reading and socialising, and with no education, life was very quiet. This meant that a man was a way of conceit to others in the social order, and would create a whole new context to her life. Love was very rare because of this. If a man were to marry a woman it would be as if she were a trophy and a symbol of his manlihood. From a woman's perspective, she would have no choice who she was to marry for it would be up to her parent's to decide. This decision would be based on the man's wealth and status in society. Jane Austen uses the three sisters in the story as a way of reflecting life at the time and uses it to rebel against the way of life. Jane Austen was very much against women's stereotypical lifestyle. Austen's views are portrayed mainly through the character of Georgiana. Georgiana stood for a change in the way society worked, so that men were the not totally domineering over the women, and so women had some freedom in expression and choice. ...read more.


This could be an excuse to hide her desperateness to getting married. The only things that are important to her are the physical objects that she will be given by Mr Watts after marriage, and how her status will be affected. This is finalised in the last line of the letter: 'if he will promise to have the carriage ordered as I like, I will have him, if not he may ride in it himself for me' (Mary, page 2, letter 1) This attitude causes the reader to think of Mary negatively, as she is only thinking recklessly about her future. Mary, being the link to how women's society worked, shows that the way of life was careless and self possessed, with no respect for love and the future. In Mary's second letter, we can learn a lot more about her relationship with her mother. The letter focuses on the situation of Mary's sisters marrying before her, and how her mother contributes to her decisions. Mary's character develops subtly on her uncertainty on the matter. Her competitive side shows more throughout this letter as she becomes more frustrated and confused. We can see this from Mary's short sentences of speech when speaking to her mother, whose speech is much lengthier and in greater detail. The inclusion of dialogue allows us greater insight into each character, and how they act around others. Throughout the letter Mary's mother shows desperateness and egotism towards the outcome of the marriage: "I am not going to force you child, but you only want to know ...read more.


Her defiance of society is why the story was written, so she could express her feelings to others. Also Austen writes of The Dutton's in the story, not to represent her defiance, but to represent the main cause of the way society acts. They are in the story as a way of Austen showing why people like Mary and her mother are so interested in marriage. The reason is to compete with other families in society such as the Duttons, to get married first and be noticed and respected in society. Mr Brudenell is much like Mr Darcy in pride and Prejudice. He is included in the story as Austen's representation of her ideal man, with Georgiana being Austen herself. This is shown especially when the sisters meet him for the first time. Mr Brudenell is opposed to Mary's attitude and merely ignores her. This can also be seen as Mary being society in general, with Mr Brudenell also opposing it. Through 'The Three Sisters' we can learn a lot about women and their roles in the nineteenth century. The focus on how women are lead to marriage by material possession and not through emotion is effectively shown throughout the story and how status in society is the cause. Austen is able to achieve her aim of showing that society revolves around status and that her ideals should be part of society. Although the story did not greatly affect people thoughts in the nineteenth century, it did mean that others like Austen could demonstrate their feelings on society. ?? ?? ?? ?? Ed Francis 28/04/2007 JA Essay ...read more.

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