English Language and Literature ETDs

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It is the purpose of this paper to discuss the anti-romantic attitudes of Jane Austen. Her novels are realistic, almost wholly free of the element of Romanticism which claimed so large a part of the literature of the period (late eighteenth and early nineteenth century). It is obvious at the first casual reading of Jane Austen that, although she lived during the period of the great Romantic movement and was writing Northanger Abbey at the same time that Wordsworth was writing "Preface to the Lyrical Ballads," there is no suggestion that she knew or cared to know the impulse that produced such lines as:

"for I have learned to look on nature, not as in the hour of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes the still, sad music of humanity, "

or that, while she lived in the country, she ever asked:

"Will no one tell me what she sings?-- P

Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow f

For old, unhappy, far-off things,

An battles long ago;

Or is it that some more humble lay,

Familiar matter of today?

Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain,

That has been, and maybe again?"

The purpose here, then, is not to prove Austin a realist, but to discuss the anti-romantic elements which essentially make up her work. The discussion will include a statement of the eighteenth century background showing some of the forerunners of the Romantic period, as well as the principle elements of Romanticism itself. There is an attempt to define sentimentalism and the Gothic because it is these phases of Romanticism that are to be used in the making definite comparisons of situations in Miss Austen's work with situations and a typical Gothic romance of Ann Radcliffe.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Dudley Wynn

Second Committee Member

George St. Clair

Third Committee Member

Francis Monroe Kercheville



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