Austen's Physicalized Mimesis

Amy M. King

in Bloom

Published in print October 2003 | ISBN: 9780195161519
Published online September 2007 | e-ISBN: 9780199787838 | DOI:
 Austen's Physicalized Mimesis

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This chapter explores how the representation of the sexual content of “public” courtship is achieved in Jane Austen's novels. It argues that bloom underpins the marriage plot and, unlike the picturesque landscape or the garden, is not an overt subject within the narrative, except for the occasional reference to blooming complexions. Rather, bloom is a narrative indicator of sequence and action leading to the novel's closure in marriage. Detailed readings of four Austen bloom plots (Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, and Persuasion) are used to show how these texts represent the sexual dimension to courtship. In doing so, the argument about bloom suggests an alternative account of readerly pleasure in closure, one that emphasizes the sexual potential with which the novel closes: marriage as the initiation into an already forecast erotics.

Keywords: public courtship; sexual content; Jane Austen; English novel; marriage; sexuality

Chapter.  30565 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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