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Nora Bartlett

Published On


Page Range

pp. 113-132

Print Length

19 pages

7. Food in Jane Austen’s Fiction

  • Nora Bartlett (author)
Chapter of: Jane Austen: Reflections of a Reader(pp. 113–132)
This chapter begins by discussing an aspect that all Jane Austen novels have in common—all end with weddings—followed by a look at the domestic lives of her heroines in contrast to other characters. Bartlett examines the greater meaning of food in Austen's novels, focusing on Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility; the connection between Austen's heroines and a lack of appetite; and the heroines' avoidance of extremes. There is a brief history of "conduct literature," as well as its connection to Austen and her writing. Bartlett explores Austen's attitude toward food; the quality of food in eighteenth century urban areas; and framing in Austen's writing: the reader watches every scene, participates in it, through one of the heroines. This chapter also discusses late eighteenth and early nineteenth century "fashionable life" late hours, as it applies to Austen's novels; the choice of seasons (in Austen's novels) in which the main action takes place; and how autumn and winter had an affect on what time of day daily routines were performed. Eighteenth-century meals and mealtimes are covered. Bartlett examines the arrangement of dishes and dining style in eighteenth and early nineteenth century England (diagram included); seating arrangements, including "promiscuous seating"; and the social aspect of dinner parties, including its relation to Austen's novels. Finally, a brief look at how gruel has been regarded and its place in Austen's Emma.


Nora Bartlett