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Student´s name: Flores Navarro, Begoña

Title of the paper: The role of women in Jane Austen, Emily Brontë  and Virginia Woolf novels.  

Author or topic: Jane Austen, Emily Brontë  and  Virginia Woolf.



In this paper, I will present in the introduction the main ideas of which I will treat this work, and in turn, present to the three authors of which we will talk about: Jane Austen, Emily Brontë and Virginia Woolf.

First I will describe the social history and political context of the United Kingdom during the nineteenth century, for a better understanding of the role of women in society and literature of that time. In addition, we will briefly their biographies. Then I will deepen and thus compare the role of women in the various works which I have chosen these authors: Women in Jane Austen through Pride and Prejudice (1813), Women in Emily Brontë through Wuthering Heights (1847) and Women in Virginia Woolf through Mrs. Dalloway (1925).

And finally, I will my conclusion, where I meet the general ideas that I consider most important and also my personal opinion, which includes the situation of women today. Therefore, the main objective of this paper is to show the view of the three writer for women reflected in each of the works analyzed.


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Academic year 2012/2013

 © a.r.e.a./Dr.Vicente Forés López

 © Begoña Flores Navarro



During the nineteenth century until the First World War, there is a proliferation of British women writers whose work transcended not only his country and his time but even today are still considered high quality. This would not be relevant if, first occurs in other countries and on the other if you do not take into account the social position occupied by women at that time, conditioned by its oy family, especially her husband, and limited by society because of their gender.

The fact is that there is a parallel in any other country and that these women having unfavorable circumstances, such as lack of independence, free time and own room, wrote, paving the way for future writers and other women would fight for equal rights.

Calling attention these circumstances, I decided to do this work, in order to analyze the work of these three writers and the evolution of women in the nineteenth century through the female characters they describe, as this century was very important to build sociological changes that occurred in the early twentieth century.

This work can be divided into several blocks. The first is the social context of the time and it is very important to better understand their work. Then we’ll talk a little about their biographies to learn about their different personalities and circumstances. Following this, we analyze separately the female characters in the work of each author and finally a brief conclusion where I expose my opinion and ideas I’ve considered most important.

The nineteenth century began with the reign of George III, during which Great Britain obtained the victory in the Seven Years War, lost the American colonies, coincided with the French Revolution, after which Britain stands as one of the most important European powers is unified the United Kingdom, with the addition of Ireland to the British Crown in 1800 and the Napoleonic wars occur confronting the United Kingdom to the expansionist policy of the government of Napoleon. It is a time of great political agitation, are poured continuous criticism of the government and English radicalism emerges. When dying George III was succeeded by his oldest son, who reigned first as prince regent and, since 1820, as George IV, but in 1830, died without descendants, and ascended the throne his brother William IV, and with it comes to power a cabinet of predominantly Whig ministers, chaired by Charles Grey.

In 1837 the old man William IV was succeeded by his granddaughter, will reign with the name Victoria. She and her husband Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha come to symbolize the Victorian virtues: a very close family life, the sense of public duty and social respectability.

Victorian beliefs and attitudes were also shaped by the revival of evangelical religion and utilitarian notions of efficiency and honest in business practice.

In the religious sphere is a time of doubt. God is not the answer to human problems. Nevertheless, there are still religious who refuse to progress and try to suppress the formation of man applying censorship.

In politics and society, highlighting the democratic movement, feminism, the union of workers, socialism and Marxism, among others. Thus, it is an era marked by the rise of the bourgeoisie and the reaffirmation of women. This is inserted in the workplace due to industrialization, the husband is financially independent, have access to culture and start editing and writing. In 1866 begin operating two women’s university colleges, and since 1880, the law allows married women to own their own property. But still think they are inferior to men and are not really free, what will happen later in the transition from the Victorian era to the twentieth century.

In the scientific field, the discovery of evolution makes it possible to explain the dynamics of the Universe, which overthrew what the Church proposed, as well as, low popularity and knowledge begins to focus on science, not superstition.

As regards the spirit of the Whig reform began in the reign of William IV, falls under the government of Lord Melbourne (1835-1841), and the economic depression of 1837 causing the appearance of two powerful organizations of protest. Supporters of Chartism, demand the immediate adoption of the People’s Charter, which would transform the UK in almost a political democracy with universal suffrage for men. The Conservative government of Sir Robert Peel (1841-1846) British tariffs reduces but increases the income tax to offset the losses, causing the split between the Conservatives and the return of the Whigs to power led by John Russell (1846 ). During the years of Peel and Russell the trend toward free trade continues, reinforced by the repeal of the Navigation Acts (1849).

On foreign policy, the alliance with the king of France, Napoleon III causes the UK to participate in the Crimean War in 1854. In 1857 and 1858, suffocates the Sepoy Mutiny, after which India becomes a British crown colony. In contrast, it stimulates autonomy colonized by white British possessions: Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Cape Colony (South Africa).

The United Kingdom maintains its leadership as the first boat builder and maximum commercial and financial power in the world and a big part of British workers increases their purchasing power.

Despite high levels of emigration to the British colonies and the United States more than 200,000 people each year between 1880 and 1890 , the population of England and Wales doubled between 1851 and 1911 (over 36 million) and the Scotland grows more than 60% (up to about five million). In Ireland, emigration reduced the population to about two million people, between 1847 and 1861, the years after the famine, more than two million people across the Atlantic to the United States.

In 1901, Queen Victoria dies and her son becomes king, Edward VII. With the end of the reign of the latter and the First World War can be seen that, despite not matching dates, ending the nineteenth century, and not until this time, in 1919 to get the vote for women.



Jane Austen 

Born in the parish of Steventon, Hampshire in 1775. Daughter of the rector of the parish, is the seventh of eight children. Not belongs to a rich family, but well-connected and high cultural level. Along with her sister Cassandra went to different schools up to eleven, from that time, she continues her education at home.

It is in this period, before age 25, who wrote three of his most important works: Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, although they were not published at the time.

In 1801 the family moved to Bath, and during the five years spent there does not write any works.

In 1805 her father died and moved to Southampton. But not until 1809, when the family moved again, this time at Chawton, when she begins to devote herself fully to his novels. Check novels already written and start new, as Mansfield Park, Emma and Persuasion. Her novels are beginning to publish but anonymously.

The year 1817  she dies leaving an unfinished new novel Sanditon.

Emily Brontë     

Emily Jane Brontë was born in 1818 in Thornton, in the north of England. The daughter of a cleric she lost her mother at an early age and educated along with his four sisters and her brother Branwell in a rectory isolated on the Yorkshire moors. For a brief period, attends Cowan Bridge school, but after the death of her sisters Maria and Elizabeth continued her education at home. Emily always stands out for her strong temperament and reserved character.  All her attempts to integrate into the world; a trip to Brussels along with Charlotte to learn French, a few months as a governess… are netted against a hasty return to the home where Emily remained until his death in 1848 at thirty years old.

In 1846, along with her sisters, decided to publish a book of poems, published under the title of Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. The reason to publish under a pseudonym is her writing, visceral and not without violence and passion nothing like a woman well educated in full Victorian era.

Then each sister embarks on a novel. Emily with Wuthering Heights in 1847 which will be published and will raise an uproar both in critics and public for its novelty and the way of describing the human passions shamelessly.


Virginia Woolf       

Virginia Stephen was born in London in 1882 into a family of upper-middle class. Her father is Sir Leslie Stephen, a literary critic and editor and her mother is the niece of pioneering photographer Julia Margaret Cameron. Virginia was the third of four children.

Is educated by their parents at home and the hours spent reading are actually her real training. To some extent a substitute for college courses which was rejected because of her gender.

Woolf suffers intermediate states of  depression, with the novel ‘Mrs. Dalloway’, gives a graphic account by the raids of Septimus Warren Smith. After the death of her father in 1904, mades a suicide attempt. However, that year was a landmark in other respects. Together with her sister and her younger brother, Vanessa and Adrian, moved to a house in Bloomsbury. Here she meets their brother’s college friends, prominent intellectuals, writers and other artists, including Clive Bell, Lytton Strachey, EM Foster, the art critic Roger Fry and her future husband, Leonard Woolf, among others.

Also in 1904, Virginia starts making regular articles and reviews in “The Guardian”, and in “The Times Literary Supplement”.

Again, in 1906, disaster hit her: Thoby’s death, her older brother, along with Vanessa engagement announcement with Clive Bell.

With all this, Virginia and Adrian settled into a new home.

Leonard Woolf to return to his job in the civil service in Ceylon, fell in love with Virginia , asks marriage.

After a period feel excited and sick, they moved to live in Sussex.

Here, at home, Leonard Woolf mounts his publishing company in 1917.

They learn to use a printing press and, eventually, lead the growth of a small but distinguished publishing firm, The Hogarth Press, Leonard Woolf being its director until his death.

In March 1941, during the depression, Woolf committed suicide jumping into the River Ouse.

Then, were published a large number of works, among them include: Night and Day, Jacob’s Room, Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, Orlando, and Room of One’s Own.


The peaceful life of the rural aristocracy of the English countryside, and particularly the Bennet family, is altered when they get two new neighbors, Bingley and Darcey, perfect candidates for any girl’s pretenders. Marriage plans meant that the mother has for her daughters will be mixed with individual intentions of each of them, will suffer all sorts of adventures and misfortunes, through which learn to correct their defects, and end up finding happiness in the case of Elizabeth with Darcy’s hand, after overcoming all the impediments placed by themselves and by others.

Women in Pride and Prejudice:

In all the work of Austen, the female character is very important and is always the protagonist of the story. There are some shared characteristic profiles depending on the novel be more important or less. In the case of the chosen work, having wide range of women in the cast, they accommodate different types of personality. Each sister embodies a character style, with its shades, virtues and defects. Appears kindness, intelligence and suspicion, the study, frivolity and pragmatism. It is always reflected the woman’s life revolves around marriage.

However, Mrs. Bennet was a woman of low intelligence rather uncouth and unequal temperament. His goal in life was to marry their daughters.

Bingley’s sisters were pretty nice, had been educated in one of the best schools in the capital and had a fortune twenty thousand pounds, belonged to a respected family in northern England.

However, as criticism of this, the author gives them a character hypocritical, arrogant and unpleasant, while the main characters gives them no such luxury and ancestry, but have intelligence and good feeling, yes, always with some defects along which the work will reveal, but unlike antagonists recognize and try to change.

This will be a feature in all the work of the author: the protagonist throughout the story make an inner journey through which more thoroughly know, will be conscious of their shortcomings and learn to change or at least accept. In the case of Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth learns that first impressions are not always true, but not only limited to this, but because of this, she realizes that her security itself is excessive, and therefore need a good dose of modesty. In other Austen novels will find this same trip: in Emma, the protagonist learns to stop playing with the safety of its perfection, in Sense and Sensibility Marianne extreme sensitivity makes you get sick, etc…

Already at that time the wickedness shows between women, discrediting more among themselves, rather than being criticized from the opposite sex:

“Elizabeth said Miss Bingley, when the door had closed behind her- is one of those girls who try to be nice to the opposite sex to your own discredit, I will say that does not give a result with many men, but in my opinion is a vile trick, a bad habit.” (Pride Prejudice, page 77.)

Also appears frequently male viewpoint about opposite sex typically by reducing it to a little lower, in fact, is the point of view of the society marked by men;

“I have often observed how little young people are interested to books with serious themes, though they were written for his sake. I confess that I am astonished, because he can do nothing so advantageous to them as instruction.”  (Pride and Prejudice, page 87)

However, women are not only despised by men, but is they who by their education and freedoms not granted to them or to others. This can be clearly seen when the protagonist acknowledge and agree that a man can marry for money to have some freedom and independence, but as is the case with Charlotte, her best friend, sees it as a gesture despicable and degrading.

But, she is inflexible about one thing, it is true that many women have admitted that frivolous and superficial characters, but does not consider the result of the fairer sex, but the consequence of poor education, which demonstrates that all and be one of the first writers and doesn’t show excessive feminist women does not consider at all inferior to men.


Mr. Earnshaw after a trip to Liverpool, brings two gifts: a violin and nearly wild child found abandoned on the streets of the city. Heathcliff (named by Mr. Earnshaw) comes to live with family and while Hindley Earnshaw, the eldest son, hates from the beginning to the intruder, his sister Cathy somewhat less than Heathcliff becomes your best friend.

This strange stability disappears with the arrival of Linton, whose children, Edgar and Isabella, have approximately the age of the Earnshaw. Refinement and social life bring dazzling just rejecting Heathclif Cathy, however, love that unites them is so great that convulsed his life and that of those around them.

Women in Wuthering Heights (1847)

In the only published work of the author that not be noted differences between the treatment given to male and female characters. Both have strengths and weaknesses that may be attributable to either of the two sexes. Does not make distinctions. Both genders expressed with equal force passions and feelings, affections, contempt and hatred. There is no reserve and restraint as a woman, no more authority and strength as a man.

The passionate side is found in the characters of Catherine and Heathcliff. Catherine is a girl raised in a “savage” uncivilized according to social norms of the moment, and therefore it will be a product of this, and not take into account any social norm or respect, as you can see, when front of more people stick to a maid:

“She kicked on the floor [Catherine] and then, after a brief hesitation, carried away by anger that the poisoning, I dealt a resounding blow that wiped my eyes with tears.” (Wuthering Heights. Page 114)

Both characters live their feelings to the limit, without finding terms mean, or estimate or hate. Despite their different origins and class there is nothing to separate them except themselves.

On the other hand, we find Edgar Linton and his family that represents the opposite of these characters. He is affable, patient, calm, kind, but to the extent that it becomes tedious, bland.

With this character and with Catherine we can observed as the author intended no distinction of sex. The powers attributed to Edgar Linton, are usually female characters themselves, while burning, the impetus, the effusion, the fervor of Catherine Earnshaw are more typical in other novels by men, such as the declaration of love that Kelly makes on HeathcIiff:

“He is my main reason for being. If all things perish but stay he could continue living. If, however, everything else remained and he were annihilated, the world would totally weird me and I do not seem to be part of it. “(Wuthering Heights, page 129)

Thus, the author creates her characters individually assigning each own certain characteristics, independent of gender and social status.


Clarissa Dalloway is preparing a banquet. Everything has to go perfectly, appropriate topics, perfect dresses, great dinner, the most important guests … While it deals with an old love appears. Now they are fifties, after thirty years without seeing, Clarissa reconnects with Peter Walsh, a man who could not forget Clarissa after she abandon him by Richard. As Peter spends the day thinking about his own life, in what might have been if he had married Clarissa, and begins to reject it because he can not stand to see the lost time. Clarissa turns its eyes on what always was and never saw: A snob.

The women in the novel:

The woman in the work, unlike previous authors, not confined to the home environment and knowledge of society is not limited to information through books, reading and study, but that is already part of it, knowing actively, through their own experience and directly. They are women with access to the political and social life of the time. In this way, politics will and doesn’t feel this world as exclusive to men:

“They stayed for hours and hours chatting in her bedroom on the top floor of the house, talking about life, about how they were going to reform the world. They intended to found a society to abolish private property, and actually came to write.” (Wuthering Heights, Page 39)

The female characters, choose to work for pleasure, are no longer an obligation resulting from poverty and economic need. Aspiration is related to the development of personality and independence.

On prototype high-class woman, described in the novel, Clarissa Dalloway personified, has more social freedoms, political and cultural, more individual freedoms in general, allowing you to make a critical reflection of their life and their decisions. However, prevailing social conventions just about everything else. We can see symbolized in the party prepares for the work, on which the plot turns, and finally carried out, being as fundamental values aesthetics and social prestige.


To end my work I have to say that the impact of these high-quality authors, can not say I have chosen the topic studied is the result of chance. There are some reasons, over the previous century women began to write, first translating the classics and later with his own work, as a resource for income.

To make this work I have seen the different points of view of three very different women caught in a society, with the same values that they share between them roughly, but that in turn each have a completely different approach.

And finally, I agree with Virginia Woolf when she claimed that the material circumstances were important to succeed in writing since money, time and place are three essential conditions to perform successfully any activity, not only writing. Together with these material circumstances, the access to university would have also provided women writers the appropriate educational training, the creativity and the intellectual freedom to write. Fortunately, nowadays, women of the western countries enjoy a much better situation than in the past, although there is not absolute equality between men and women. At present, a great number of women have the opportunity to receive a college education in order to be intellectually educated and earn money, place and time to write.


AUSTEN, J. Orgullo y prejuicio. Ediciones Cátedra, Madrid, 2000

BRONTË, E. Cumbres borrascosas. Alba Editorial, Barcelona 2001

WOOLF, V. La señora Dalloway. Alianza Editorial. Madrid, 2003

Barrett, Michèle. Women’s Oppression Today: The Marxist/Feminist Encounter. Revised Edition. ed. London and New York: Verso, 1980. Print.







Student´s name: Flores Navarro, Begoña

Title of the paper:  The role of women in Pride and Prejudice

Author or topic: Jane Austen



Jane Austen was an English writer, who has excelled influential works in the Western literary canon.

Let’s start with a brief introduction in which I explain what I will show in my Fist Paper.

To do this I have thoroughly studied the novel “Pride and Prejudice“, noting here the role of education, and therefore the role of women in the novel, so different from our current society and, we will discuss how different each of the female characters in this novel.  Moreover, we will see the cuture at the nineteenth century, that is definitely a key to understanding the work of the writer

To know who is Jane Austen, let’s take a look at his biography that can help us understand her novels. Also I invite you to click on this documentary about her life, to get to know this great writer that marked a before and after in the company of her time.

Jane Austen has a huge repertoire of works, of which you can see here in chronological order.

Finally, now that we know who is Jane Austen, I show my conclusion, where I explain my experience and impression in carrying out this blog and I invite you to enjoy in the in the same way as me.


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