This was an essay question on my “Jane Austen and Her Contemporaries” final exam:
Readers who don’t like Austen’s novels complain about the narrowness of her themes. They sometimes accuse her of ignoring the world outside her narrow society and of forsaking broader, historical—and more “important”—themes for a relatively small set of preoccupations and concerns. How would you respond to such a critic?
I have my own response already written that I’m planning on sharing, but first I’d like to hear from some others. What do you think? Are Jane Austen’s themes too narrow? Does she ignore historically important events? I would like to get a good discussion started, so let me know your opinion in the comments! 🙂by