Writing on Women Writers

A site for college students to write about women writers.

Jane Austen, Irony, and Endings

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Humor has played an important role in culture and our society as a whole. The contradictory nature of humor in many ways can play an unseen hidden and divisive figures and themes that effect our society.

Jane Austen was a prophetic women writer understood that in writing you must creating characters and themes. Austen was great at creating subtitle irony and creating a whole aurora for endings. In many of Jane Austen’s writing she understood that in ending of the book led to many conclusions. However, Austen would take herself out of the equation and in writing a role for a character.

Austen effectively uses a sense of self-consciousness from the characters angle when discussing that creates a layer of self awareness for the reader to look at the character through.

Austen’s endings will often mock the traditional “canons of poetic justice” a plot that is important to a novel that holds a happy ending. In many of Austen’s works, she will have an ending that is seemingly happy but with her writing she really questions the role of the character. Instead what Austen will focus on is a natural and realistic view of the character. This is a focus that is more realistic to the “superfluously happy ending” that you might see in a fairy tale or novel at the time.

Austen’s conclusion, while similar to a novel in many ways are meant to be held with irony and will allow the reader to decide for themselves whether they have a true happy ending or not.

In Northanger Abbey, Austen breaks the 4th wall in her book by speaking directly to the reader and asks the question of happiness between Catherine and Henry Tilney’s love.

“Can hardly extend, I fear, to the bosom of my readers, who will see in the tell- tale compression of the pages before them, that we are all hastening together to perfect felicity. The means by which their early marriage was effected can be the only doubt” (p. 250, The Novels of Jane Austen).

Austen’s sense of irony and satire can be seen in this sentence, her writing mocks the “traditional happy ending” in a way that asks that you create a mocking image of traditional novels and such.

We see this same sort of tone in her novel persuasion describing the same happy ending in kind. This is a conscious choice by the author to make a different sort of novel in her writing to describe the perfect ending in a mocking sense

“Who can be in doubt of what followed? When .any two young people take it into their heads to marry, they  are pretty sure by perseverance to carry their point, be they ever so poor, or ever so imprudent, or ever so little likely to be necessary to each other’s ultimate comfort” (p. 248, The Novels of Jane Austen).

This isn’t a coincidence, this mocking theme is noted in a letter to Caroline Austen as she writes of her characters “happy” endings.

“I hope he hung himself, or took the surname of Bone or underwent some direful penance or other.”2 But on the whole her letters are highly critical of the unrealistic extremes of sentimental and didactic fiction. She derides “the common Novel style” of “handsome, amiable, unexceptionable” heroes, confesses that “pictures of per- fection” make her “sick & wicked,” and compliments Anna Austen onthe portrayal of a character that is neither “very Good” nor very Bad.” (Brown, 1582)


Austen’s angry letter to Caroline give us a rare insight on the disguised endings of her novels and her feelings towards the characters perfect features written in novels. It is interesting to see the perspective come to an ending in Austen’s novel as she writes an almost contradictory statement towards the endings of her novel. This ironic tone is a clear flag to the reader to not except perfection from your reading but to understand the complex nature of man and relationships.

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