Witticisms in Jane Austen's works - Maxicours

Witticisms in Jane Austen's works

  • Découvrir un aspect de la thématique d'étude l'art du débat
  • Approfondir ses connaissances sur l'auteure Jane Austen et ses œuvres.
Points clés
  • Jane Austen est une célèbre romancière anglaise du 19me siècle :
    • Raison et sentiments
    • Orgueil et préjugés
  • Elle a mis son sens de l'écriture et sa langue aiguisée au service :
    • d'une critique de l'aristocratie anglaise
    • d'une dénonciation des injustices et préjugés subis par les femmes
  • Les personnages féminins de ses romans sont forts, souhaitent être émancipés et font preuve d'une grande répartie.
  • Certaines citations de ses héroïnes sont de véritables traits d'esprit prouvant les valeurs féministes, avant l'heure, de l'auteur.

Jane Austen was an English novelist who wrote about the aristocracy and often criticized it. She had a sharp mind and a sharp tongue as we can see in her books, and her personality is revealed through the famous quotes that her lead characters reveal to the reader. The author of Pride and Prejudice (1813) or Sense and Sensibility (1811) proved she could be very witty when writing a novel, and she did not hesitate to express herself and give her opinion on any topic, be it love, marriage, men, women, art, life ... or fashion.

1. Strong Female Characters and Feminism

Jane Austen is not what we could call a typical writer of romance as we could expect in 19th century England. Indeed, her female characters are not simple-minded girls in search of a husband, they are strong women who have to struggle in a man’s world and prove they can live by themselves. They are also admirable women who have taught generations of readers valuable lessons such as family relationships or the mere notion of being true to someone.

By instilling women’s equality and independence in her heroines, Austen seemed to explain that it was high time women stood for their rights to get some respect. Consequently, they shared feminist values, even though the term did not exist then. The examples above which we could qualify as some of Austen’s witticisms clearly show how the author’s characters were determined to get rid of the power that their husbands had on them:

Women should be able to freely and honestly speak their mind.
(Catherine in Northanger Abbey, 1817)
Don’t let other people’s terms define your actions.
(Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice)
Girls run the world.
(Emma in Emma, 1815)
Women always have the right to choose, and need to protect it.
(Fanny in Mansfield Park, 1814)
Be true to yourself and don’t let societal expectations restrict your happiness.
(Anne in Persuasion, 1818)

These quotes were meant to help the women’s condition and Austen probably reached her goal even if her inspiring attitude was not adapted to her time. But did she care? Probably not and her sharpened words were her weapon against injustice and prejudices that women had to face with in their everyday life.

2. Irony as a Way to Denounce

What may strike the reader is the tone used by Jane Austen in her writings. As was said earlier she was a writer with a sharp mind and she often used her characters to denounce pride and vanity. One of the most famous quotes illustrating this can be found in Pride and Prejudices when Mrs Bennett says:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

What must be understood here is that Mrs. Bennett sees the arrival of the gentleman, Charles Bingley, as an opportunity for one of her daughters to marry a wealthy man.

Here again, it is the women’s condition which preoccupies Jane Austen as well as the social difficulties they have to go through. That is the reason why the main characters in her novels are women. They are very clever, strong and they know how to analyze the situations surrounding them with accuracy. But they often do it with a good sense of humor:

One cannot be always laughing at a man without now and then stumbling on something witty.
(Pride and Prejudice)


Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance.
(Pride and Prejudice)
3. Conclusion

To conclude, we can say that Jane Austen was a remarkable writer and a woman ahead of her time. She introduced feminism in 19th century England and helped the women to get better conditions. She did not achieve this by using force but words instead, words which were far more powerful than any weapon.

Vous avez déjà mis une note à ce cours.

Découvrez les autres cours offerts par Maxicours !

Découvrez Maxicours

Comment as-tu trouvé ce cours ?

Évalue ce cours !


quote blanc icon

Découvrez Maxicours

Exerce toi en t’abonnant

Fiches de cours les plus recherchées

Langue littérature et culture anglaise

Old Major's speech in Animal Farm

Langue littérature et culture anglaise

Love and passion in Wuthering Heights

Langue littérature et culture anglaise

Annabel Lee by Edgar Allan Poe

Langue littérature et culture anglaise

Walkabout and Australian Aborigines

Langue littérature et culture anglaise

Matilda by Roald Dahl

Langue littérature et culture anglaise

Auld Lang Syne, a traditional song

Langue littérature et culture anglaise

Oscar Wilde and dandyism

Langue littérature et culture anglaise

The Highland Games

Langue littérature et culture anglaise

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Langue littérature et culture anglaise

James Joyce's Dublin

Des profs en ligne

  • 6j/7 de 17 h à 20 h
  • Par chat, audio, vidéo
  • Sur les matières principales

Des ressources riches

  • Fiches, vidéos de cours
  • Exercices & corrigés
  • Modules de révisions Bac et Brevet

Des outils ludiques

  • Coach virtuel
  • Quiz interactifs
  • Planning de révision

Des tableaux de bord

  • Suivi de la progression
  • Score d’assiduité
  • Un compte Parent