This page includes the cumulative results of University of Maine at Farmington students’ close study and research on Austen’s juvenilia. Originally this information appeared on a wiki site called Wikspaces. As of July 31, 2018, the site will no longer function. Therefore, I have copied and pasted the information from that site to this one.
This wiki is devoted to helping readers become familiar with and better understand Austen’s early writings–her juvenilia. Between the ages of 11-17, Austen composed these short works, but they were not published in her lifetime. Not until the 20th century were these works made available to the public. The passages from Austen cited in this wiki come from the pages of Jane Austen’s Fiction Manuscripts.
Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775, to George and Cassandra Austen, at at Steventon Rectory in Hampshire, England. Jane was the Austen’s seventh child. Austen was mostly educated at home, her father taught live-in pupils. Austen had unusual access to the world mostly through her brothers. Her brothers Francis and Charles were officers in the navy, and they served on ships that sailed through the world. Austen’s brother Henry eventually became a clergyman like their father was first an officer in the militia, and later a banker. Jane Austen frequently visited him in London. Jane attended theater and art exhibitions as well as social events in London. She also corrected proofs of her novels there. Jane’s brother, Edward, was adopted by wealthy cousins, the Knights, and became their heir and took on their name. Austen experienced the privileged life of the landed gentry when she visited her brother, Edward at his estate, Godmersham, his estate in Kent. Through her brothers, Austen was able to better understand the world due to their many travels. However, her brother Henry had been a huge influence on her, as she visited the theater with him in London. This inspired some of the characters in her writing. The daughter of a country clergyman and his wife, Jane Austen was very close to her family, as she frequently dedicated her stories to many of her family members, including her sister, Cassandra, who had been her best friend.
Several stories composed by Austen during her adolescent years (age 11-17) had been created into three volumes titled, Volume the First, Volume the Second, and Volume the Third. As these three volumes were only circulated around her friends and family, these stories were seen as more comical and displayed her adolescent angst, which included violence, sexual misdemeanor, and drunkenness. In her early twenties, Austen had written versions of Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, two novels that display a more reserved side of Austen and have become well known to the public eye. At the age of 41, Austen died due to her failing health. Her sister, Cassandra was named as her heir, and her brother Henry, along with a “biographical notice”, had Persuasion and NorthangerAbbey published. At that point, Austen became acknowledged for her other works including, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, and Emma. Though she composed such famous works, Austen was was never publicly acknowledged as a writer while she was alive. Austen has become a widely acclaimed author, even as her earlier comic work, better known as her juvenilia, had not been publicly acknowledged until after her death on July 18, 1817.
3. Background on Austen’s Juvenilia
Throughout her adolescence, Austen wrote several comic stories, which are now commonly referred to as Juvenilia. Austen’s collection of Juvenilia consists of three childhood notebooks in which the young writer wrote several stories ranging in genre from short stories to dramatic sketches and even verses. The journals include a variety of genres including poetry, short fiction, epistolary stories and ‘novels’ by Austen’s definition, however, we today may regard them as novellas. This work was written in 1792, whereas the earliest dates within the Juvenilia are from 1787, when Austen was only 11 or 12. Although written in her teenage years, these works were added to, revised and worked on all throughout her adult life, Austen did not simply leave them in her childhood. Most of the work found in these three notebooks were often inspired and dedicated to Austen’s own family or close circle of friends who would often recite or act out several of these pieces.
The journals today are located at the Bodleian Library and the British Museum, however, the general public has access to these journals at the website titled Jane Austen’s Fiction Manuscripts where photographs of the hand-written pages of Austen’s Juvenilia are provided alongside a typed translation.
Scholars are greatly interested in Austen’s Juvenilia due to what the writing reveals about the young author. Since Austen’s childhood writings often differ in both style and themes than her well-known novels, scholars are able to better observe how Austen may have altered and edited her work in order to conform to publication norms. For example, in her Juvenilia, Austen scarcely uses paragraphs or chapters, which may show that in order to publish her later novels, Austen needed to go back and add paragraph breaks and chapters to conform to what was expected of novels during that time.
Other than the inspiration from her family and friends, Austen’s Juvenilia was also heavily influenced by popular genres of Austen’s time. Several of Austen’s childhood writing outright mocked the sentimental novel. One may observe Austen’s criticism for this genre through her mimicry of the seemingly perfect heroes and heroines who end up only being ridiculous in the eyes of the reader.
Not only is Austen’s Juvenilia meant to act as parody for popular genres and faults that Austen was witnessing within society, but Juvenilia also provides the reader with an insight into Austen’s natural writing style. Due to the fact that it’s one of the much later works of her Juvenilia many claim that it reveals the direction in which her writing was to continue in throughout her well-known published novels. Some may even refer to this work as a “betweenity” (Bree, Sabor & Todd 23) meaning “Gone, for the most part, is the Burlesque or satire of other novels, and gone too, is the intention to play the story primarily for laughs” as many of her earlier works did. “Instead, ‘Catherine’ [also known as Kitty], has much more in common, in approach, tone, and content, with the later manuscript narratives, and indeed with the published novels” (Bree, Sabor, & Todd 23). These novels in which many today are familiar with include but are not limited to Pride & Prejudice.
4. Kitty, or The Bower
Kitty, or the Bower is an unfinished short fiction manuscript included in “Volume the Third” of Jane Austen’s three books of Juvenilia. Kitty, or the Bower is in fact a later novel, or novella as we would consider it today, of Austen’s Juvenilia, dating 1792 when she was roughly 17 years old. The story takes place in England where a young girl named Kitty finds herself cautiously falling for the son of the Stanleys, their house guests for the summer.
“Kitty” (also known as Catherine)
Our heroine Catherine, originally named Kitty before Austen’s revisions, is a 15 year old young woman who resides with her maiden Aunt, Lady Percival (originally named Peterson) due to the loss of her parents at a young age. Kitty is intelligent, level-headed but otherwise isolated from the public due to her aunt’s fear of her misbehaving and becoming involved with men she may come across. Due to either her aunt’s scrutiny or her friendship with the Wynne girls Kitty takes solace in retreating to the Bower in which the Wynne’s and her shared, when in need of grounding herself along with regaining her composure. Kitty’s female companions, the Wynne’s, move away at the beginning of the story and one Camilla Stanley, the daughter of the Stanley’s, who come to stay for the summer, unfortunately fails to fill this void. Kitty instead becomes intrigued and perhaps encaptured by Camilla’s older brother Edward, who suddenly arrives at Kitty’s residence unexpectedly. She begins to fall for Edward until learning of his desire to simply infuriate Lady Percival by pretending to be romantically interested in Kitty. Disappointed, Kitty forgives Edward until the next morning when she is left ruminating the knowledge that Camilla provides, that he had to go by force of his father, yet wishes her not to be married upon his return, among other romantic notes.
Lady Percival is the aunt and guardian of our title character, Kitty. She constantly scrutinizes Kitty’s behavior and watches over her extremely closely. She never allows Kitty to come in contact with any male counterparts Kitty could possibly swoon over, at least when it is within her control. Lady Percival also constantly worries over her own health and believes the beloved Bower of Kitty’s will make anyone who lingers in it for too long become extremely ill. Not only does she not allow Kitty around prospective men but she is herself unmarried, also referred to as a maiden. Throughout the course of the story Lady Percival is chastising Kitty for her behavior due to her interest in Edward Stanley and also consistently becoming angered by Edward and his behavior under her household, which is in fact his sole intention in his actions of interest and affection regarding Kitty.
Cecilia Wynne is the elder of the two Wynne daughters who resided in the home next door to Kitty and her Aunt. The Wynne daughter’s parents both passed away within months of each other and as the story opens the girls have been forced to leave their home and be taken into the care of family members, however, not together. Cecilia was equipped by a cousin of hers to set out for the East Indies in order to find a husband to take care of her. As soon as she arrives Cecilia is married to a man twice her age. Kitty describes the marriage as “…so contrary to her Wishes, so repugnant to her feelings, that she would have almost preferred Servitude to it, had choice been allowed her–” (Kitty, or the Bower 34).
Mary Wynne is the youngest of the sisters and when she is separated from Cecilia she is sent at roughly the same time to a relation named Dowager Lady Harifax. Mary departs for England with this woman and hears from her more often than from Cecilia due to the much closer location she is in. Although she has not been forced to marry like her sister, Kitty describes Mary’s letters as being “…scarcely more comfortable than her sisters” (Kitty, or the Bower 35). Her letters implied depressed thoughts and this was strongly caused by the separation from her sister. Kitty held such a strong bond with the Wynne sisters that when they left she was heart-broken, when Kitty was “Divided thus from the two she loved best on Earth, while Cecilia and Mary were still more endeared to her by their loss…” she realized that “…everything that brought a remembrance of them was doubly cherished, & the shrubs they had planted, & the keepsakes they had given were rendered sacred” (Kitty, or the Bower 35).
Mr. & Mrs. Stanley
Mr. & Mrs. Stanley are the parents of Camilla and Edward Stanley, along with distant relatives of Lady Percivals who come and stay with the Percivals for a fair amount of time during the summer in which Kitty’s story takes place. Within the text, the Stanley’s are referred to as “distant relations” of Lady Percival’s and people of “Large Fortune and High Fashion” (Kitty, or the Bower 38). Mr. Stanley was “a Member of the House of commons” (Kitty, or the Bower 38). Readers get to learn much more about Mrs. Stanley versus Mr. Stanley, through Kitty’s description. She describes Mrs. Stanley as being a handsome woman but of wasting a great deal of her mental capacity in studying music, Italian and drawing instead of educating herself with books. Through this statement of Kitty’s regarding Mrs. Stanley it becomes apparent how Austen herself may have thought of these skills. Mrs. Stanley particularly excelled with drawing, therefore in Kitty’s eyes she had an “Understanding unimproved by reading and a mind totally Devoid either of Taste of Judgement” along with “…a love of books without reading, was Lively without Wit, and was generally good humoroured without Merit” (Kitty, or the Bower 41). It is obvious to Kitty’s audience that although these are well off & successful distant relatives of theirs, they are a family worried about their appearances and name and are also not the most intelligent individuals.
Camilla Stanley arrives at the Percivals with her parents, Mr. & Mrs. Stanley. Kitty is immediately drawn to her as she is close in age along with the only prospective female companion Kitty has for the summer now that the beloved Wynne sisters tragically departed. Kitty’s first interaction with Camilla is somewhat of a test where she questions her of her familiarity with some well-known books, which the reading of Kitty highly values in a companion. Camilla seems at first promising candidate for a best friend before she begins to talk of how bored she gets with longer novels and how little value she gives to the details of such rich a text. Camilla redirects the conversation to much more shallow topics than of readings, such as how her friend “Augusta told [her] in her last letter that Sir Peter talked of going” to Derbyshire to Matlock and Scarborough, where Camilla was to go and “…[She] cannot bear Sir Peter, he is such a horrid Creature” (Kitty, or the Bower45). These matters mean nothing to Kitty but she plays along, replying with such phrases to entertain Camilla as “He is, is he?” (Kitty, or the Bower 45). Kitty, although unpleased with the interests of her companion allows her to befriend her on kind terms.
The vastly handsome Edward unexpectedly enters the story part way through, after his parents and sister have already made themselves at home in the Percival residence. At first, it seems as though he has arrived as a stranger in order to take Kitty to the ball at the next door neighbors, where the rest of the household already had departed to, but it is later revealed that he has returned home due to the unexpected sickness of a mare of his. Although the sole purpose of his arrival is to come to his horse’s aid he ends up escorting Kitty to the ball after all. Edward is not invited to the ball yet he exclaims “Oh! Hang them; who cares for that; they cannot turn me out of the house” (Kitty, or the Bower 79). It becomes obvious that Edward basks in breaking rules and turning heads through this and later actions. He even presents himself as rude in disposition as he “kept her waiting for him above half an hour” and then had the audacity to tell Kitty to “come, the Carriage is ready; so, do not keep me waiting” (Kitty or the Bower, 80-81). A later scene, including an exceptionally late entrance to the dance, provokes stares and unhappiness from all parties, especially from Mrs. Percival. From the ball onward Kitty seemingly falls more and more for him until she discovers he has been courting her for the sake of irritating her aunt, not because he has true feelings for her. Upset and hurt Kitty forgives him until the morning after he is forced to leave by his father, where she discovers through Camilla’s words that he deeply cared for her and would even marry her if he returned to find her still unwed.
Kitty, or the Bower, similar to the majority of Austen’s Juvenilia begins with a dedication to a family member, in this case being to Cassandra. She regards of this novel that “I humbly flatter myself, possesses Merit beyond any already published, or any that will in future ever appear…” (Austen 30). This of course is a joke of which the origin is unknown but that likely is satirical of other novels of the time or is perhaps a running joke between her sister and dearest friend Cassandra, the dedicatee.
The novel opens with the main character, a young woman named Kitty (later changed to Catherine by Austen) who lived in a home with her maiden Aunt, Mrs. Peterson (later changed to Percival by Austen), due to losing her parents at a very young age. Mrs. Percival is described as loving towards Kitty but typically watched and scrutinized her too closely. Although this irritated Kitty, she didn’t allow for it to get her down. She kept her spirits up by frequenting her beloved Bower where she could revel and return to her good mannered composure. This Bower is also where Kitty typically visited with her dearest companions Mary and Cecilia Wynne, until their parents both passed and both were forced away to alternative futures. Mary was sent to an Aunt, Mrs. Halifax, where she was treated like a daughter and Cecilia was sent overseas where she married a wealthy man. Both Wynne’s wrote to Kitty occasionally and professed they were most miserable in their current situations. Kitty missed and thought of her companions often, she longed for a friend to pass time with.
The neighbors who replaced the Wynne family were nothing like them and Kitty was frustrated by this until one day her aunt told her that soon they would have company by the name of the Stanley’s, who would stay with them a good deal of the summer. This was all Kitty could think about until it began to be too much–she could hardly finish her studies properly. When they finally arrived Kitty was a bit flustered by the Stanley’s and their daughter Camilla. She was indeed excited to have another young girl her age around but the conversations and topics discussed in them were not at all what Kitty would call satisfactory. Camilla talked of reading which excited Kitty but she then added that some books she read were too long and she often skipped the details–which appalled Kitty and her love of great novels. Camilla desired to talk of dress, or fashion, and gossip about friends from back home. This did not please Kitty at all yet she had not decided if she would pursue further relations with the girl because she was in fact the only possible female companion for her around.
One day when Kitty was out in the Bower Camilla came running to her about the Dudley’s and that they were to hold a ball. Excited at the thought of dressing up and attending such a fancy occasion it was all the girls could think about until the day of. Unfortunately, as the hour approached, Kitty came down with a rotten toothache and it was determined that she would not be able to attend. Much to Camilla’s dismay, Kitty took this quite maturely and concluded that there were worse things that could have happened than missing the ball. Once the rest of the household had gotten dressed and departed Kitty’s toothache began to ease and it finally had diminished so much that she determined she could attend after all! Kitty in a hurry got ready, but while in her dressing room her nanny came to her, bringing news of an interesting gentlemen at the door that she suspected wanted to bring Kitty to the ball. Completely doubtful of this, Kitty nervously crept downstairs where she found herself standing in front of a handsome young man. The man began to talk to Kitty as though they’d known each other for years and after a while Kitty embarrassingly asked who he was as he had not yet introduced himself. The man turned out to be Edward Stanley, the son of the Stanley’s, and was at the Percival’s residence to bring horrible news. After more conversation it was determined he would escort her to the ball after he took half an hour (not long according to him) to get ready and then ironically hurried Kitty out of the house.
Once they arrived at the ball Kitty discussed how they would get the Dudley’s permission for him as her guest and then meet with his parents as well as her aunt. Mr. Stanley interjected and said it was completely unnecessary, however, when they arrived it was less than welcomed by most of the individuals previously listed. They thought the arrival rude and disrespectful, yet Edward was correct that they had in fact captured the room’s attention. Camilla, Edward’s younger sister, was disgusted with the fact that her brother would associate himself with Kitty due to the different in propriety of the two families. Once everyone calmed down and apologies took place Kitty couldn’t help but begin to become taken with the young man.
The next day, Kitty’s aunt instructed her that she best not become involved with the young man and that her actions had already been unacceptable. As the day wore on it was obvious that Edward was infatuated with the young girl. He would express concern when she left the room, took everything she said extremely seriously and flattered her greatly. Each time any sign of Edward’s attraction toward Kitty took place Mrs. Percival became more and more angered. That evening when Edward and Kitty were walking in the bower, Kitty realized just how taken she was and thought she was even perhaps falling in love with Edward. Mid-conversation, Edward abruptly kissed Kitty’s hand and ran off. It wasn’t long until she realized why this happened–her aunt was headed their way. She lectured Kitty a great while how impudent her behavior had been and that it was even a betrayal to her kingdom to behave in such a way, against the ways of the people. She told her Kitty would have to repent to be forgiven but that it wasn’t too late. Kitty argued for a bit until she played on her aunt’s tenancy to worry for her own health. She told her how surprised she was that she was out in the bower so late at night. At this, Mrs. Percival quickly began a rant about how it would take her 10 months to recover from the cold she most likely had just contracted. Kitty returned to the house with her Aunt where she was then instructed to go and apologize to the Stanley’s for her actions.
When her apology is nearing an end Camilla and Edward enter the room where Edward has a good laugh about how disgruntled Mrs. Percival had become out in the bower. Here, he admits to purposely fooling Mrs. Percival into thinking he wanted to be lovers with Kitty. Kitty becomes so upset that when she leaves she has a sort of internal argument with herself however, in the end she decides to forgive Edward. When she wakes up in the morning she finds that Edward has already left for France. At this, Kitty becomes most upset and finally accepts that Edward could never have had any feelings of affection toward her. Shortly after, Camilla enters where she tells Kitty of her departure with her brother that morning. He had come to Camilla’s room and told her to tell Kitty goodbye for him because he never would have been able to part her had he gone to her room. Camilla continues saying that he wished that he never had to depart but that he wishes she would not marry until his return–which could be years. It is here discussed that Edward would have married her immediately had Mr. Stanley not enforced Edward’s prior commitments to go abroad. Once Camilla leaves the room Kitty is consumed by a sort of internal dialogue where she concludes that perhaps Edward truly was good at heart and this is how he so quickly fell in love with her. Her feelings toward him are quickly altered from the previous night and she begins thinking of him as a man higher than herself for pulling himself away from something he felt so attached, while she selfishly slept on. She then departed her room and headed for her Aunt’s apartment, leaving behind the vanity of young women or the unaccountable conduct of young men. Her mind, how happily made up, was beyond the power of change.
The novel here ends but a few years later a nephew of Austen’s, James Edward Austen, whom along with others of their family thought the novel yet completed, continued on a few more pages to conclude the novel. The happenings in here remain insignificant however, as the continuation was never completed either.
When taking the title, originally Kitty, or the Bower to the edited Catharine, or the Bower, into consideration, one must grapple with the bower being symbolic of Kitty’s solitary childhood. As proved throughout the text the bower offers Kitty a kind of tranquility and serenity that the hustle and bustle of social life drains her of. The or of the title seems to represent a choice in which Kitty must make internally. This choice is between the serene childhood that she once cherished, and continues to through valued relics of her beloved companions (the Wynne sisters), along with her common visits to the bower or the refinement to a high class social life in which Camilla and Edward Stanley offer Kitty through their desired companionship. Kitty realizes that she cannot have it both ways and that one must be forgotten. It is interesting as well to consider the power in the name change that Austen makes throughout her manuscript revisions. At first, the title and character is referred to as Kitty, which is in fact a more childish nickname for Catharine. On top of this detail is the fact that Austen’s consistency in spelling the changed name, Catharine, is not without flaw. Austen uses the spellings Catharine and sometimes Catherine throughout the text. The implication this has is perhaps that the spelling itself was not determined officially and was not even significant to Austen, as this piece of writing was not published in her lifetime. When the name is changed from Kitty to Catharine however, it begs a different question: When exactly does this girl Kitty become the woman Catharine? Perhaps this is manifested in the choice she makes in regards to remaining in or leaving behind her cherished bower.
Jane Austen wrote her early fiction in the last decade of the eighteenth century. Her juvenilia stories are known for being boisterous, comical, and youthful. Austen makes witty comments about relationships and romance. Many of her stories are based on other popular novels published during her time or history books she read as a young girl. Austen’s work relies on parody and realism. Some of the events described in Austen’s stories actually happened, but she puts a playful or comical spin on them. Anthony Mandal describes Austen’s juvenilia style as “declamatory, theatrical, rich, dynamic, raw, unmediated, and comic” in his work in Jane Austen in Context (23-24).
Austen’s Kitty or the Bower is a story about sensibility and love. Kitty is a sensible character, often making levelheaded decisions with others’ best interest in mind. Her sensibility is a highlight of the story. She finds herself falling for Edward’s charm in the story, clouding her good judgment.
Materialism and status are discussed in the story. Camilla values status and what that may bring for her. Kitty disagrees with Camilla and says that happiness is more important. High profile events like balls take place during the story.
Marriage is a heated topic of discussion in the story. Kitty believes that marriage should be between two people who love each other, while Camilla thinks marrying a man of status and wealth is the most important quality in a marriage. Many of Austen’s stories discuss marriage.
The bower, or garden area, in the story serves as a place of retreat. Kitty runs there, sometimes with a book, to seek solace and comfort. When she has disagreements with people she retreats to her bower to calm down and find happiness again. Kitty always finds comfort in her bower.
Friendship and the symbolism of it is connected with the idea of the Bower as a place of retreat. As we learn early in the story, the Bower to Kitty holds a lot more importance than it does to any other character. Kitty and the Wynne girls created, imagined, and grew that place into what is was. The Bower is the symbolic version of all that Kitty had lost. It gave her a place to feel connected with past and those who were in it, while also allowing her to think deeply about the present and her future.
Happiness from personal choice is another important theme in this story. Many characters, including the Wynne sisters and Kitty, at times lacked happiness due to their inability to make personal choices. But when Kitty finally decided to make her own choice to associate with Edward, her happiness was greatly increased. Even if only for a short time.
Misfortune is another key component of this story. It defined who the characters became and influenced the happiness, or lack thereof, for these individuals. Kitty was one of the only characters able to find strength and some sort of happiness after all her misfortune.
“Henry and Eliza” is a short fiction manuscript found in the fist volume of Austen’s three childhood notebooks. This story features the adventures of a young woman, Eliza, who finds herself target to a duchess’ revenge.
The entire story is set in the 18th century.
The Hay Field
The Harcourts find (and leave) baby Eliza in a haystack found in a field in England.
The Town of “M”
Eliza takes the road to “M” to a inn, The Red Lion, to find Mrs Sarah Wilson. The Red Lion is owned by Mrs. Wilson.
France (“The Continent”)
After their marriage, Henry and Eliza run away to France where they feel they will be safer.
After Henry’s death, Eliza and the children flee to England. There, Eliza and her children are captured and put into a dungeon. The dungeon has window that is barred with an iron lock. It also is dark with a locked door. There is a ladder in the corner of the cell.
Mansion is about 40 miles from Dover. Eliza travels here to find the Harcourts. Here, she stops at a Gentlemen’s house and finds the Harcourts.
Eliza is the heroine of the story. At only three months old, Eliza is found in a haystack and is taken in by the Harcourts. It becomes clear to the reader that though Eliza’s virtue is praised throughout the work, she is more inclined toward vice and not entirely virtuous, so all such praise is satirical. Eliza is too smart for her own good! She causes trouble as a child and is kicked out of her home for stealing 50 pounds that could have subjected her to death at that point in time. Eliza is oblivious to the consequences crime that she has just committed and just continues to sit and sing under a tree. Eliza fights for herself and security. Eliza is able to think on her feet and protect others. For example, in the Duchess’ prison she sacrifices her fingers and clothing for her children health and safety. She also constructs a group to take down the Duchess at the end of the story.
Sir George is Eliza’s real father and adoptive father. He is unaware that Eliza is his real daughter until the end of the story. He is in America when Eliza is born and abandoned. When Eliza is left in the haystack as a baby, he takes her into his home with Lady Harcourt, until she is kicked out of their home for robbing a bank. Once Sir George finds that Eliza is his biological daughter, he forgives her for stealing the bank note and loves her again. He is described as being generous and caring to Eliza.
Lady Harcourt is Eliza’s real mother and adoptive mother. Lady Harcourt abandoned Eliza at a young age because she was not a male., and her husband, Sir George, wanted a male heir. After leaving her, she forgets about her and “relocates her” as a new child. This time, she takes Eliza into her home and mothers her, until Eliza steels from a bank.
Mistress Sarah Wilson
Mistress Wilson runs the Red Lion, and inn in town. She also connects Eliza with Duchess F so that Eliza can live with and work for her.
Duchess F is a forty five year old widow. She is a strong woman. She cares for her friends. She hates her enemies. She falls in love with Eliza and treats her as a sister, until Eliza marries Henry. After Henry and Eliza run away, Duchess F plans to capture the two and torture them in her prison.
Lady Harriet is introduced to Eliza by Duchess F, and is a friend of the duchess. Lady Harriet is in love with Henry.
Mister Henry Cecil
Henry marries and runs away with Eliza. He lives in France for three years with Eliza and they have two children. Henry dies from an unknown cause and leaves Eliza as his widow.
Henry and Eliza have two children. They are both boys. Their names are not mentioned in the story.
5.3 Plot Synopsis
Eliza is found as an infant by sir George and lady Harcourt, who decide to raise and care for the girl The Harcourts are introduced as good and virtuous people, though it soon becomes clear to the reader that Eliza has an “inclination towards vice” and any praise of her virtue is satirical. At eighteen years old Eliza steals a bank note and is expelled from the Harcourt’s home. Eliza then travels to a small market town called “M.” to find her friend Mrs. Wilson, who runs an inn called the Red Lion. Eliza asks Mrs. Wilson to recommend her to be a household companion. Mrs. Wilson does this, writing to Duchess F. who hires Eliza for the purpose and immediately loves her as a sister. She has a friend named Lady Harriet, who has a significant other named Henry Cecil. Henry and Eliza soon fall in love and are married by the Chaplain who is in love with Eliza himself, so he do anything for her that she wishes. They leave a note for the duchess saying that they are “married and gone”. This angers the duchess, who sends forth 300 men to find them dead or alive. If they are alive she will torture them. Henry and Eliza are, at this time, in France, where they live for three years and have two sons. Henry dies, leaving Eliza a widow, so she moves back to England with her sons. Eliza is caught by the duchess’s men and trapped in her prison upon her return. In the prison Eliza finds a ladder and a saw, and cuts her way out of the prison cell. She can not conceive of how to safely evacuate her children from the prison, as they are too young and small climb ladders, so she throws her clothes out of the window and throws her sons down on top of the clothes. Miraculously, they survive and are sleeping when she finds them. They are very poor and become hungry, so Eliza returns to the Harcourts in search of support and charity. She meets the Harcourts outside of the Red Lion inn, and it is revealed that Eliza is their true biological daughter. Years ago, when Eliza was born, she was abandoned by Lady Harcourt. George who went to America while Lady Harcourt expecting a baby, had wished for a son, and so Lady Harcourt had abandoned the baby when she discovered she was a daughter, in the hayfield where they found Eliza months later. After hearing this, George Harcourt forgives Eliza’s theft. Eliza goes home with the Harcourts and creates an army to destroy the Duchess’s tower.
The title “Henry and Eliza” seems to bring attention to Henry, as Henry gets the first billing. This is puzzling because Henry seems to hold little significance in the story. Henry dies not even half way through and is never mentioned again. He only serves as Eliza’s husband and the father to her children. Why is his name listed first? There is some question as to if Henry represents Jane Austen’s brother, Henry. It is apparent why Eliza’s name is included in the title, as she is the main character and has such a major impact in the story. The title draws attention to Henry and Eliza’s relationship, making the story seemed based around it.
5.5 Textual History
Austen wrote “Henry and Eliza” in late December of 1788, or early January of 1789. She had just turned thirteen years old at this time. “Henry and Eliza” is dedicated to a “Miss Cooper” by the author. On page 89 of the text, the word with is omitted by being crossed out. On page 90 the reader discovers that the character name of “Mrs. Jones” was chaged to ” Mrs. Willson”. This change is maintained throughout the piece. The word had is omitted by being crossed out and replaced with the word was on the same page. On page 91 the words ” of expressing the love she bore” are crossed out and replaced with ” accordingly sate out immediately on the.” On page 92 the word ” his” is changed to “her.” Similar gender errors are edited in this way throughout the piece. This is an example. The word likewise is omitted by being crossed out on page 93. On page 94, the words after having read it are omitted by being crossed out and replaced with the words as soon as she had read it. On page 95, the word scarce is omitted by being crossed out and replaced with the word save. On page 98, the word too is changed to two. On page 102, the words which never before struck me are changed to now strikes me as. Several words are added with a ^ symbol throughout the piece.
5.6 Major Themes
This story not only includes elements of an adventure narrative, but this story is a revenge tale as well. Not only does the Duchess seek a rather drastic revenge on Henry and Eliza for their marriage (a revenge that entails sending three hundred men to hunt down the two and bring them back to her dead or alive), Eliza also seeks her own revenge on the Duchess towards the end of the story. While the pursuit of vengeance seems to suit the Duchess’ character, Eliza’s own revenge comes as a shock to the reader that Austen should choose such an end to an adventure featuring a supposedly “virtuous” protagonist. Eliza’s pursuit of revenge may even highlight the fact that she is not perfect and virtuous. In fact, revenge in this story plays the role of revealing that those who claim to be virtuous actually turn towards vices.
Virtue and Vice
Not only do the major characters pursue vengeance; they are also concerned with being virtuous and avoiding vice. However, Austen reveals that this obsession with virtue often yields poor results. For example, Sir George and Lady Harcourt consider themselves rather virtuous, but at the same time they beat their workers and Lady Harcourt even abandons baby Eliza only to find and adopt her as a new child. By the end of the story, the reader begins to understand that while the narrator claims that these characters are all virtuous, each character falls far short of perfection and often show signs of vice opposed to virtue. Eliza’s virtue is praised throughout the story, but it becomes clear that such praise is purely satirical and not meant to be taken seriously. This becomes clear to the reader when Eliza steals the bank note at age eighteen, and later marries Henry, who was in a relationship with someone else.
The direct result of the characters’ pursuit of virtues is the sense of superiority and righteousness. Since Sir George and Lady Harcourt believe themselves to be virtuous people, they see no fault in abusing their workings and even abandoning a small child since they can do no wrong. Superiority is seen in Mr. and Mrs. Harcourt. In the beginning, Mr. and Mrs. Harcourt superintend the “Labours of their Haymakers, rewarding the industry of some by smiles of approbation, & punishing the idleneſs of other” (87). It is apparent that this superiority that the Harcourts have over the farmers is superficial, because Mrs Harcourt had earlier left her child in the field! The Harcourts portray superiority, later, when Eliza steels from the bank and is disowned by the Harcourts. The Harcourts seem to feel as though they are worthier of a child better then Eliza, instead of trying to teach her not to steel. The Duchess also possesses this sense of superiority due to her self-proclaim virtuousness. She sees no wrong in sending three hundred men to either capture or kill Henry and Eliza since they had wronged her by eloping. Austen uses the theme of superiority and righteousness in order to reveal the danger and consequences of firmly believing and proclaiming one’s own virtues and virtuousness nature.
The Jane Austen Summer Program of 2015 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill performed a theatrical adaptation of Austen’s “Henry and Eliza” under the direction of Adam McCune, who posted the performance to the internet on June 28, 2015.. The work was probably performed theatrically by the Austen family, as most of Austen’s Juvenilia was. A link to the video is provided in the external links section of this page.
5.8 Critical Reception
Jane Austen’s “Henry and Eliza” has brought scholar’s attention since they were first found. Scholars are intregied by the composition of such a young and talented writer. The work in Jane Austen’s juvenilia is quiet different from her later work, but holds similar qualities. People love the abrupt parody in Henry and Eliza. Many enjoy the dark humor and the unexpected circumstances that Jane Austen creates.
Kathryn Sutherland, a professor at Oxford, wrote an edition of Jane Austen’s juvenilia, Jane Austen’s Textual Lives: From Aeschylus to Bollywood. In the introduction to the juvenilia she describes Jane Austen’s earliest writings as being “violent, restless, anarchic and exuberantly expressionistic. Drunkenness, female brawling, sexual misdemeanour and murder run riot across their pages” (Byrne). Sutherland describes the juvenilia as being a “new way” to approaching and reading a very familiar author (Byrne). Sutherland uses the juvenilia to show students how her work changed and adapted over her life.
Paula Byrne wrote The Real Jane Austen. Byrne’s later article, “Ungentle Jane,” brings attention to the “slap stick” humor found in Jane Austen’s juvenilia. Byrne shows fascination by how different Jane Austen’s juvenilia is compared to her later work, such as Pride and Prejudice. Byrne loved teaching the juvenilia to high school students and watching their reactions to the violent humor. Byrne explains the humor and violence as being “very funny. Slapstick humor, from the moment granny slipped on a banana skin, often depends on vigorous, violent action, where people get hurt. Austen gets this. Chase scenes, collisions, crude practical jokes and horseplay are the building blocks of her slapstick. She delights in physical comedy. Her characters scuffle, drink too much, punch, kick and shove” (Byrne). This violent humor is seen in Henry and Eliza. Eliza is locked in a dungeon, lets her children eat her toes, and destroys the duchess’ tower. Eliza demonstrates a humorous strength that enables her to survive anything.
“Reading these little volumes [Juvenilia] through, savoring the illustrated texts, and consulting the notes and editorial commentary would provide sufficient material for a short course on Austen. Moreover, due to the mode of presentation, the joy of the engagement would make the exercise seem not work but play.”
-Jacqueline Reid-Walsh, Women’s Studies at McGill University, “Austen for All Ages”
Peter J. Conradi wrote the article “Not-so-Quiet Jane Austen” for the Times Literary Supplement. This article is focused on Austen’s background and family life, and how it affected her work.”Her authentic inner life is in the juvenilia: full of exuberance, self-confidence, firm opinions, strong passions. She was a supreme social satirist and no reactionary. She had a low boredom threshold and a wild imagination.” (Conradi) This quotation follows information about the sense of humor that the Austen family shared. It is clear that Jane Austen found writing as an outlet for expressing her true sense of humor and personality, and this is clearly exhibited in her work. Readers of Austen’s Juvenilia enjoy the sense of humor and satire that is present in Austen’s early works.
6. Works on Sisters: “The Three Sisters,” “The Beautifull Cassandra,” and “Ode to Pity”
Jane Austen began writing in her teenage years. She wrote her manuscript pieces bound notebooks, and they were not published until after her death in 1817. Austen’s manuscript writings were meant for private circulation only; eventually, though, Volumes the First, Second, and Third were available for a global audience. Austen dabbled in various genres, including short stories, poetry, and novels. Austen may have started her work in her teenage years, but it followed her through her whole life, evident from her enduring novels. She was always revising something or adding something to her manuscripts. All of Austen’s work is either dedicated to a family member, or perhaps a very close friend of hers (Baker 27).
6.1 “The Three Sisters”
“The Three Sisters” can be found in Austen’s Volume the First of the Juvenilia. The epistolary novel is one of correspondence; letters take the place of chapter divisions. There are two letter writers (Mary and Georgiana Stanhope) and two recipients (Mrs. Fanny _ and Anne). Austen dedicates this work to Edward, her third eldest brother. In the dedication, she describes the work as an “unfinished novel,” (146) raising questions as to whether Austen has gone back and added the dedication after the fact.
1st Letter: Mary Stanhope to Mrs. Fanny _
Mary announces Mr. Watts’ marriage proposal and entreats advice; she deliberates over accepting it. She explains that “He is extremely disagreeable & I hate him more than any body else in the world,” (147) and yet rebuffing the proposal would only cause Mr. Watts to look to her younger sisters.
2nd Letter: Mary to Mrs. Fanny _
The second letter is immediately written and addressed after the first, and details Mary’s conversation with her mother, who threatens that one of her younger sisters will take up Mr. Watts’ marriage proposal should Mary refuse. This potentiality is unacceptable to Mary, so she resolves to find out herself if her sisters would indeed accept.
3rd Letter: Georgiana to Anne (Wednesday)
Georgiana details to Anne how their mother approached her and Sophy, explaining that if both Mary and Sophy refuse then Georgiana will be forced into accepting. As neither of the younger sisters considers this situation acceptable, Georgiana explains how they go about tricking their eldest sister: convincing her that they would accept immediately given the chance. This trickery forces Mary’s hand, and she is triumphant in declaring that she will accept the proposal. Georgiania ends the letter by bidding for absolution.
4th Letter: Georgiana to Anne (Friday)
Georgiana details tea with Mr. Watts, in which he is unbecoming and Mary reluctantly accepts his marriage proposal. Then Mr. Watts, Mary, and her mother begin negotiating economics, such as Mary’s annual pin money (money for incidental expenses), jewelry, the bridal carriage, etc..
5th Letter: Georgiana to Anne (Saturday)
The sisters visit their neighbors, the Duttons, and Mary does a little bragging about her upcoming wedding and the various jewelries she will receive (the actuality of which is dubious). They return to the house; Mary and Mr. Watts fight, and the sisters’ mother reassures Mr. Watts. Georgiana closes her letter with the uneasy information that Mr. Watts is hastening preparations for the wedding.
6.3. The Characters, in Order of Relative Importance:
Mary Stanhope: the eldest Stanhope daughter; she is given a marriage proposal by Mr. Watts, and this piece is her agonizing over her decision and its economic and social implications.
Sophy Stanhope: the middle Stanhope daughter, and the only of the three to not take part in first-person narration.
Georgiana Stanhope: the youngest Stanhope; in her letters she outlines to Anne how she forces Mary’s hand in accepting Mr. Watts’ proposal, to save herself and Sophy from a similar fate.
Mrs. Stanhope: the Stanhope girls’ mother, who will force a union between one of her daughters and Mr. Watts if they will not agree willingly
Mr. Watts: an adequately wealthy but rude man. He proposes to Mary, but tells her any of the Stanhopes will do.
Jemima and Kitty Dutton: the Stanhope’s neighbors.
Mr. Brudenell: a distant relation to the Duttons; he sarcastically eggs Mary on in her detailing of the impending wedding.
Mrs. Fanny _ and Anne: recipients of Mary and Georgiana’s letters respectively.
6.4. Prevalent Themes
Irony is apparent from the very first sentence of this epistolary novel, when Mary declares, “I am the happiest creature in the World, for I have just received an offer marriage from Mr. Watts” (147). The irony, readers quickly realize, lies in the fact that Mary is extremely unsure of whether she will accept it; she loves the idea of the proposal, and despises the man.
Mary’s character is too contradictory and hubristic to draw much sympathy from readers; she evokes irony with her waffling over her pride of the marriage proposal in itself, and the prospect of having to be married to the actual man. This irony is exemplified when Mary writes: “I wont have him I declare. He said he should come again tomorrow & take my final answer, so I beleive I must get him while I can.” (149) And yet one must be cautious in reading Mary solely as an indictment by Austen; readers should also look to the socially accepted institution that forces girls like Mary to make such choices, to be forced to haggle a marriage to a man she doesn’t love.
Marriage is money; It becomes very clear in this short story that marriage in Jane Austen’s time is nothing like ours today, try as we do to pursue enduring love. Mary and Mr. Watts’ courtship consists entirely of bartering over economics — the annual allowance Mary will get from him, the new carriage and its colors, new jewelry, vacations, balls, etc. Marriage for women means protecting their economic security.
The two letter writers are sisters, and this short story features the tense, manipulative relationship of the Stanhope sisters. Mary marries Mr. Watts because she cannot stand the humiliation and the social implications of having a younger sister marry before her, but to force her hand, Georgiana must convince Mary that she and Sophy would like to get married. This deceit tips the scales, and convinces Mary to accept the proposal. Consequently, this piece details the messiness of family. To protect herself and Sophy, Georgiana is willing to dupe her eldest sister. Is convincing one sister to marry a disagreeable man better or worse than welcoming unhappiness into one’s own life? or the life of the other sister? Family matters are very rarely clear-cut.
6.5 “The Beautifull Cassandra”
“The Beautifull Cassandra” is Austen’s eigth piece in Volume the First, written between the years 1787-1790. This short piece is written in twelve chapters.”The Beautifull Cassandra” gets its title from Austen’s sister Cassandra, to whom the story is dedicated (Baker 27).
Cassandra ventures out alone in London “to make what she thinks to be her fortune.” During this adventure she is away from home for seven hours. Some of the adventures she encounters is a curtsey to a young viscount, and the eating of six ices which she refuses to pay for. Cassandra also takes a hackney coach she can’t pay for, because she has no money. After all these encounters she returns to the family shop and tells the mother this is a day well spent (44-47).
6.7 The Characters
Cassandra is considered to be the “heroine” of the story. She is also an only daughter (44). She is only 16 years of age, and obsessed with a bonnet that doesn’t even belong to her. She steals the bonnet and wanders around London alone for seven hours before she returns home (Baker 28).
6.8 Prevalent Themes
Cassandra has a love for the bonnet that she steals. This is a love that no one understands. Even though knowing that stealing is wrong, this doesn’t stop Cassandra, and she comes home telling her mother how her day was well spent.
Set as a tone for the dedication to her sister. Parody is considered to be literary praise.
Cassandra falling in love with an elegant bonnet, that was stolen. This bonnet was stolen to make Cassandra’s fortune.
Cassandra is made visual in less than 30 sentences. Austen leaves the rest of the imagining to the reader, so that the reader can use the imagination. With this the character has her own being, both within the text and in real life. This reflects what Austen is trying to do with the later characters she developes in later stories.
This story was dedicated to her sister, Cassandra. This is teaching that love can come in different forms. This type of love was for a elegant bonnet that was stolen.
This is something that is shown in the writing. As Cassandra leaves home and wanders London alone and does things that no person should do maybe shows her lack of social interaction. She steals, and is just loving what she is doing. When she arrives home she is just as happy, and tells her mom that the day out was a day well spent.
6.9 “Ode to Pity”
“Ode to Pity” is a short poem that is split into two groupings of stanzas and is the last work in Austen’s Volume the First. It was written on June 3, 1793, when Austen was 17 years old. The poem is dedicated to her sister, Cassandra.
The first group of stanzas in the poem describes the setting of taking a walk in the Myrtle Grove with the moon shining down upon it. Birds in the bushes sing their pleasant and sad songs. The second gruping of stanzas continues on with walking down a road near to a stream that is running by. The moon pokes through the clouds revealing a dirty old broken down church or “Abby” that is partially hidden by pine trees.
6.11. The Characters
There is no direct character in the poem, although one can assume that the person being written about in Austen’s narration of the poem to be her sister Cassandra.
6.12 Prevalent Themes
Satire/Love — The poem is a satirical work of an ode. In definition and ode is a poem in which a person expresses a strong feeling of love and respect for someone or something (Webster 1). Austen uses a large amount of oxymorons when she implies the assumed character Cassandra to be “Gently brawling down the turnpike road” (180) and also when she writes “Sweetly noisy falls the Silent Stream-” (180). Her mention of Philomel is a huge factor into her satire. Philomel was a woman in Greek mythology who was raped my her sister’s husband, Tereus. She escaped his brutality by being turned into a Nigtingale by the gods. In many of Austen’s works she tends to mock love and marriage in different forms of writing, and she uses it once again in this poem.
Sisters — It is possible that by dedicating this poem to Cassandra that she meant to reveal her perspective on love. Her work seems to be saying that love is not subject to always being beautiful and elegant, and that there are two sides of love.
7.Drama: “The Visit”, “The Mystery”, and “First Act of a Comedy”
7.1 “The Visit”
“The Visit” is a play manuscript found in the first volume of Austen’s three childhood notebooks.
7.2 Plot Summary
Set in the progression of two acts, and dedicated to Austen’s brother, James, The Visit, is a comedy set in Lord Fitzgerald’s house. As the first act opens, Lord Fitzgerald and his cousin, Stanly are found in the parlour discussing the shortness of the bed in which Stanly slept in. The occurrance of this shortness, according to Lord Fitzgerald, is due to his grandmother, who felt it important to make every bed her length because she didn’t wish to have company due to an impediment in her speech.
During scene two of the first act, Miss Fitzgerald is introduced, as she converses with Stanly about who will be dining with them that evening. These guests include Sir Arthur and Lady Hampton, their daughter, Sophy, their niece, Cloe, and their nephew, Mr. Willoughby. It is during this conversation that both Sophy and Cloe are discussed as being handsome, however, according to Miss Fitzgerald, Cloe is more so. As Lord Fitzgerald is adherent to truth, it is understood that he finds Sophy to be “the most beautiful, pleasing, and amiable girl in the world”.
As act two opens, Lord Fitzgerald, Miss Fitzgerald, and Stanly are found in the drawing room where they await their guests. Upon the arrival of the five guests, it is discovered that there are only six chairs instead of eight. This is all due to Lord Fitzgerald and Miss Fitzgerald’s grandmother who did not have parties and found it necessary to only have enough for her own family and two of her friends. As a result, Sir Arthur sat on lady Hampton’s lap while Lord Fitzgerald sat on Sophy’s lap. As Sophy comments on how light Lord Fitgerald is, both Stanly and Cloe make a comment of admiration about each other to themselves.
During scene two of the second act, all eight characters gather around the table, Miss Fitzgerald at the top and Lord Fitzgerald at the bottom. Throughout the dinner, as the guests gather their food, there is noticeable flirtation between Cloe and Stanly as he comments on her amiability. Even through this flirtation, Miss Fitzgerald comments on Mr. Willoughby’s picky eating. In response, he states that he cannot eat with the red herring on the table. In addition, as Lord Fitzgerald and Miss Fitzgerald offer Sir Arthur the food present at the table, lady Hampton assures them that he does not drink wine, he does not eat tripe, and he does not eat suet pudding.
Lord Fitzgerald apologizes for not having a dessert to offer his guests and claims that his grandmother destroyed the Hot house. As wine is circulating around the table, Lord Fitzgerald suggests his marriage with Sophy, as Stanly so shortly does the same with Cloe. Both couples then advance to the front. As Miss Fitzgerald and Mr. Willoughby are the only two left, she gives Willoughby her hand in marriage. In conclusion, lady Hampton wishes them all happiness.
7.3 Main Characters
Sir Arthur Hampton
Sir Arthur Hampton is one of the guests welcomed to Lord Fitzgerald’s house. He is the husband of Lady Hampton and the father of Sophy. He is one who never touches wine, including any drink so high, never eats Tripe, as it is too savory for him, and never eats suet pudding because it is too high a dish for him.
Lord Fitzgerald, the owner of the house in which the play takes place, is one of much humor, as he excuses each minor conflict in fault of his grandmother. As described by his sister, he is one who is strictly adherent to the truth and never says a thing he does not mean. Lord Fitzgerald, as an admirer of Sophy Hampton, suggests that he would prefer her as his wife.
The cousin of Lord Fitzgerald and Miss Fitzgerald, Stanly comes for a visit at their house. He declares to himself that Cloe Willoughby is a cherub and proposes marriage to her right after his cousin.
Willoughby, Sir Arthur’s nephew
The nephew of Sir Arthur and Lady Hampton, Willoughby does not have a liking for any of the food offered on the table while there is red herring present. Although not his proposal, Miss Fitzgerald gives him her hand in marriage.
The wife of Sir Arthur Hampton, assures her hosts that her husband does not eat or drink certain food and declares to all the couples “and may you all be happy!”.
The sister of Lord Fitzgerald, later offers her hand in marriage to Mr. Willoughby.
Daughter of Sir Arthur and Lady Hampton. Is admired by Lord Fitzgerald and accepts his hand in marriage.
Niece of Sir Arthur and Lady Hampton. So clearly admires Stanly and declares to herself that he is a seraph. She accepts his hand in marriage.
7.4 “The Mystery”
“The Mystery” is a play manuscript found in the first volume of Austen’s three childhood notebooks.
7.5 Plot Summary
“The Mystery” is an unfinished comedy by Jane Austen which spans five pages. Consisting of one act with three scenes, the piece follows the characters as they discuss an event unknown to the reader.
In the first scene we meet Cordyon in the garden. Cordyon immediately exits as Old Humbug and his Son enter the garden. We learn that Old Humbug wishes for his son to follow the advice he has given him and that the Son plans to before they both exit to the house.
In the second scene we enter the parlour of the Humbug’s house where Mrs. Humbug and Fanny are at work. While working we learn that Mrs. Humbug has been telling Fanny something but we do not know what as she concluded her story as Daphne enters the parlour. We learn that something has ended as the three discuss how something has been settled and determined related to a male, but of what we do not know. The scene ends after Daphne whispers everything she knows about the unknown matter to Mrs. Humbug and Fanny.
The third scene begins with Sir Edward asleep on a sofa and Colonel Elliot entering the room. Colonel Elliot mentions a secret that he does not trust with Sir Edward as he believes he will tell others about it. Colonel Elliot then decides it is safe to whisper the secret to him as he will not hear while he is asleep and the scene ends.
7.6 Main Characters
Old Humbug’s Son
7.7 “First Act of a Comedy”
“First Act of a Comedy” is a play manuscript found in the second volume of Austen’s three childhood notebooks.
7.8 Plot Summary
This play begins at the Inn with the Hostels, Charles, Maria, and the Cook. They are going about their day taking care of guests at the Inn and making sure they are content. The hostels are ordering Charles, Maria, and the Cook to do different tasks that will keep the guests impressed by their service. Maria is ordered to show the gentry in the Lion bed number 9 (if they ask for beds,) the Cook is to give the Honours in the Moon, who is Chloe, her bill of fare, and Charles is to answer the Ladyships bell if it is rung.
The scene changes to moon and we are introduced to Popgun and Pistoletta talking about going to London. Pistoletta asks her father, Popgun, how far it is to get to London. He responds in a very kind manner that it is seven miles away, while telling her many other things along with that. He tells her that she is his favorite of all his children, that he is going to town with her to marry Strephon, and that he is planning on leaving her his whole estate.
The scene changes to sun, where we find Chloe and a chorus of ploughboys. Chloe is asking herself a series of questions while answering them directly after. She is at Hounslow, and says she is going to London to be married to Strephon. Then, the ploughboy chorus and Chloe start singing a song about Chloe going to London to marry Strephon and how fun that will be for her. The cook comes with the bill of fare, and Chloe asks for a leg of beef and a partridge, and then begins to sing another song.
The scene changes to inside the Inn with Strephon and Postilion. Strephon is asking Postilion how much he money owes for driving him to marry Chloe. Postilion tells him he owes him eighteen pence, but Strephon tells him that he doesn’t have enough money to support himself in the town and pay him eighteen pence. Strephon tells Postilion that he will pawn him an undirected letter that he received from Chloe, and Postilion accepts the offer. The play ends here, although it doesn’t say “Finis” it is concluded with “End of the first Act.”
7.9 Main Characters
Strephon is a handsome young man who has come to the Inn to marry Chloe, although Pistoletta was telling her father how she wanted to go to London to marry him. He is the ideal man for a woman to marry and Chloe things very passionately about him.
Chloe is a cheerful young girl full of happy thoughts about going to London to marry Strephon. Strephon comes to the Inn to marry Chloe.
Pistoletta is Popgun’s daughter, even more so his “favourite of all [his] children.” Her mother had died two months ago. She wants to marry Strephon, and her father wants to help her do so.
Popgun is Pistoletta’s father. He seems to be a very caring and generous father to Pistoletta, although I’m not sure how his other children might feel about him. He explains how Pistoletta is his favorite child, and he is going to leave his estate to her. He seems to want to give her anything he possibly can without thinking twice.
Postilion drove Strephon to Town to marry Chloe and received no pay for it, only a letter that Chloe wrote. He seems to be very easygoing.
Chorus of ploughboys
Singing chorus of plowmen who are singing a song about Chloe marrying Strephon.
The Hostels are the innkeepers at the Inn, they are in charge of keeping everyone at the inn happy. They order Maria, Charles, and the Cook to do tasks that will keep the people at the Inn satisfied.
Charles works at the Inn and he answers the bell when it rings.
Maria works at the inn and is in charge of getting the guests to their beds if they need them.
The cook at the Inn.
7.10 Major Themes
A major theme prevalent in Austen’s drama is marriage. Much of her work is satirical and quite plainly judges those who create it as their number one priority. In The Visit, both Stanly and Cloe declare their admiration of one another and continuously make charming remarks. In First Act of a Comedy, another character with the name of Cloe sings silly songs as she declares her happiness for a man she has yet to meet, and even sings into another song.
Another major theme present in Austen’s drama is the underdevelopment of each character. In The Visit, Austen removed descriptive information about Lord Fitzgerald to make him more of a flat character. The grandmother, who was not physically present in the play, was one who was made in reference much more than the other characters. The reader understands this grandmother’s personality, whereas there’s not a lot of description in the physical appearance or personality of the other, more present characters.
Much of Austen’s dramas are unfinished work, which addresses whether they are truly resolved or not. The Visit is concluded with comment of Lady Hampton, as she states, “And may you all be Happy”. What may be questioned is whether this simpy means “and they lived happily ever after”. The Mystery is quite literally a mystery, where the reader never finds out what the characters are discussing. Even more, the play is unfinished.
In these dramas, the reader can sense the immaturity of Jane Austen through her writing, as it is fairly noticeable that Austen wrote these plays at such a young age (age 11-17). The immaturity that is present adds character to the play, and displays the parody in which Austen created. Much of Austen’s style is present through the numerous revisions made in each play. Many of these revisions, although minor, can be seen inconsistently throughout each drama. However, many of these revisions change the personality of several characters, as it adds a more comical twist.
Also noticeable in Austen’s style is the length of her pieces. Austen’s piece, The Mystery, spans five pages and consists of three scenes in a single act. This is similar to The first Act of Comedy, which spans four pages with four scenes during a single act. While a bit longer, The Visit is also relatively short, as it spans thirteen pages. This piece also differs from the other two in this case, as it consists of two acts, each having two scenes. Several of these pieces are unfinished, whether Austen noted that herself or they were left off suddenly which could account for their length.
The Jane Austen Society of North America provides all the information you should know about Austen. You will get the opportunity to read about Austen’s life in a short and informative biography, explore maps of her works, and gain access to further resources.
More of Jane Austen’s early writing can be found in her fiction manuscripts, Volume the First, Volume the Second, and Volume the Third. James Edward Austen-Leigh, Austen’s nephew who wrote the ending of Kitty or the Bower and published a book called A Memoir of Jane Austen that featured some of her writings, as well as stories and recollections from family members. For more information on Jane Austen and the writing of her Juvenilia, further reading is available from Kathryn Sutherland’s article, “Jane Austen’s juvenilia” as well as Linda Bree, Peter Sabor, and Janet Todd’s Jane Austen’s Manuscript Works from Broadview.
Here you will find an interesting source for Austen information. It explores Austen, her works, and what her fans think. There are links to further resources, access to Austen’s work online, and opportunities to learn and experience the world of Austen outside of the world web setting. For a different take on Austen and her works, explore the “Becoming Jane” website. provides perspectives from Austen’s biggest fans. Not only does it offer information about Austen and her works, it discusses Hollywood’s portrayal of her works, interviews, letters, and weekly quotes from the esteemed Austen.