Student Research Projects

"To the Advantage of Both": Suitable Matches as the Reward for Austen's "Good" Charcters

Student Kim Fahle
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department English


Jane Austen’s novels give a window into the domestic life of genteel society in late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. These novels have become some of the most beloved classics in English literature. Yet, they have found themselves at the center of a critical debate. Some critics see Austen as a conservative writer who, through her novels, attempts to maintain the current social order and keep women in their place, while others view Austen as a progressive writer. There is a way to reconcile these seemingly contradictory beliefs. While, Austen is concerned with protecting and maintaining social order, she believes that strong individuals, both male and female, are necessary to do this. Yet, all of Austen’s characters, even the best ones, are flawed. Austen shows how suitable matches, however, can counteract these flaws. She presents suitable marriages as a stabilizing unit and as the reward for her heroes and heroines.