Female Rivalry, Psychoanalysis and the Marriage Market economy in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Northanger Abbey and Lady Susan.
MetadataShow full item record
This thesis explores female rivalry within an eternal triangle (two women compete for one man), and its effect on female relationships in four novels by Jane Austen: Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Northanger Abbey (1818), and Lady Susan (1871). Female rivalry is explored in these novels by means of psychoanalysis and the concept of the marriage market. Though the concepts of psychoanalysis and the marriage market seem to have nothing in common, both concepts objectify and value women. Analysis of the four novels shows how the objectification and valuation of women creates an environment in which women feel the need to compete with one another. The first part of the analysis focuses on Lady Susan and Sense and Sensibility, in which psychoanalytic ideas are most present. This in combination with important themes such as communication and rivalry within the family makes that this chapter shows various forms of female rivalry and its effect on the relationships between the female characters. The same happens in the second analysis chapter. This chapter, however, looks at Northanger Abbey and Pride and Prejudice, and has a heavier focus on the concept of the marriage market. In this chapter, even more forms of female rivalry arise, and various female characters can be seen actively trying to change their status through marriage by means of rivalry with other women. The conclusion shows how Austen uses female rivalry within her novels to reflect on the marriage market. The ways in which the characters compete against one another, and the fact that the women who are regarded as ‘bad’ through their valuation end up losing the rivalry within the eternal triangle, shows that Austen’s works are negative towards the marriage market system.