Family Matters: Kinship in Jane Austen [book chapter]
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Families shape the individuals born into them in large and small ways, consciously and unconsciously; but the kinship dynamics that structure power in families are perhaps the most invisible of these forces. I doubt that Jane Austen consciously mapped out the maternal and paternal lineage of her characters or calculated their social power within their families in these terms. But she was a creature of her society and well-attuned to gradations of material advantage and social power; and so the nuances of the families she imagined fully reflected the weighting of power that came from the kinship structures and inheritance practices of the day. In analyzing the kin arrangements she ascribes to her good characters and her thoughtless ones, their alliances and competitions, and the relative power of her heroines, one is struck again by how thorough and consistent her social arrangements were.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Humanities. Literature Section
A Companion to Jane Austen
Perry, Ruth. (2009). Family Matters: Kinship in Jane Austen. In Claudia L. Johnson & Clara Tuite (Eds.), A companion to Jane Austen (pp.323-331). Chichester, UK; Wiley-Blackwell. (Blackwell companions to literature and culture; 57)
Final published version