Date of Submission
Open Access Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
© 2020 Amanda Elizabeth Mell
This thesis explores the major themes and literary influences of Jane Austen’s novels through the voice of Evelina Edwards, a fictional girl born in Bath, England in 1784. Over the course of nine years, Evelina reconstructs her social world in a series of diary entries and letters, mirroring the anxieties and concerns of real women during the Regency era. Her writing juxtaposes the novel of manners with mystery, both satirizing trivial concerns and confronting emotional trauma in response to death and social isolation. Class hierarchy and gender roles placed heavy restrictions on women’s freedom, forcing them to carefully calibrate the consequences of their decisions. Ultimately, Evelina reconciles her desire for independence and her need for acceptance. By engaging in introspection and complex, moral reasoning, she develops empathy and learns to trust her own perceptions––independent of others’ ideas, but not impervious to them.
Mell, Amanda, "Mistaken Murder and Written Womanhood: The Evolution of Evelina Edwards in Late Eighteenth-Century and Early Nineteenth-Century Bath, England" (2020). CMC Senior Theses. 2452.