In the English Department’s recent forum on Jane Austen’s perception of young children in her novels, Professor Dan Gunn presented the research he had been compiling about Austen’s attitude throughout her works of literature. Originally presented in Le Mans, France last March, Gunn gave UMF an extraordinary lesson on Austen’s background and an analysis on her minor characters: children.
Where was there room for children in Austen’s time period? Certainly not in literature. According to Gunn’s research, many times the children in Austen’s novels were used for comedy or plot devices. Her depiction of them were generally awful, tiny, selfish human beings. These examples are found throughout Mansfield Park, Emma, Sense and Sensibility, and Pride and Prejudice where children are described as “full of monkey tricks” and “thumping and hallooing” and “pushing the maiden about.” Their constant noise and disorder prevented ordinary social intercourse from happening.
So why did Austen…
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