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Moral Philosophy, Ethics, and Jane Austin

Jane Austen the English writer (1775-1817) was one of the most significant novelists of the Nineteenth century. In her extreme concentration on the thoughts and feelings of a limited amount of characters, Jane Austen creates as profound an understanding and as precise a vision of the potentialities of the human spirit as the art of fiction has ever achieved. While her novels received positive reviews, she was not celebrated as an author throughout her lifetime. Northanger Abbey, a send-up on the Gothic romance, was sold to a publisher for ?

10 in 1803, however as it was not published, was bought back by members of the family as well as was lastly issued posthumously. Her writing published in Austen’s lifetime was Sense and Sensibility written in 1811, Pride and Prejudice written in 1813, Mansfield Park written in 1814, as well as Emma (1816). Persuasion was issued during 1818 with Northanger Abbey. The author’s name did not become visible on any of her title pages, as well as although her own friends knew of her authorship, she received modest public recognition in her life. (Wiltshire 1992)

Brief Analysis Jane Austen’s books are comedies of manners that portray the self-contained world of provincial ladies and gentlemen. The best part of her works circle around the subtle business of providing husbands for marriageable daughters. She is mainly noted for her bright delineations and energetic interaction of character, her superb sense of comic irony, as well as her moral firmness. She ridicules the stupid, the affected, as well as the stupid, ranging in her satire from light portraiture in her premature works to more mocking exposures in her later novels.

Her novels were subjected to the major careful polishing. She was quite conscious of her special excellences as well as limitations, comparing herself to a miniaturist. In our day she is regarded as one of the great pioneers of the English novel. Her minor works comprise her Juvenilia, the novel Lady Susan, as well as the fragments The Watsons and Sanditon. Jane Austen did not inscribe anything openly about philosophy. Yet her novels are scented with philosophical insights furthermore we can read between the lines of her books an inherent attitude to life, within which a sure ‘philosophy’ becomes evident.

The Love of a Creator Jane Austen is destined to have loved her characters so much that she had constructed ‘after lives’ for them, details regarding what really happened to them even long after the end of her actual stories, not included in any book. This seems extreme and yet it is perhaps the kind of dedication that gives her characters the authenticity that they have. It seems incorrect to love literary creations for instance characters, and yet perhaps this is what is required to flesh them out in their complete humanity as she does. (Todd 2005) Philosophy as Wisdom of Life

She is as shrewd a psychologist as she is a loving friend to her characters. Furthermore the philosophy that may be read in her books is all the more stunning as well as penetrative for being implied, relatively than explicit or rigid, and it is read through the different responses of her characters to events. What is most typical about the expression of her thoughts, even the most noble and theoretical, is that they are all shown through the picky goings on of individual lives, apparently imbuing the details of these lives with significance through her own delicate care as well as attention.

Conceivably only Chekhov has come close to expressing such completely applied wisdom since Austen, relatively than philosophizing more self-consciously, such as, in the type of the soliloquy. The Appearance Fits the Experience The greater part, if not all, of Austen’s writing happened in snatched moments of solitude in such a way as didn’t obstruct with the rest of her family duties. If a member of her family was to enter into the same room, she would just put her writing away as well as get on with her needlepoint.

To a family member who wrote great epic stories, she reacted like she could not compete with this magnificence, for she was describing what she knew, a sight of domesticity so small that, rather than an open picture, it was more like painting a complex design on the enamel of a broach. Her books are on the other hand about what in fact is a universal experience – that life is eventually small, since it is particular, furthermore within a very precise context. (Ferguson 1991) The Particular is the road to the Universal

Life is forever individual and here and now. There is the trimness of the particular that must come with that, however rather than laughing this off as well as pretending to some experienced greatness, Jane Austen was happy to dwell where she was with the people she had furthermore loved them in the littleness of the moment. She shows this through taking them commonly as the models for her study, still often employing, for character names, the names of loved ones or associates.

What someone trying to draw the great political as well as sociological movements of an age would have missed, Austen saw, for example the way one peace symbolized unconcern, whereas another symbolized love. (Southam 1987) The significance of This, Here, Now Without the admiration of the particular consequences of the sciences, it would be not possible to build up consistent as well as empirical universal laws of nature; furthermore likewise, without the notice to detail and the minutiae of life, it would be impractical to set up any universal moral norms.

It is since Jane Austen was so down to earth, that she is so realistic a guide to the understanding implied in moral philosophy Sense and Sensibility Jane Austen’s primary main novel was Sense and Sensibility, whose main characters are Elinor Dashwood and her sister Marianne. The initial draft was written in 1795 furthermore titled Elinor and Marianne. During 1797 Austen rewrote the novel and titled it Sense and Sensibility. After years of polishing, it was lastly published in 1811. As the original and final titles point to, the novel contrasts the natures of the two sisters.

Elinor rules her life by sense or equanimity, whereas Marianne is ruled by openness or feeling. Elinor keeps her wits about her under the strain of an issue during which her beloved becomes disheveled with another girl. Later than his mother disinherits him, his beloved, an avaricious schemer, jilts him as well as he returns to Elinor – who has the sense to take him back. Further unpleasant moral revelation is obvious in Marianne Dashwood’s actions. She is infatuated with a rogue, who tires of her as well as goes off to London. She follows him there and is indignantly disenchanted by his uncaring treatment.

She then gives up her romantic dreams of keen completion furthermore marries a heavy, middle-aged suitor. Whereas the plot favors the worth of sense over that of sensibility, the greatest stress is placed on the moral complexity of human affairs and on the need for enlarged and understated thought as well as feeling in reaction to it. Pride and Prejudice During 1796, when Austen was 21 years old, she wrote the novel First Impressions. Her writings was modified and published under the title Pride and Prejudice during 1813. It is her most popular as well as possibly her greatest novel.

It attains this difference by virtue of its flawlessness of form, which precisely balances and expresses its human content. As in Sense and Sensibility, the twin abstractions of the title are familiarly associated with the protagonists, Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. Elizabeth is accountable of prejudice against the aristocratic Darcy, and he manifests excessive pride in his cold and unbending approach toward Elizabeth, her sister Jane, as well as other members of the Bennet family. (Devlin 1975) The type of the novel is dialectical – the opposition of ethical principles is expressed in the relations of realistic characters.

The resolution of the main plot with the marriage of Elizabeth and Darcy symbolizes a reconciliation of conflicting moral extremes. The value of pride is affirmed when humanized by Elizabeth’s warm personality, as well as the value of injustice is affirmed when associated with Darcy’s standards of conventional honor. Throughout 1797-1798 Austen wrote Northanger Abbey, which was published posthumously. It is an excellent satirical novel, making sport of the popular Gothic novel of terror; however it does not rank among her major works.

In the subsequent years she wrote The Watsons (1803 or later), which is a piece of a novel similar in mood to her later Mansfield Park, as well as Lady Susan (1804 or later), a novelette in letters. Mansfield Park During 1811 Jane Austen began Mansfield Park, which was published in 1814. It is her most severe exercise in ethical analysis and presents a traditional view of ethics, politics, as well as religion. The novel traces the vocation of Fanny Price, a Cinderella-like heroine, who is brought from a poor home to Mansfield Park, the country estate of her relative, Sir Thomas Bertram.

She is elevating with some of the comforts of her cousins, the children of Sir Thomas, but her social rank is maintained at a lower level. In spite of their strict upbringing, the Bertram children become involved in marital and extramarital tangles, which bring disasters and near-disasters on the family. However Fanny’s upright character guides her through her own relationships with dignity – although sometimes with a chilling disdainfulness – furthermore leads to her triumph at the close of the novel.

(Galperin 2003) While one may not like the rather priggish heroine, one does expand a sympathetic understanding of Fanny’s thoughts as well as emotions and learn to value her as a minimum as highly as the more attractive however less honest members of the Bertram family and its circle. Emma Soon before Mansfield Park was published, Jane Austen started a new novel, Emma, as well as published it in 1816. Once more the heroine, Emma Woodhouse, is hard to love but, like Fanny Price, does keep the reader’s sympathy and understanding.

Emma is a girl of high intelligence as well as bright imagination who is also marked by egotism and a desire to dominate the lives of others. She exercises her powers of treatment on a number of neighbors who are not able to resist her prying into their lives. The best part of Emma’s attempts to control her friends, however, does not have happy effects for her or for them. However influenced by John Knightley, an old friend who is her superior in intelligence and maturity, she realizes how misguided a lot of of her actions are.

The book ends with the conclusion of a warmer as well as less headstrong Emma to marry Mr. Knightley. The unimportance of some of the characters – mainly Emma’s hypochondriac father – distresses many readers, however there is much evidence to support the contention of some critics that Emma is Austen’s most brilliant novel. The saturation of a thin human situation with the author’s satirical wit and psychological penetration is here carried to its uppermost point. (Honan 1987) Comparing moral philosophers their views on ethics

At this time when Jane Austen’s stock is up, gradient, Anne Crippen Ruderman’s The Pleasures of Virtue reminds us why Austen’s novels carry on to please both close readers and viewing audiences of film adaptations. Austen continually identifies, explains, and furthermore illustrates the pleasures of virtue through consideration of heroes and heroines who find noble thoughts and activities pleasant. Foremost with these noble things is connection to others, love, the superlative of Keats’s delight thermometer in Endymion, culminating in marriage in Austen’s novels.

However love is not all that constitutes happiness, for happiness unsurprisingly ensues for the morally virtuous, not as a predictable reward but as an accident of the way Jane Austen’s world works. (Grey 1986) The old arguments of self versus civilization or self-interest versus community building that have encouraged recent critics to factor Kant into Austen’s framework are put to rest while Aristotle’s classical restraint becomes the ideal: Austen, like Aristotle, implies that the pleasures of self-control are the truest pleasures.

Ruderman constantly distinguishes that we have no facts that Austen read Aristotle or his commentators, while, deep in the heart of her argument, she admits by the way that it is appealing to say that Austen looks at the world in the manner Aristotle does but from the perspective of a woman. The detailed virtues, suggested by Aristotle and fictionally illuminated by Austen, are caution, sensibility, justice, proper pride, diffidence, and moderation, the last being the key to Aristotle’s definition of moral virtue: A mean that lies between two vices, one of excess and the other of deficiency the mean is the most praiseworthy state.

During control of deep feeling by self-command, Jane Austen preserves the enduring option of a human life that both benefits others as well as perfects oneself. Rather surprisingly, Ruderman remarks that happiness is not dependent on marriage although on living a measured life of asset acquired by habit; marriage follows in nature from a love that is helpful for society other than for individuals since it is grounded, on the virtue meant at by both. She proceeds thoroughly through education in virtue, where the focus is mainly on Emma as well as Northanger Abbey to deliberation of particular virtues.

As she proceed further, she reviews that why Mr. Knightley as well as Emma Woodhouse is a more proper match than are Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax, furthermore why Emma does not choose Jane as her particular friend. The gallant Frank and elegant Jane have a kind of egotism that keeps them from being the true hero as well as heroine of the novel. Emma’s honesty is chosen to Jane’s reserve, Mr. Knightley’s honesty and kindliness to Frank’s strange secretiveness. To be hero or heroine each must have experience, as well as taste is, in Austen’s reckoning, what Austen regularly calls agility, an aptitude to take pleasure in honorable behavior.

The best characters take pleasure in the very act of resisting or defeating their feelings, as well as the best characters always increase to be heroes and heroines. (Fergus 1991) Love is based on friendship and friendship is, in accordance with Aristotle and Austen alike, based on virtue relatively than on pleasure or utility. Emma as well as Mr. Knightley, like Catherine and Henry Tilney, will continue together since they see virtues in each other. Marriage follows naturally when choosing a helpful friend for a life of continued perfection of virtues. Marriage brings less duty than joint growth.

Self-sufficiency gives way to love, in addition to love results in happiness. Emma as well as Mr. Knightley experience something so like ideal happiness, that it could bear no other name. The Pleasures of Virtue elucidates Jane Austen’s characters against the existing political thought of Austen’s fume. However the result is a timeless exposition of the human capacity for reason as well as virtue that leads to happiness, to the main pleasures of life. Being constant to principles may require self-sacrifice, but none of Austen’s heroes or heroines am saints.

As an alternative they are decidedly human, gutsy in speech, generous in action, as well as rewarded by happiness for having virtue. (Le Faye 2003) References Austen, Henry Thomas. “Biographical Notice of the Author”. Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. London: John Murray, 1817. Austen-Leigh, James Edward. A Memoir of Jane Austen. 1926. Ed. R. W. Chapman. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1967. Austen-Leigh, William and Richard Arthur Austen-Leigh. Jane Austen: Her Life and Letters, A Family Record. London: Smith, Elder & Co. , 1913.

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