What is the main theme in Jane Austen's writings?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

One of the most important themes in Jane Austen's writings is society and a woman's place in it. To deliver this theme she uses satire to get her female readers (and her male ones) to see themselves in the comical and small-minded antics of her characters and to relate to that, and think how they can improve in the elements that apply to them - each reader as an individual. For example, are they like fluffy and empty-headed and short-sighted like Mrs Bennet? Or perhaps they are Lydia (impetuous, naive, impulsive and similarly short-sighted? perhaps they are a tad arrogant and full of themselves to the extent that they are thoughtlessly hurtful to others ('badly done Emma, badly done!) For other readers, perhaps a female reader may recognize Mr Wickham as some irresponsible, self-serving youth as someone they know - a male reader may of course recognize himself! With gentle humor Austen gets us to see society in a new way.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial