Essay on The Themes Of Women 's Learning And Education

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The themes of women 's learning and education in Northanger Abbey helps establish that women were not necessarily valued based on their intelligence. Jane Austen writes, “to the larger and more trifling part of the sex, imbecility in females is a great enhancement of their personal charms, there is a portion of them too reasonable and too well informed themselves to desire anything more in woman than ignorance” (76). By Austen endorsing women to be ignorant to add to their character, she is doing so ironically. Because previously language and literacy has allowed society to oppress those who were illiterate, it is unlikely women received the same education opportunities as men. However, Catherine is well-read and educated, but her knowledge is often limited and mistaken. Since Catherine 's femininity is favored her corrections from Henry do not demean her or feminine wit. Instead, Henry sees potential in Catherine and women, suggesting his criticism is only meant to sharpen Catherine 's thinking. Henry states, “perhaps the abilities of women are neither sound nor acute-neither vigorous nor keen. Perhaps they may want observation, discernment, judgment, fire, genius, and wit”(77-78). As Catherine 's parallel and favored male character, Henry is a reliable source for endorsing female traits. Though his definition of feminine character is simple, he is fairly accurate. To narrow down definitions of femininities, we will consider how gender affected literature in Northanger…

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