Date of Award


Document Type



This thesis explores the feminism of Jane Austen’s six novels: Sense and Sensibility (published in 1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), Emma (1815), Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion, the last two published posthumously in December 1817. Austen’s feminism serves as a bridge between the 18th and 20th centuries: her novels include a critique of the patriarchal system that Mary Wollstonecraft analyzed so judiciously in A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792); they also anticipate ideas in Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own (1929), a six-part essay that originated as lectures that Woolf gave in October 1928 at two women’s colleges, Girton and Newnham, at the University of Cambridge. Although there is no way of knowing whether Austen read Wollstonecraft’s work or alluded purposefully to its ideas, the novels reflect Wollstonecraft’s analysis of the consequences of patriarchy for women, who suffer from a social construct still largely in place an entire century after Austen’s death when Woolf revisits the consequences of a social order in which men have privileges inaccessible to women.