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Film and the Novels of Jane Austen

Nearly anyone who has been to the movies in the past few years has probably seen a film adapted from one of the novels of Jane Austen, who is having one of those revivals of interest that is sometimes inflicted upon artists from pre-mass media eras. And the most enduring scene from each of these movies is the last one, in which everyone of any importance is happily married off.

And yet despite the nearly deafening clangor of marriage bells in Austen's works, and despite the amount of mental anguish that her characters devote to matchmaking and being matched, the theme of friendship is just as important as that of romantic love, although rarely acknowledged to be so. If Austen's pages are full of endless dialogue about the importance of love and marriage, it is important to note that all of this dialogue is going on between friends. This paper applies a model of cultural criticism to Austen's 1818 novel Northanger Abbey as a way of elucidating the importance of female friendship as opposed to marriage for the characters in this book. This paper also examines how the theme of friendship relates both to the importance of marriage and to the characters relationship to the larger society (Ash and Higton, 1995, p. 12).

Austen's works, including Northanger Abbey, reflect the the comfortable and genteel (if never quite wealthy) world in which she was raised. Born near Basingstoke, in the parish of Steventon, where her father served as a rector, she spent her entire life living with her family and began as a child to write novels for her family. Each of these novels centers around a country family for whom there is never quite enough money. This lack of substantial riches is an explicit element of Austen's novels, for a family's wealth had a direct impact on a young woman's ability to marry well (or even marry at all). Austen satirizes the morals of her time, both suggesting that marriage is a commercial proposition that may well not be w...

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Film and the Novels of Jane Austen. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 22:56, June 24, 2019, from