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Surrogate Mothers in Jane Austen

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Jane Austen created families of varying levels of dysfunction so effectively, that even young readers of today can relate to the story. In some, the mother was either deceased, not present, or just not the right person for the daughter to rely on. For example, Fanny, Emma, Elizabeth and Elinor all struggle because the very people who are supposed to be looking out for them prove to be completely unhelpful. These heroines may not be able to rely on their actual Mother (or Father) but there often are parental figures that they can turn to.

The mother in Pride and Prejudice is sympathetic, but silly, eccentric and irresponsible. Mr. Bennett is contemptuous to his wife and younger daughters; except for Elizabeth (his favorite) he spends the majority of his time in his library.

In Emma, the mother is dead. She must’ve been clever because where else would Emma get it, but there must have been a lack of discipline of Emma. Mr. Woodhouse is almost a caricature, so he can by no means be accused of giving rational support, but he is "everywhere beloved for the friendliness of his heart and his amiable temper", and to Emma "most affectionate, indulgent father". I would say that Mr. Woodhouse is always concerned and caring, his

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