Austen’s characters, in true female fashion, sought nothing more than an advantageous marriage that would bring honor and dignity to the family as well as comfort and prosperity to her home, depicting the social ideal that the woman’s place was in the home and her career, regardless of her personal tastes, opinions or desires, was to be marriage. “In addition to being able to sing, play an instrument and speak a little French or Italian, the qualities a young … gentlewoman needed, was to be innocent, virtuous, biddable, dutiful and be ignorant of intellectual opinion” (Thomas, 2007). While each of her heroines are shown to possess these qualities in some form or another – Catherine of Northanger Abbey is innocently drawn into the world of ‘horrors’ represented by the Gothic novel, Marianne Dashwood is illustrated as being an accomplished musician in Sense and Sensibility and Anne is greatly admired by Mr Elliot for her proficiency in translating Italian in Persuasion – most are also shown to have an independent streak that insists upon happiness as well, pushing their restrictions to find a semblance of freedom and independence even within the institution of marriage. . Austens Women in a Conservative Society.
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