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Laughter, War and Feminism

Elements of Carnival in Three of Jane Austen's Novels

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Gabriela Castellanos

In the critical tradition, Jane Austen has long been considered a conservative writer, whose novels emphasize the importance of manners and propriety. This study, however, continues a more recent trend in Austen Scholarship, one that focuses on her feminism. It breaks new ground by identifying, as one ingredient in her fiction, an iconoclastic laughter that is closer to popular gaiety than to the elitist ironic stance of many of her predecessors. Furthermore, it underlines the presence of conflict in her narrative and points to the disruptive speech reported in Austen's elegant, hyper-correct sentences. Working with three of Austen's novels - Northanger Abbey, Pride and Prejudice and Emma - the study analyzes the elements of feminist carnival in her prose.