A Close Analysis into the Portrayal of Female Protagonists Through the Lens of Gendered Authorship: Specifically looking into the works of Jane Austen, Frances Burney, John Cleland, and Samuel Richardson
Date of Award
Honors Thesis (Open Access)
Colby College. English Dept.
I explore the difference in gendered authorship in 18th century English literature. Choosing to focus on authors such as Jane Austen, Frances Burney, John Cleland, and Samuel Richardson, I aim to see if gender of the author matters in giving a realistic portrayal of eighteenth century British female protagonists, and if there actually is a difference depending on that gender (male or female, specifically). To do this, I perform case study comparisons. All chapters include a close textual analysis of the authors’ use of dialogue and narrative style for depicting their characters. Chapter 1 focuses on the comparison between Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Cleland's Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure. Through Austen and Cleland, I determine to what extent the actions and experiences of the protagonists are weighted by the author’s own personal background, and whether this influences the author's approach to the meaning of “realism” through their portrayal of Bennet and Hill. Chapter 2 focuses on the comparison between Burney’s Evelina, or the History of a Young Lady's Entrance into the World and Richardson’s Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded. This comparison looks at the extent to which Evelina and Pamela can be categorized as “accurate” to the eighteenth century British-aristocratic female. In the end I find that the author with the most "accurate" representation of women during this time is John Cleland's Fanny Hill. Then respectively followed by Frances Burney's Evelina, Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, and Samuel Richardson's Pamela.
British Literature, Eighteenth Century Authorship, Jane Austen, Frances Burney, John Cleland, Samuel Richardson
Recommended CitationBeyloune, Isabella G., "A Close Analysis into the Portrayal of Female Protagonists Through the Lens of Gendered Authorship: Specifically looking into the works of Jane Austen, Frances Burney, John Cleland, and Samuel Richardson" (2023). Honors Theses. Paper 1428.