The Role of Nature

Literature homework help: This question asks you to consider the role of nature (i.e. external nature, the natural world) as a source of personal contentment and artistic inspiration in the two novels by Jane Austen you have studied in Book 3. As part of your analysis of the importance of nature in the Austen novels, you will want to pick specific passages or sections from both novels, and subject them to closer scrutiny. In order to do so, you will need to pay close attention to the narrative and engage in close textual analysis to support your argument.
You will also want to substantiate your argument with reference to at least two critical sources from outside the directed teaching material. For Pride and Prejudice, you might want to consider Elizabeth Bennet’s love of long walks and planned trip to the Lake District, or the way in which she responds to the natural setting of Pemberley on her first visit there, or Rev Collins’s love of gardening. For Persuasion, you might want to consider the visit to Lyme Regis, or Anne Elliot’s conversation about nature poets with Captain Benwick. You will want to compare and contrast the role of nature in the two novels, and come to a judgement about whether this is an important theme (or not) in Austen’s writing.
Your first port of call should be to investigate ecocriticism in relation to Austen via the independent study option for Book 3, Chapter 6 (Week 25 in your study calendar). You should also look at the two collections of essays, Edward Copeland and Juliet McMaster’s The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen (Cambridge University Press, 2nd edition), and Claudia L. Johnson and Clara Tuite’s A Companion to Jane Austen (Blackwell, 2003), (both available online through the OU library) that are listed under your independent study option, ‘Investigate Austen criticism further’ for Book 3, Chapter 4 (Week 23 in your study calendar). You might also want to do a journal article search via the OU Library, using the keywords ‘Austen’ and ‘nature’ to find and evaluate additional relevant critics on the topic (remember to pick articles that discuss external nature – the natural world – and not internal or human nature). You can also draw upon the scholarly introductions to your set text editions of the novels, as well as the bibliographies. You are not obliged to agree with the critics you refer to, but you should always provide evidence to substantiate your argument.

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