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Title: “FASHION AND SOCIAL STATUS”: il discorso degli oggetti in Sense and Sensibility
Authors: Vittori, Valentina
Keywords: property;luxury;furniture;regency;cottage;gentry;matrimonio;proprietà terriera;patrimonio;casa;famiglia
Issue Date: 7-Apr-2009
Series/Report no.: Tesi di laurea. 1. livello. Classe 3.;
The novel analyzed in this thesis is Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen.
The study particularly focused on the object as a main feature of material culture, a symbol of wealth, as a means to describe the characters’ personalities and to reveal the hidden truths. The object furnishes the inner spaces in the novel and it is described in detail. It reveals the deep changes in style that characterized the society at the end of the eighteenth century.
The writing of this work required a long research based on both paper and multimedia material.
The greatest part of this research was carried out at the Architecture and Arts Library in Rome.
The thesis is divided into three parts. In the first part inner spaces, furniture and the so-called “consumer goods” were analyzed, considering the architectonic and stylistic changes occurred in the period between the eighteenth and nineteenth century, taking into account that they represent
possession, luxury and wealth. This analysis started from the references found in Sense and Sensibility to confirm the theory according to which Austen’s ability to observe human nature creates a deep relationship between her characters and reality.
This part was developed in keeping with the analyses carried out by John Morley in Regency Design: Gardens, Buildings, Interiors, Furniture 1790-1840 and Michael Snodin and John Styles in Design and the Decorative Arts – Georgian Britain 1714-
1837 and it focused on the following items:
- Barton Cottage
- The public room and the parlour
- Drawing room, bed chamber and dressing room
- Furniture rooms: card-table, tea-table, sofa and chairs
- The Pianoforte
- The silk landscape and the screens
In the second part personal belongings were examined considering the changes in
their material and shape determined by the massive industrial and economic
development at the end of eighteenth century. Besides the object was studied as an ethic and moral manner of the characters. It also represents something immaterial defined as a “screen”, which hides and protects the real feelings and thoughts of the characters. This part makes references to the studies
of Maxine Berg in Luxury and Pleasure in Eighteenth Century Britain.
In the second part detailed research was carried out also on clothing and textiles, with particular reference to the influence of French fashion on the English style. Several types of dresses were found on the web sites: and
The following objects were examined:
- China
- Drinking glass
- Seal
- Hair-Ring
- Filigree
- Scissors
- Toothpick-case
The last part of my enquiry deals with the evolution of the means of transport, and the building of new types of carriages in the post-revolutionary society.
Horses drawn carriages were analyzed as both a symbol of luxury, ostentation and as places which become intimate spaces where, for example, private conversations take place. The book of Janet Todd, Jane Austen in Context, was used as a reference for
this part.
The research starts from Jane Austen’s narrative style and the way she observed reality. In a letter to her nephew Edward, dated Chawton 16th December 1816, the writer explains how her works are the reproduction of a «little bit (two inches wide) of ivory on which I work with so fine brush, as produces little effect after much labour». In her working process Austen starts from miniatures to describe and reveal
the truths in the small rural world which is influenced by the cultural changes.
Tesi di laurea di 1. livello in Lingue e letterature straniere moderne. Corso di laurea in Mediazione Linguistica per le istituzioni, le imprese e il commercio. A. a. 2006/2007. Relatore Prof.ssa Francesca Saggini. Correlatore Dott.ssa Cristina Benicchi.
Rights: If not otherwise stated, this document is distributed by the Tuscia University Open Archive under a Creative Commons 2.0 Attribution - Noncommercial - Noderivs License (
Appears in Collections:LINGUE - Archivio delle tesi di laurea

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