The Romantic novel 20/03/2017

The state of the novel

  • Full analysis of a situation (social relations between different people or classes).
  • Incorporation of the spoken language (improvement and extension of dialogues).

The novel of manners

  • Main author: Jane Austen.
  • Main works: Sense and Sensibility (1811); Pride and Prejudice (1813).
  • Plot: love stories between you woman and men.
  • Setting: provincial middle-class England.

The novel of purpose

  • Aim: propagating the social and political ideas of the French Revolution.
  • Main author: Mary Shelley.
  • Main work: Frankestein (1818).
  • Plot: the creation of artificial life.
  • Influences: Gothic tradition and 18th-century philosophy.

The historical novel

  • Aim: linking the present to the past.
  • Main author: Walter Scott.
  • Main works: Waverly (1814); Ivanhoe (1820).
  • Plot: actions and lives of colorful characters.
  • Setting: great historical events.

The American short story

  • Aim: providing brief and agile narrative prose.
  • Main author: Edgar Allan Poe.
  • Main work: The Black Cat (1843).
  • Plot: detective and horror tales.
  • Other features: exploration of the abysses of the human mind; triumph of instinct and the irrational.
Jane Austen (1775-1816)


  • She was born at Steventon, Hampshire.
  • Her father was the rector of the village.
  • She was educated at home.
  • She began writing prose at an early age.
  • Her novels were published anonymously.

The novels' setting and characters

  • She chose limited settings and characters.
  • All novels are set in the provincial world.
  • Her characters belong to the rural middle class, the landed gentry and country clergy.
  • They are very precisely described.
  • They are round characters, thanks to the author's fine psychological insight.

The novels' plots

  • Love is always subordinated to moral and social conventions.
  • A marriage proposal must follow.
  • The experience of middle-class women is the main focus: through a series of errors they finally reach a happy ending.

Dialogue and irony

  • The dialogue is clear, witty and precise. It shapes the story and makes it interesting.
  • Irony is always gentle, expressed in balanced and acute observations.
  • The use of the omniscient third-person narrator is never too noticeable.

Unromantic quality of her work

  • She admires the Augustan classics.
  • Her insistence on morality, her interest in society, the didactic aim of her novels are all very different from the qualities of most Romantic art.
Pride and Prejudice (1813)

The theme of marriage

  • Setting: countryside of southern England.
  • Plot: based on love and marriage.
  • Main character: Elisabeth and the other Bennet sisters.
  • Other features: satirization of the desperate search for a husband.

The story

  • Elisabeth is the second of five sisters and she lives in Longbourn, a village in Hertfordhire.
  • Two rich men, Bingley and Darcy, visit Longbourn.
  • Bingley courts Jane, Elisabeth's sister.
  • Darcy thinks he is superior because of his social status and advices Bingley against Jane.
  • Darcy, despite is initial pride, falls for Elisabeth.
  • Elisabeth has a strong prejudice against him.
  • In the end all the misunderstandings are resolved and the two couples are happily united.

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