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Jane Addiction

Melissa Sue Kart’s article “Jane Addiction” explores the sudden growth in interest in the novels of Jane Austen during the 1990s. She explores the interest from several different points of view; that Austen’s novels are inherently feminist, critiquing the patriarchy and acting as social satire, that they are more focused on the men of the stories than the women, and that the most common reason the novels are popular again is because of the romance aspect.

In a way all of these reasons are right. With all of the adaptations that started in the 90s focusing mainly on the romance aspect of the novels it makes sense that most people would see this as the main point of them, especially if they haven’t read the books before. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since romance is something that many people have either experienced or want to experience. However at the same time since these are novels and movies marketed specifically to women it makes it seem like finding a husband is the most important part of these works.

Also from a literary point, the satire is easily the most important part of the novels, since the female characters act as examples of independent, strong minded women as well as showing proper social behavior from the time. However I don’t think that the novels are inherently feminist, since the point of the novels showing proper social behavior is also a way of showing how a young women can marry well. While the main characters are all strong minded and intelligent women who need more than just the promise of wealth and land to fall in love, there is still the underlying knowledge that each of the women needs to marry well or risk not being able to afford a family.

I disagree with the argument that the novels focus more on the men than the women, because while the the women in the story do talk about the men quite a bit, that’s not what the most common conversation is about, since overall the most important theme in every one of Austen’s novels is family and how important it is, and it just happens that the novels distinguish between family that you are born into and the family you choose.


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