Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Second Department


Reader 1

Lisa Cody

Reader 2

Kevin Moffett

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 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.