SOCIO-ECONOMIC SCENARIO IN JANE AUSTEN’S NOVELS
Assistant Professor, MIER College of Education, Jammu, Jammu & Kashmir, India.
No study of Jane Austen can be complete without dwelling on the way the novelist focusses attention on the social life of the times, particularly the social relationships and changing patterns in the lives of the middle class families, largely based in rural countryside. Living as she was in a crucial period of European and British history, Jane Austen could not help but notice the changes that were taking place in the lives of the families around her. This small area was for her a microcosm of the state of society of the times. Changes in the domestic life of the people also find a place in her novels, but the change was primarily in the middle class families. The most potent agent of this change was marriage. Women being dependent on their father before marriage and on their husbands after it, marriage was the most important event in the life of women to make or mar their future. The choice of a wealthy life-partner was therefore necessary for their social security. In her novels, Jane Austen reveals that she had a high esteem for marriage, which she regarded as a vehicle for the overall wellbeing of society and mankind. Marriage was one way in which middle class people could aspire to improve their conditions and achieve genteelism or respectability, as the term came to be known during Victorian times. The paper takes up the socio-economic scenario in Jane Austen’s novels. Interestingly, the industrial revolution and the nineteenth century capitalism had not impinged on it. With menfolk hardly any professions available to the menfolk, most of them opted for either the navy or the army being regarded as unobjectionable.
revolution, countryside, microcosm, socio-economic scenario, unobjectionable.