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Date of Award

2016

Document Type

Restricted Thesis: Campus only access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Elisabeth Gruner

Second Advisor

Dr. Jessie Fillerup

Abstract

Displays of musicianship in Jane Austen’s novels establish setting and augment the complexity of the world they explore. Music bolsters the novels’ verisimilitude by emphasizing the importance of a social activity, which was woven into the very fabric of middle-class life in Georgian England. But Austen’s depiction of musicians and music-making is also subtly subversive, offering veiled and ironic commentary both on the performing characters and the overarching social underpinnings of the novels themselves. While music-making is certainly far from the focal point of Austen’s fiction, it is nevertheless explored throughout her novelistic output. The majority of Austen’s female characters—especially her heroines—are musical to varying degrees. From the exceptional virtuosity of Marianne Dashwood and Jane Fairfax to the passable accomplishment of Elizabeth Bennet, Austen women hear or perform music on a near-daily basis.

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