Personal Statement Homework

Question

Meeting of the Minds Essay

research this person’s life (Jane Austen) The purpose of this research will not necessarily be to find out how the writer lived but to gain an understanding of the writer’s perspective on the world.

Your essay will need to include:
o A brief introduction to the writer (Jane Austen) (no more than a paragraph or two),
o An explanation of the individual’s basic understanding of the human condition in the world,
o Three questions you would ask this person if you were given the chance,
o His or her answer to those three questions, from what you have learned. Do not put these answers in quotes. Give a summation of what you think the author’s answer will be.

The following are some questions you might want to ask when doing your research.
1. Why did you choose this person?
a. What time period and culture is the writer from?
b. What events occurred during this person’s lifetime that may have influenced him or her?
c. What is the most intriguing thing about this person you know so far?
2. From what perspective does your personal look at the world: religiously, politically, psychologically, socially. . .
3. What is the artist’s perception of the human condition in the world?
4. What conditions and problems does your artist enlighten others?

This essay is to be seven to ten pages long (not including the works cited page).

Remember to keep track of your sources for your Works Cited page. No internet sources allowed. You will want to look at several different sources and make sure to read several pieces written by the writer.


The purpose of this paper is for the student to make a connection between the human condition and different modes of understanding the world. Remember, literature is about gaining an understanding of the human condition.

Answer

Title: Jane Austen

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Jane Austen is acknowledged as a great English novelist. She was brilliantly witty and always knew how to weave satire into all her works of fiction. Jane Austen was born in 1775 in Steventon village, Hampshire. She was the seventh born of the eight children of Revered George Austen and Cassandra, his wife.

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Austen received her education mainly at home. She never lived away from her family. She got encouragement to write since she was a little girl since all the children around her tended to write and perform charades and plays in order to amuse themselves. Jane used to read books she found in her father’s extensive library, which provided excellent material for the short satirical sketches of his childhood.

Jane Austen expresses her individual knowledge of the world through her works of fiction. She presents characters with peculiar tact that makes them appear natural. The novelist achieves this goal by using the force of the narrative style in writing her works. The narrative style makes the speakers in the story evolve with a dramatic effect.

Through the characters that Jane uses, it is clear that she has a simplistic, yet highly informed understanding of the world around her. According to Butler, the issues she addresses in fiction are a reflection of the real-life issues that preoccupy her mind most of the time (58). Her thoughtful arguments on the nature of the world have made her work the subject of lengthy discussions more than two centuries since they were composed.

            In all her novels, life for Jane appears to be a vital, perfect orb. She presents an image of life as experienced by an English gentlewoman who is peacefully but actively engaged in a quiet village where she received most of her schooling. This sense of quiet is presented in her various works with a purity that captures the attention of readers from diverse social-cultural backgrounds.

            Kirkham indicates that during Jane’s times, momentous events were taking place in Britain, Europe, and the whole world (128). Indeed, it seems rather peculiar that she does not make reference to the various upheavals that took place during her lifetime both on the national and international political stage. Some of the significant events of her life include the American declaration of independence, the beginning of the French revolution, India’s incorporation into the British Empire, Napoleon’s invasion of Russia, and the proclamation of the first French republic.

            From the analysis of the political events of Jane’s lifetime, it is clear that during her adolescence and adulthood, the history of Great Britain and that of France under Bonaparte were intimately interwoven. Jane must have been aware of the threat that Britain’s neighbor, France, presented, considering that two of Jane’s brothers were serving in the Royal Navy as officers.

The first question that I would ask Jane is on why she did not dwell at all on the issues relating to European politics, such as the constant threat that Bonaparte posed to Britain since 1799 until his capture and eventual exile in 1815. The reason for this decision could have been that Jane did not want events happening in the outside world to become an intrusion into her literary world. This could be the reason why the acuity of her assessment of her social world is heightened instead of suffering from distractions that could have been brought about by such intrusions.

The second question I would like to put to Jane Austen is what inspired him into concentrating only on works of fiction. All her works are riddled with warmth, enthusiasm, and they trigger emotional outbursts from readers regardless of their cultural backgrounds. In this regard, I would extend the question and ask Jane whether she had leaders from other parts of the world in mind when she was writing her novels.

Spencerobserves that it is amazing how Jane ruffles her readers with nothing vehement while disturbing them with flashes of wit that do not seem profound at face value (18). For instance, the narrowness of the subject matter in Jane Austen’s writings has been criticized. The interests of her characters as well as Jane’s interests appear trivial and unimportant when they are viewed in the historical context in which they were expressed. Someone would expect Jane Austen to concentrate on England’s struggle of life and death with Napoleon and the French. Instead, she focuses only on the everyday lives and concerns that ring in the minds of a few families living in a small country circle.

Jane, it appears, was interested in the analysis of the aspects of time that would stand the test of time. She appears to have been motivated by only those views of life that she considered more extensive. Jane appears to be keen on getting to the heart of the matter on issues of personal relations and the way in which they relate to her unpretentious philosophy. Her philosophy seems to be founded on the objective analysis of the moral quality of people in her society.

Jane has also been criticized for accepting complacently the class structure that existed in her society, complete with its mores and values. The answer to this criticism would be that Jane was torn between her corrupt and cruel society on the one hand and her emotional attachments to her friends and family on the other hand. Her solution to this problem was adopting the ‘subconscious’ approach, whereby her criticism was covertly expressed in her works of fiction. Such an approach, Jane appears to have rationalized, would endear her to many readers both locally and internationally, both ‘now’ and in the future.

It is also not clear whether Jane Austen knows how significant her works were both locally and internationally since they marked a transition in literary practice. It is clear that after Jane Austen, all the other great novels that were written in the 19th century are characterized by revolt. The core role of the novel became the attainment of realism, that is, the expression of all forms and structures that were needed in order for the truth about the life that man faced to be discovered.

            However, in order for the novel to be a tool of self-discovery among people in society such as Jane’s, it had to transverse the complex structure of the false feeling and inhumanity that characterized the capitalist world. Jane, it appeared, did not want to expose the extent to which her society’s consciousness had been eroded by capitalism and class differences. She did not want to be a rebel-novelist. She perhaps thought that she could not succeed in achieving great feats in both literary expression and maintenance of rebellious onslaughts on the powers that be. She did not want to venture into sociological analyses of the problems that people in her society continued to face and the way it was affecting their lives.

Copeland points out that the themes in Jane Austen’s novels reveal a lot about the universal nature of the societal issues that she highlighted (201). In the theme of individual and society, for instance, different novels are used to explore similar questions from different perspectives and under different circumstances. The variations in the consequences of these situations are explored, meaning that the endings of these novels always end up being different.

            Jane novels trigger many questions that are anybody would ponder about, including issues of relationships between an individual and the society, conflicts between an individual’s desires and the needs of other people, and the impact of self-sacrifice and self-fulfillment on both the individual and the society at large.

            The society and the values being presented by Jane do not necessarily represent the events of the actual society. This is why they are considered fictional. However, they are critical pointers to the underlying concerns in contemporary British society. They hint at the underlying moral values that everyone should strive for. This is why she endears herself to her audience, both locally and internationally.

            Austen does not accept the attitudes and values of her society with an uncritical mind. Intriguingly, she appears to do so. All she does is use satire in order to ridicule those aspects of her society that she does not feel right about. Surprisingly, she uses the freedom that she derives by coming across as being submissive of her society’s norms to show the deep-rooted limitations and cruelties that are rampant in that society. Other themes that maintain relevance across cultures are freedom and constraint, and fancy versus reason.

            Thirdly, I would like to ask why so many clergymen are found in many of Jane Austen’s novels. As a daughter of clergymen, Jane Austen may have had more than a modest measure of influence from the clergymen who were often close to her during her childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood.

Her pictures of clergymen have historically attracted different views from readers. Some readers tend to be displeased while others are pleased. Those who are not amused tend to insist that her artistic expressions are not ‘reverent’ enough. However, it is not clear what exactly such readers would expect of her pictures and how these expectations differ from what they eventually come across.

In Thompson’s view, Jane Austen appears to create all her clergymen with a strong sense of imagination and realism (192). They are completely realistic since they are recognizable as human beings. They are products of an extremely lively fancy that fits them into the entire scheme of the contemporary imagined world, a world where Jane expresses her creative instincts with sparkling clarity.

Jane Austen, being a daringly creative artist that she is, appears to be imitating God in the novels where her views about spirituality are expressed. The sense of amusement is derived from the fact that she is simply making up a world, creating some men and women, and letting them live in that world.  Her assessment of her creations is that they are essentially good.

On the whole, observesSulloway, the novels with clergymen are amusing, and for this reason, Jane’s novels tend to have a happy ending (105). The general feeling is that Jane does not cause vices and follies in her characters to be over-punished, something that contributes to happiness and a sense of amusement.

Jane’s depiction of clergymen tells readers what the thinks about what her feelings about religion are. In Sense and Sensibility, Edward is created in the shape of ‘a pleasing, gentlemanlike young man’, one who is rather undistinguished. Jane postpones the idea of this man being a clergyman until late in the novel, an indication of her lack of strong religious sentiments.

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In Mansfield Park, Edmund is described as a clergyman. Emphasis on the ‘clergy’ aspect of this man appears to be necessitated by the fact that his profession forms an integral part of the character that Jane wants to portray. The reader is informed about Edmund’s being clergy in the second chapter, and henceforth, his profession is strongly linked to his destiny. He is described as a person of a strong, upright mind, a person of honor, utility and happiness towards himself all his social connections. It is even pointed out that he was surely meant to become a clergyman. This observation by the author is a further pointer to her straightforward interpretation of her society’s social mores.

In summary, Jane Austen was a great English novelist, and the sense of amusement and satire in her novels continues to endear many readers to literary masterpieces. Different literary critics feel that there is a lot to talk about this brilliant 18th-century literary icon. Her laid-back but highly influential approach in addressing the social issues she encountered is amazing. However, many people find her intriguing for various reasons. For instance, it is not clear why she chose to stay away from the significant domestic and international political events that took place during his lifetime. It is clear, though, that these events shaped her perception of the world in which she lived.

Works Cited

Butler, Marilyn. “Jane Austen and the War of Ideas” in Walder, Dennis. The realist novel, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Copeland, Edward. The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen, Cambridge: Press Syndicate of the Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Kirkham, Margaret. Jane Austen, feminism and fiction, London: Routledge, 1997.

Spencer, Jane. Computation into criticism: A study of Jane Austen’s novels and an experiment in method, New York: Blackwell, 1986.

Sulloway, Alison. Jane Austen and the province of womanhood, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1989.

Thompson, James. Between self and world: The novels of Jane Austen, University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1988.

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