Jane Austen : lessons in "ladyhood" for both ladies and gentlemen of nineteenth-century England and beyond : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in English at Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand
Austen took up the literary challenge and wrote within the tight parameters set by the prevailing male society. She was able to portray her heroines as ideals of “ladyhood”, she rejected skewed masculine values unfavourable to women prevalent during her time. Her heroines discover feminine self-awareness, they have travelled the path of fundamental growth and maturation. Admired in her own century as having “nothing doctrinaire” in her work and ‘no trace of a woman’s mission’ (Parrish, p.370) in the hindsight of one hundred and fifty years; it is important to recognise both her teaching intent and her concern with female development, indeed, it is impossible not to recognise her “pondered intent” in relation to social and political issues generally that was eclipsed by earlier hegemonies.