Miscommunication Due to Modesty in Jane Austen College

Many times, in Austen novels, the conflict revolves around some sort of miscommunication between characters.Though it makes for an interesting read, it begs the question of how these numerous misunderstandings came to be in the first place. In my essay, I will be arguing that this miscommunication is due to the tendency towards propriety during this time, where everyone feels as though they must be reserved and not too forward. Rather, if the characters were to just say what they mean, then much of the conflict would be resolved. To illustrate this, I will be looking at main points of conflict in both Pride and Prejudice and Emma, paying special attention to how those instances of miscommunication impact relationships.

To begin discussing the limitations of speech and propensity towards propriety in Austen’s novels, it is necessary to first understand the expectations that people were operating under during the 18th century. To do this, I want to focus on Patricia Meyer Spacks contemporary article on ‘Privacy, Dissimulation, and Propriety: Frances Burney and Jane Austen.’This article is particularly useful because it not only centers around female limitations in communication, but more general ideas of manners and politeness...

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