In Jane Austen’s works, the role and expectations of women in the 18th and 19th centuries are both reflected and questioned. My thesis outlines how Austen used her novels to represent the society in which she lived and how that society placed a sense of duty on women, specifically in terms of family, education, and marriage. Along with the representation of these duties, I also focus upon on how Austen uses her protagonists, primarily in the novels Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, and Mansfield Park, to question those standards and provide for her readers examples of women whom they could relate to and learn from as well. My major point of focus is how Austen challenges her readers to learn from the example set by her countercultural female protagonists. Finally, taking into account the ways which Austen reflects and challenges the roles of women, I conclude with a focus on how Austen emphasizes the importance of novels within her society, while also considering the impact that novel reading has in both the society in which Austen lived and in the 21st century.

Semester/Year of Award

Spring 2019


Susan M. Kroeg

Mentor Professional Affiliation

English and Theatre

Access Options

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Bachelor Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Degree Level



Clinical Therapeutic Programs

Department Name when Degree Awarded

Communication Sciences and Disorders