Jane Austen Questions and Answers

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What is the meaning of this quote: “Jane Austen was certainly a more serious and interesting moralist. Her attitude to morality was not less flexible, but it was less relaxed. The novels concern the difficulties, perils, and indispensability of self-discovery"

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lsumner eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The meaning of this quote can be found in the difference of meaning in "less flexible" versus "less relaxed." To say that Jane Austen's attitude to morality was "not less flexible, but is was less relaxed" is to say that Austen was deliberate in her take on morality. Flexible means to adjust or adapt to conditions. Relaxed means to slacken by effort. Austen made a conscious decision to follow a code of ethics based on being morally correct in terms of doing the "right" thing. She never slackened in her morals and values. Less flexible is to be less adaptable. Austen would never adapt to any conditions which would force her to compromise her righteous beliefs. Therefore she was not less flexible in her attitude to morality. She was less relaxed meaning she never slackened in her attitude on morality.     

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dhpraiser | Student

This is a subjective question. I think the person speaking is saying that she was not rigid or dogmatic in her moralistic beliefs, but was "less relaxed" because she was growing as a person, and as such, over time, she would come into her own morality as opposed to that which she might have been raised with.

All humans are like this pretty much; I don' like that my mom yelled a lot and so am determined that I will not be a yelling person. some might assume mom yelled out of anger or frustration and perhaps I have determined that this is a bad quality and therefore choose not to yell at my children.

My mom however, may have been part of a household that never spoke, and so she decided she would communicate w/ her family however loud that might be.So, to her, the issue would presume that her mom didn't care about her because she didn't talk to her.