Education by Embarrassment and Mortification: Character Development in Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Persuasion
Calkin, Catherine Ann
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The undertaking of this thesis is to demonstrate that in Jane Austen's novels mortification and embarrassment are central to the thematic and structural organization, and its purpose is to analyze these as the method by which her characters are educated. The Introduction establishes the critical and literary contexts by considering embarrassment and mortification in works by Burney, Goldsmith, and Richardson. What Austen's characters are educated in is also the focus of this discussion, and the purpose of the three chapters, centred on Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Persuasion, is to explore the topic along these lines and through a selection of both major and minor characters. The thesis examines the patterns of similarity and difference in the processes of mortification and embarrassment, and the function of the Conclusion is to highlight such patterns and to clarify the type of knowledge and maturity which Austen's characters attain. Finally, the thesis endeavours to convey the depth and complexity of Austen's understanding of embarrassment and mortification both in her work as a whole and within specific novels.