How Austen's world was affected by combat
"The Napoleonic Wars grew out of the French Revolution (1789-1802) and were a series of conflicts fought by various European allies against Napoleon's French Empire. They began in 1803 and ended with Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo in 1815. Britain was involved in the conflict throughout the Napoleonic Wars, but was specifically at war with France from 1803-1814. This long period of war sent ripples of dissatisfaction and unrest throughout British society."
This could lead to the reason behind the conflicts that Austen puts in P&P
"As Jane Austen’s life began, the global power that was Great Britain, under the rule of King George III was in the midst of a growing conflict with its American colonies which would result in the American Revolutionary War. This military conflict would be the first of three wars Great Britain would participate in during Austen’s short life. A decade after the North American colonies gained independence, the British Empire in the wake of the French Revolution would enter the Napoleonic Wars, and by 1812 was once again clashing with its former protectorate the United States. During this period of foreign upheaval the domestic English society in which Jane Austen was born into, women were not usually given the educational opportunities offered to men and marriage was the only viable option for economic security and being part of the social norm. Ironically, while most of Austen’s works centered on the business of providing husbands for daughters, she never married leading to speculation on her sexuality and social graces. "
This highly influenced the main problem she is trying to address in Pride and Prejudice: gender roles.
The French Revolution highly influenced her writing because of the personal ties to the war:
- Her sailor brothers Frank and Charles fought in the naval campaigns against France
- Her brother Henry was a member of the Oxford militia which protected England against the threat of French invasion
- Her cousin Eliza married a French count who was guillotined during the French Revolution.