Jane Austen and the Regency Era

The life, Jane Austen and Women During the Regency Era

Jane Austen's Early Life

Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775 in Steventon, Hampshire, England. She was one of seven children and was the second daughter of Cassandra and George Austen. When Jane was growing up, her family was really close and they all grew up in an environment that emphasized learning and thinking. During her youth, her and her siblings were encouraged to read from their father's large collection of books, and they often put on plays.
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Jane Austen's Adolesceance

Jane Austen grew up surrounded by the pressure to read, write, and learn. However during her teenage to young adult years, Jane spent a lot of time at home, caring for her family. She also spent time playing the piano, socializing, and attending church. She became a wonderful dancer through the evenings she spent attending cotillions.

Education

In order to require a more stable education, Jane and Cassandra were sent to boarding school during Jane's teenager years. While going to boarding school , Jane and her sister caught Typhus which is an infectious disease caused by rickettsiae. Jane almost failed to recover from the illness. After a short period of education, it was cut by financial restraints and the girls returned home to live and help with the family. The picture below is Reading Ladies Boarding School where Jane and Cassandra attended to get a better education.
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Writing Career

Jane Austen had a passion for writing and six of her books were published including Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, and a couple more. Before coming up with these novels, Jane began to write in bound notebooks. In the 1790's she began to write her own novels and wrote Love and Friendship. Pride and Prejudice is set through the rural country side and seems to bear the traces of turmoil. At the end of the 18th century, industrialization and urbanization began to take hold and the landed gentry was an inspiration in her novels.
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The Regency Era

The Back Story of the Regency Era

The Regency Era was relatively short in length. It lasted from February 1811 until January of 1820. When George III fell ill in 1810, he was unable to rule because of mental incapacity. Because of this, the Regency act was passed making his son, George Prince Regent, the new ruler. When George III died in 1820, the Regent became King George IV and was able to rightfully rule.

Women of the Regency Era - Relationships and Marriage

Relationships in the Regency Era were very different from the type of relationship we know today. Today, we expect both people to be faithful in a relationship but during the Regency Era, men could marry for money, love, convenience or power and were not expected to be faithful. When engaging women, men could ask them to dance but women only had the power to refuse. If they did however, they had to act as though they didn't intend on dancing with anyone so they wouldn't offend the man who asked. If there were more women than men at an event, it was acceptable for men to dance with more than one woman throughout the night. It was also acceptable for women to dance with other women in this situation. Dates and the time before engagement were different as well. A couple could not talk privately or be alone in a room prior to being engaged. The couple also could not travel unchaperoned, call each other by Christian names or give each other gifts.
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Women in the Regency Era - Ideal Personality

Today, women are given equal opportunity to do and say whatever they like, However, in the Regency Era, women were expected to act a certain way. They were not to have opinions on things and they were supposed to be quiet. Women were expected to do as their husbands said. Also during this time women were supposed to be modest and the prettier the better. If a woman showed too much wit or understood manly things like playing cards or boxing, they were called 'hoydens' (a carefree woman who was usually boisterous). Women had very little say in things they did and relied almost entirely on their husbands.

Mothers During the Regency Era

During the regency Era, childbirth was often fatal for mothers. A midwife, often uneducated or inexperienced, would deliver the child, with a 20% mortality rate for mothers. During the early 1800s, childbirth was a leading cause of death, and even if the mother didn't have fatal results, she could very well become extremely ill. Immediately after childbirth, mothers that did survive would be put on bed rest with a strict diet to help her recover. With a limited amount of medicine and treatments, mothers were often faced with brutal treatments and harsh sicknesses. Spectators wonder now if Jane Austen never had children of her own due to the likeliness of death. She watched four of her sister-in-laws die at childbirth. At one point she stated that her books were like children to her.

Fashion

Napoleon Bonaparte had a big influence on fashion during the Regency Era. Bonaparte was crowned Emperor in 1804 and wanted to make France a leader of fashion. He stopped the import of English textiles so that the fine fabrics that he wanted could be made in the factories. To make women buy more material, he prevented them from wearing the same dress to court. He also blocked fireplaces so that women would have to wear more clothing. Women were not the only ones that Bonaparte targeted with fashion, he also made men in the military wear white satin breeches on formal occasions.
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There were many different types of clothing during the Regency Era such as the Chemisette, Empire dress, and the Short Spencer Jacket. All of these styles and fashions came throughout the Regency Era and caught on quick with the women of this time. There were many different styles and expenses in clothing. People who were more rich would by more expensive clothing and vice versa. There were also many different types of fabrics that were used to make these types of clothing. The fabric made the clothes more expensive and less expensive.

What did Women Do in the Day Time?

With little freedom and many restrictions, women didn't have many leisurely activities. Often times they were looking for men to marry, a security net for their life. They spent a lot of time caring for their families. Without much to do, they spent lots of time socializing, attending parties and balls, gossiping, and indulging in the latest fashion trends. Women had moderately boring lives during the Regency Era
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