Marital love in Jane Austen: a Peircean analysis of Lady Susan and Pride and Prejudice

Carmack, Matthew (2020) Marital love in Jane Austen: a Peircean analysis of Lady Susan and Pride and Prejudice. Doctoral thesis, University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

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Abstract

One way to view Jane Austen’s novels is as an exploration of her ideals for love and marriage, at least her conception of their possibilities within the culture of which she was a part. Because her stories generally present a series of married or courting character couples, they lend themselves well to analysis as a set of different but related representations of marriage. This dissertation uses the semiotic categories of Charles S. Peirce to analyze the representations of marriage in two of Austen's novels: Lady Susan, as an example of her early, experimental work; and Pride and Prejudice, as an example of her mature work. It tracks the increasing balance in her usage of the various representational modes outlined by Peirce in his semiotic categories, treating the various character couples in the stories as different signifier types, such as the Iconic, Indexical, and Symbolic types, as well as the predicted subtypes formed from mixing these three primary sign types. It also uses Peirce’s universal categories, which are the underlying primitives from which his sign categories are derived, to analyze the completeness of Austen’s conception of marital love, dividing the latter into such fundamental areas as love feeling, love interaction, and marital law, and into predicted subareas such as compatibility, virtue, and duty. The analysis yields new insights that are relevant to ongoing critical discussions of the tensions between the natural and the codified aspects of marriage, between the free and the constrained elements of the relationship, and between the ideal union and the pragmatic one. The results also suggest that Austen’s conception of marital love was surprisingly complete even in her late juvenile years, but that subsequently her novelistic art progressed significantly in semiotic integrity as she found and settled into the style of her mature novels.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Jane Austen, Lady Susan, Pride and Prejudice, Charles Pierce, semiotics, British literature, marriage, romanticism, novel, heterosexual love, feminism, patriarchy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Divisions: Theses and Dissertations > Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: Matthew Eugene Carmack
Date Deposited: 23 Mar 2020 10:20
Last Modified: 23 Mar 2020 10:20
URI: http://repository.uwtsd.ac.uk/id/eprint/1258

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