Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Baker, William, 1944-

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of English


Austen; Jane; 1775-1817--Criticism and interpretation; Shame in literature


As a novelist, Jane Austen was interested in the social forces that shaped the lives of her characters. In each of her published novels, the force that she chooses to use at pivotal moments is shame, but this is not to say that shame is only a plot device for Austen. She is fascinated by the social function of shame, how individuals use it to achieve their goals, and how it can operate as a tool to induce a crucial self-awareness that spurs positive change. Shame does not operate on its own in Austen, however. Over the course of her career, shame-producing incidents gradually become connected with the issue of disability, culminating in Persuasion, where the main character rejects shame as a necessary component of the socially constructed disability identity. This dissertation examines the uses of shame in Austen's six novels and the novel fragment of Sanditon in order to trace and verify this apparent connection between shame and disability. Both of these topics have their own schools of critical theory, which provide their own approaches to the works. The opening chapter is a discussion of shame and disability studies theory with reference to Northanger Abbey, after which each novel is examined individually.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [271]-277).


vi, 277 pages




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